TORONTO - This is not just Jeremy Lin anymore, this Cinderella story came from nowhere. This is spooky.
This is now Tebow-like.
This is beyond explainable.
Or as Lin said early in the latest crazy day at the Air Canada Centre, “God’s fingerprints are all over the place.” (As if we had any idea that God, in fact, had fingers.)
There is no doubting the Lord anymore, at least not today, at least not in the sporting sense, not when this kid who was kicked to the curb keeps winning basketball games the New York Knicks have no business winning. The great Lin story just got a little larger Tuesday night, a little more difficult to believe, a little more detailed and a little more incredible.
It began from the museum of the hard to believe. It has now entered the mystical.
In his other wins, there was something electric about Lin, something convincing, something stunningly dominant. Just not Tuesday night against the Raptors.
He looked rather ordinary early on. He threw the ball away. He missed free throws. He seemed to get schooled too often by Jose Calderon. This looked to be the night when the mask would come off and a legend would be defrocked.
If you came to see Lin, for three quarters you had to wonder: Is that all there is?
Only it didn’t end up that way. Taking a page from the win-ugly way of Tim Tebow — the much discussed quarterback who can’t throw but doesn’t lose — Lin found a way to hit two free throws to tie the game in the final minute of play and with less than a second on the clock, when it looked like he had misread the time and waited too long to get the right shot away, he threw up a three-point prayer — a brave announcer might call it — and it was answered.
And the Knicks are now six for six with Lin in the lineup playing real minutes at point guard (five for five when he starts), the California kid who couldn’t get a scholarship, couldn’t get drafted, couldn’t find a job in Dallas, Golden State and Houston.
“Anytime something like this happens, a lot of stuff has to be put into place, and a lot of it is out of my control,” Lin said before the game. “You try to call it coincidence but at the end of the day there are 20, 30 things that had to happen at the right time in order for me to be here. That’s why I call it a miracle.”
The win for the Knicks was something of a miracle Tuesday night. The Raptors led by nine at the half, by nine at the end of three quarters, by nine with less than four minutes to go. When you have that lead, you should be able to close it. It’s hard enough to win basketball games with defence and fortitude. It’s tough when you’re playing against other forces, miracle workers, whose resume expanded Tuesday night to basketball thief. He stole one for the Knicks.
Lin turned the ball over eight times. He missed four free throws down the stretch. He looked to be a step slow for Calderon. And when you look at the boxscore this morning, he will have 27 points and 11 assists, the most assists he has had in his five starts.
In the six games that he has mattered for the Knicks, since coach Mike D’Antoni ran out of players and reluctantly started Lin, he has scored 20-38-23-28-25 and now 27, 12 of them coming in the fourth quarter, giving the Knicks a 90-87 win and their first lead since it 11-10 in the first quarterback.
For the fans who packed the Air Canada Centre, selling out for just the second time this season, they left with a memory, with something to talk about. For the second game in a row, it was the perfect ending, almost, for the going-nowhere Raptors. They excited and then they lost. What more could a serious fan ask for?
And still, on a night when it looked like the hype would quiet, that the legend would be exposed, the story of all stories would begin to fade, it just got better. There has never been anything like this in the NBA or any other league, Tebow included.
Enjoy: There may never be anything like this again.