Jeremy Lin put aside his record-setting scoring to hand out a career-best 13 assists, and the Knicks got back to .500 with their seventh straight victory, 100-85, over the Sacramento Kings last night in New York.
Lin added 10 points, focusing more on his role as a distributor while others torched the Kings for 51 percent shooting. Landry Fields had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Bill Walker and Steve Novak each chipped in 14 points.
Lin scored 136 points in his first five starts, most by any NBA player since the league merged with the ABA in 1976. His 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left Tuesday allowed the Knicks to pull out a 90-87 victory over the Raptors in a game they trailed nearly the whole way.
The Knicks (15-15) led this one almost throughout, evening their record for the first time since they were 6-6 after a loss to Oklahoma City Jan. 14. They host hapless New Orleans tomorrow, hoping All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony will return from a strained right groin.
The way Lin’s Knicks are playing, they can wait for him.
The reigning Eastern Conference player of the week played 26 minutes, grabbing a seat next to Anthony - and sharing a few laughs with the star forward - after checking out for good late in the third quarter.
Already the NBA’s biggest story, Linsanity had peaked about 24 hours earlier with the former Harvard guard’s winner in Toronto. The shot was replayed on the overhead video board, triggering a huge ovation as if it had just happened live.
But Lin would have few other scoring highlights, taking only six shots. Fans, quite a few wearing Lin jerseys or holding masks of his face, loved it anyway. They chanted “MVP! MVP!’’ as he was interviewed on the court after the game.
“It’s crazy. Thank you for the energy as always,’’ he said to the crowd.
Rockets 96, Thunder 95 - Kevin Martin tied a season high with 32 points, including the winning free throws with 23.6 seconds remaining, to lead host Houston to an upset of Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant (33 points) missed three shots in the last 16 seconds and Houston finally grabbed the rebound on the last miss to secure the win.
Magic 103, 76ers 87 - Ryan Anderson had seven 3-pointers and 27 points, Dwight Howard added 17 points and 14 rebounds, and host Orlando shot its way past Philadelphia.
Timberwolves 102, Bobcats 90 - Kevin Love had 30 points and 18 rebounds and host Minnesota snapped a four-game skid by dropping Charlotte to its 16th straight loss.
Spurs 113, Raptors 106 - Tony Parker had 34 points and 14 assists, and visiting San Antonio extended its season-best winning streak to nine games.
Cavaliers 98, Pacers 87 - Rookie Kyrie Irving scored 22 points in his return after missing three games with a concussion, helping host Cleveland send Indiana to its fifth straight loss.
Grizzlies 105, Nets 100 - Rudy Gay scored 25 points and Tony Allen matched his season high with 21 as visiting Memphis handed New Jersey its seventh straight loss.
Mavericks 102, Nuggets 84 - Shawn Marion had 16 points and 10 rebounds, leading six players scoring in double figures as host Dallas stretched its winning streak to five by cruising past Denver.
Hornets 92, Bucks 89 - Marco Belinelli made a career-high six 3-pointers and scored a season-high 22 points to lead New Orleans over host Milwaukee.
Hawks 101, Suns 99 - Josh Smith matched his season high with 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds as visiting Atlanta rallied from 15 points down in the second half to slip past Phoenix.
Trail Blazers 93, Warriors 91 - Gerald Wallace scored 24 points and Jamal Crawford hit a key 3-pointer and a pair of late free throws to lift Portland over host Golden State.
Clippers 102, Wizards 84 - Blake Griffin had 23 points and 15 rebounds to lead five players in double figures as host Los Angeles broke open a close game in the fourth quarter to down Washington.