Welcome back, Jeremy Lin. The last time you graced the city of Boston with your presence, you were a seldom used reserve who was days away from being cut. Fast forward one month, and you are an international sports icon.
Lin makes his return to the city where he went to college, and the site of the last game he played in anonymity, as the New York Knicks battle the Boston Celtics for the third time this season at 1:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday at TD Garden in Boston, MA (TV/Radio: ABC, CSNNE/WEEI).
The last time Lin and the Knicks played in Boston, the Asian-American sensation only had two points and one assist in seven minutes as New York fell short, 91-89. The loss was the Knicks' second in a row and 11th in their last 13 games.
Desperate for a fix, Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni was looking for answers. So he turned to Lin in the Knicks next game against the New Jersey Nets, and the rest is history. Lin scored 25 points and had seven assists in 36 minutes as New York posted a 99-92 win over the New Jersey Nets.
Lin would go on to capture international attention, stringing together a streak of 11 consecutive games with 10 or more points, reaching the 20 point plateau nine times and topping 30 points once. Lin led the Knicks on a seven game winning streak in his first seven starts. February was a magical month for Lin, who averaged 20.9 points and 8.4 assists in 35.1 minutes per night. Lin shot 47.2 percent in the month, but he also averaged 5.0 turnovers, coughing the ball up five or more times in one game on eight occasions.
What is even more impressive about Lin's success if the fact that he single-handedly turned the Knicks around without stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire on the court. At the time of Lin's emergence, Anthony was coming back from injury and Stoudemire was dealing with the untimely death of his brother and was not with the team.
New York is currently third in the Atlantic Division with a record of 18-18. Boston, meanwhile, has had its fair share of struggles this season, too. The Celtics dropped five straight heading into the All-Star break, but have been playing significantly better so far in the second half. Boston has won three straight, including a blowout of the Nets on Friday.
Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, both of whom are fighting off trade rumors with the March 15 deadline approaches, led the charge in the Celtics' 107-94 win over New Jersey. Pierce had a vintage game, scoring 27 while dishing out eight assists and Rondo recorded a double-double with 14 points and 13 assists.
The Knicks are fresh off a blowout of their own, tackling the Cleveland Cavaliers, 120-103, Wednesday. Lin had 19 points, 13 assists and five rebounds to lead New York, which shot 50.6 percent from the field. Anthony scored 22, Stoudemire added 14 points and Tyson Chandler put forth a terrific effort, totaling 13 points, 15 boards and four blocks.
Boston has two home games left this week against the Houston Rockets (Tues.) and Portland Trail Blazers (Fri.), with a road game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday sandwiched in between. After that, the Celtics embark upon an eight-game West coast road trip.