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Jeremy Lin Outduels John Wall

2:02 AM, Feb 9, 2012   |    comments
John Wall and the Wizards spent the evening chasing around Jeremy Lin. Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Jeremy Lin.

Those two words around NBA circles these days are becoming the equivalent of muttering "Justin Bieber" at a local middle school. Let the impending hysteria ensue. While Lin's celebrity persona and on the court heroics haven't neared Tim Tebow -- yet --, it's actually time to start believing the hype of Jeremy Lin.

The second year guard out of Harvard carried out the New York Knicks pick-and-roll offensive strategy to perfection, (and nearly on every single play according to Mo Evans below) ramming it down Washington's throat and ultimately coercing the Wizards to sleep in a dreary fourth quarter.

The Knicks, who led by just six points at the half, ended up pummeling the Wizards 107-93, in front of thousands of their own fans, many dressed in Eli Manning jerseys. How spoiled are New Yorkers?

Lin has become the mastermind behind the Knicks offense, something head coach Mike D'Antoni has been salivating for since the departure of Chauncey Billups and more-so since his days of accompanying Steve Nash in Phoenix. Many believe -- including myself -- that Lin's emergence has saved D'Antoni's job. The Knicks (11-15) have gone from a drowning franchise in the east, to surging up the standings in a matter of days with Lin at the helm.

"I don't know how else you want [me to] answer Lin," Randy Wittman proclaimed with his voice raised following the loss. "At times John did a nice job and at times he didn't. We got beat off the dribble some. Lin had a fine game."

It isn't athletcism or shooting which put Lin on the pedestal he's graciously riding. It's his lightning quick decision making which is elevating the rest of the Knicks that surround him.

Lin was like a conductor of a symphony on Wednesday. There were lob passes to Tyson Chandler (25 points, 11 boards). There were the extra kick-outs in the corner to Steve Novak (19 points, 5-of-9 from downtown) and drop off dinks to a cutting Landry Fields (16 points). New York's eight turnovers cut their average of 16.3 blemishes a game in half. Lin held the game in his hand with an iron fist.

The worst part about this Wizards loss is that John Wall and Trevor Booker's terrific play will be flushed from the memories from those in attendance. The Lin obsession overshadows Wall's 29 points, six assists and just one turnovers. The barrage of Knick slam dunks will lead people to forget about Booker's 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

Wall isn't to blame for the loss at all. Just imagine if the Wizards surrounded their penetrating guard with three-point shooters -- like what Minnesota is doing with Ricky Rubio and the Knicks are now employing with Lin. Having consistent outside shooters eases the decision making on Wall. It makes running an NBA offense seem uncomplicated.

Any notion that the Wizards should draft an athletic wing like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, or even a potential defensive game changer like Anthony Davis, is beyond idiotic. The Wizards are too athletic for their own good and defense has typically been the secondary issue in losses. Vesely, Young, McGee, Singleton and Wall are all specialty athletes. Washington needs players who specialize in shooting. Give John Wall the help he deserves.

Why the Wizards lost

*2-for-17 from three-point land. Nick Young was 0-for-5. Jordan Crawford 0-for-3.

*Offensively, like stated above, it was solely Wall and Booker tonight. It's hard to beat any team with just two guys playing well. Andray Blatche (who was in attendance) would've been a major asset tonight. 

*JaVale McGee played only 20 minutes tonight. In the last five games his minute totals are: 24, 18, 22, 28 and 20. He hasn't scored 10 points in this span or even nabbed 10 rebounds. So Randy Wittman has a justifiable excuse in letting the 24-year-old ride the pine.

McGee has been withdrawing himself mentally from games, because he hasn't been getting off to fast starts. He is realizing that if he isn't effective early, Kevin Seraphin will continue to eat his minutes late. This playing time issue is in McGee's head. And now for...

McGee boneheaded play of the day: With just under four minutes left in the first half the Knicks led 43-38, but the Wizards were hanging in just fine. McGee was able to scoop up a loose ball along the sideline closest to the Wizards bench in the Knicks backcourt. Instead of finding an open Nick Young or posting up, McGee pretended as if he was John Wall and hurriedly attacked the rim, running over Jeremy Lin in the process for an offensive foul. Landry Fields would throw down a monster dunk seconds later. The four point swing before halftime was a major letdown for Washington.

Am I wrong to say the Wizards should start shopping McGee around? At least sending out feelers to see what teams would be willing to offer? Atlanta and Dallas seem like places who may be willing to listen.

*Jan Vesely stinks so badly, you can smell him from Dulles airport. I seriously detest to use words like that as a writer. But what else can you say? The Wizards completely botched their 2011 sixth overall pick. Write it down: Vesely is a bust.

No, he didn't play a large part in the loss -- five fouls in 14 minutes. His five steal performance against Toronto on January 10, may end up being his most notable outing of the season. Clearly, it's tough to thrive in a losing culture. But Vesely's flaws (offensive awareness, any post move, any type of jump shot, defensive awareness etc.) will take the basketball surgery to correct.

Notable Quotables 

One point before the quotes: Mo Evans will be a head coach in the NBA one day. He drops some wise lines below. 

Randy Wittman on JaVale McGee's minutes: "The dog-days of the NBA happen. Injury, sickness, just not playing well. You got to fight through it. I got to help him. I will continue to do that. He's got to stay uplifted."

Mo Evans on increased playing time: "I feel really comfortable. Excited to be out there. Already a little frustrated that it didn't translate into a win."

John Wall on Jeremy Lin: "They did a great job of running the pick-n-roll. They had four shooters around him. Running the pick-n-roll with Tyson Chandler...It was pretty tough to stop. 

Mo Evans on losing even without Carmelo or Amare playing: "That's the most frustrating thing. Throughout the season we've already played a number of teams that have missed their key players. I don't think we've yet to capitalize on those situations."

Randy Wittman on the Knicks: "They were the aggressors who had us on our heels from a defensive standpoint, which led to the fouling."

Mo Evans on the biggest letdown of the loss: "Our failure to adjust to what they were doing [pick-and-roll]. They executed extremely well. You have to give them credit for that. Jeremy Lin made all the right plays, playing very unselfish...20 plus points, 10 assists and got all their guys going."

John Wall on defensive breakdowns: "The third quarter they had 18 free throws. We fouled them that many times and they just kept making free throws."

Mo Evans on the Knicks offense: "Frankly, they ran the same play of offense every single time...they are playing really well. [The Knicks] have some tough decisions to make when they get back [Carmelo and Amare]."

Mo Evans on John Wall: "[Seeing what the Knicks did] is encouraging for us. I was talking to John in the showers. If we can take a page out of their book and use John in the same way...John is probably the fastest point guard in this league with the ball, he has the same ability to attack the rim like Jeremy Lin, and go under pick-n-rolls. There's some lessons to be had in a game like this."

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