Lin leads Knicks to fifth straight win

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Lin leads Knicks to fifth straight win

BOX SCORE
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) In his first three starts, Jeremy Lin's out-of-nowhere emergence all but saved the New York Knicks' season.In his fourth, his teammates returned the favor.Lin hit a free throw with 4.9 seconds left to overcome a dreadful second half and lift the New York Knicks to their fifth straight victory, 100-98, over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.Steve Novak scored 15 points, including the game-tying 3-pointer with 36 seconds to play and Lin used his quickness to draw a foul and get to the line in the closing seconds. He finished with 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds.Lin had just five points on 1-for-13 shooting and four turnovers in the second half."It was an ugly one, it was a gutsy one, it was a road win, everybody was tired," Lin said. "That's the beauty of basketball. That's the beauty of our time. We never gave up."Kevin Love had 32 points and 21 rebounds for the Wolves, who missed two chances to win the game in the final five seconds.The Knicks trailed by seven with 6:41 to play and it looked as if a week of Tebow-like hype was finally catching up to Lin. But the Wolves only scored one field goal the rest of the way, and the Knicks hung in there.Playing yet again without the injured Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, who was mourning the death of his brother, Landry Fields scored 19 on 8-for-10 shooting and Iman Shumpert added 20 points.Fields hit a short jumper to make the score 94-93 with 2:10 to go and Shumpert added another for a 95-94 lead with 1:22 to go to give them their first lead since early in the second quarter.But Love, who had 31 points and 31 rebounds in win over the Knicks last year, hit two free throws and Rubio drove to the rim for a left-handed layup for a three-point lead with 39 seconds to play.Novak's 3-pointer tied it at 98 on the next possession and Lin missed the front end of a pair of free throws before sinking the go-ahead shot."I just had to get that first one out of the way," Lin said sheepishly.Bill Walker added free throws to seal it for the Knicks, who scored 29 points on 23 Minnesota turnovers. Two of those came from Rubio in the final minute."I just made two huge mistakes," Rubio said. "I have to learn from that."The matchup of two of the most dynamic young point guards in the league made this an extremely hot ticket. The Timberwolves had to sell standing-room only tickets to pack in an announced crowd of 20,232, the largest crowd here since 2004.Lin and Rubio have each energized dormant franchises in their own way.Rubio's unselfish play and flair for the dramatic have made the Wolves cool again, as evidenced by the fifth sellout this season.The Knicks were lost at 8-15, with rumors of Mike D'Antoni's job security swirling before the coach moved to Lin out of desperation.All he's done since is re-ignite a basketball-loving city's enthusiasm for the game, help fill the league's void in Asia after Yao Ming's retirement and save the Knicks' season.He scored 89 points in his first three starts, including an incredible 38 to beat the Lakers in the Garden on Friday night."This is really just a credit to the team," Lin said. "This team is a team and that's why it's so fun to play with them."In his fourth start, Lin is already drawing the casual fan even in road games. He was cheered heartily in pregame introductions and gave the curious crowd exactly what it was looking for. His quickness gave Rubio fits on defense and he scored in every manner imaginable.There was the crossover of Luke Ridnour and step-back jumper, a tear-drop drive into the lane and stutter-step blow-by for two, and that was just in a three-minute stretch of the first quarter."Just his leadership, and I know he got a little tired, couldn't finish the way he normally would, but his leadership on the floor is invaluable," D'Antoni said. "And that's why sometimes we have to ride him."NOTES: The Timberwolves wore Minnesota Muskies uniforms in tribute to the ABA team that spent one season here in 1967. "I'm still trying to figure out what a Muskie is," F Anthony Tolliver said. ... Timberwolves C Darko Milicic missed his fifth straight game with a sprained right ankle. Coach Rick Adelman said he hoped Milicic would be ready for the game Monday at Orlando. ... The Wolves in-house DJ played Whitney Houston songs during halftime after news of the singer's death at 48.

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

OAKLAND -- No one among the Warriors had a deeper desire to beat the Cavaliers than Stephen Curry, and his performance Monday gave every indication that he wanted it as badly as he needed it.

And after losing the point-guard battle to Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving in four successive games, all Warriors losses, it was past time for Curry as the back-to-back MVP to stand up and make a statement.

His response was impressive: 20 points (7-of-20 shooting), 11 assists, four steals and a 126-91 rout by the Warriors. He was plus-23 over 31 minutes.

“He was making shots, it’s as simple as that,” Irving said. “In transition, off pick-and-rolls, doing what he does and that makes him a great player.”

Irving’s response: 17 points (6-of-19 shooting), two assists and a game-high-tying (with teammate LeBron James) six turnovers. Irving was minus-12 over 29 minutes.

“Steph was great,” coach Steve Kerr said. “A phenomenal first half, I think he had 10 assists. His energy was great and he set the tone. He put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

Curry has been playing with renewed vigor lately, his mentality changing shortly after the Warriors on Christmas Day in Cleveland blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, taking a 109-108 loss. Curry took only 11 shots, scoring 15 points.

He was particularly good in the first half, scoring 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, with 10 assists and three steals. Curry clearly came to destroy.

“It was a great way to start, just a foot on the gas pedal,” Curry said.

Curry’s game, along with the victory, may silence some of the narrative suggesting the Cavaliers have his number. Though he was displeased with one aspect of his game, Curry happily accepted the outcome. Or that Irving hadn't caught up to him.

“I obviously wanted to play well; I didn’t want to walk off the floor with anything more than what I think is a solid, aggressive game,” he said. “I didn’t shoot the ball as well as I wanted to. Some shots I normally make didn’t go down.

But I can live with that knowing I took care of the other stuff I was supposed to do on the floor. Really, what was all in my head was that I definitely wanted to leave this arena tonight with a solid performance and obviously get the win.”

Durant gets personal with stuffing of LeBron, stops any momentum for Cavs

Durant gets personal with stuffing of LeBron, stops any momentum for Cavs

OAKLAND -- There was a single play Monday night that delighted Warriors fans more than any other in a 126-91 win over the Cavaliers, and it was not any of five 3-point bombs dropped by Oracle Arena favorite Stephen Curry.

Nor was it the high-velocity collision between Draymond Green and LeBron James, which resulted in Green being assessed with a Flagrant Foul 1 and the Warriors cranking up their intensity to another level.

No, the most satisfying play of all was on defense, and it was made by offensive wizard Kevin Durant, who sent a resounding message to the Cavaliers and, moreover, to James, Cleveland’s superstar forward.

With 9:48 left in the third quarter and James driving in for a dunk, Durant responded by rising up and cleanly stuffing the shot, sending James sprawling helplessly to the floor as the Warriors gained possession and raced the other way.

“That block at the rim was definitely great,” Draymond Green said. “If LeBron dunks on him right there, the momentum swings, he’s excited and everything can possibly swing. Yeah, he made a stand. Got a big block for us and we got off to the races. That puts momentum completely in our favor.”

With the crowd pumping up the volume, the Warriors, already in control, finished the job. And don’t think Durant isn’t aware of the effect such a play has.

“Yeah, especially when you’re at home, when you get a block against anybody, the crowd is into the game and they really enjoy that,” he said. “Around the league now, in every arena, fans are starting to respect defense. They can sense that it’s a momentum shift when you get a big block or a huge steal or a block.”

It also put momentum, on a personal level, in Durant’s favor. Despite the fact that Curry has won the last two MVP awards, it’s widely believed that James and Durant are the top two players in the NBA.

James has three championship rings, while Durant has none. James has four MVP awards, to one for Durant. When the two met in the 2012 NBA Finals, when Durant was with the Thunder and James with the Heat, Miami won in five games.

Durant, who entered the league four years after James, is at the point in his career that he believes he’s ready for anything James may have. Furthermore, since coming to the Warriors last summer, Durant clearly embraces the opportunity to beat James.

Durant posted 36 points and 15 rebounds when the teams met in Cleveland on Christmas Day, and posted 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals on Monday. KD, on an individual basis, is now 2-0 this season against LeBron.

“Guarding one of the best players in the league, and somebody that can score in different ways and impact the game from different ways, whether it’s in transition or the pick-and-roll or (isolation), I just tried to stay locked in and relied on my teammates,” Durant said.