POSTED: 06:40 p.m. HST, Feb 17, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 10:59 p.m. HST, Feb 17, 2012
NEW YORK >> Can't Lin 'em all.
Not the way Jeremy Lin handled the ball Friday night, and he put the blame for the loss that halted Linsanity squarely on himself.
Lin committed nine turnovers, tied for the most in the NBA this season, and New York's seven-game winning streak was stopped 89-85 by the New Orleans Hornets.
Lin scored 26 points, but his turnovers nearly doubled his five assists and the Knicks lost for the first time with Lin as a starter, falling back below .500 at 15-16 heading into a matchup with the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
"Just a lackluster effort on my part coming out and careless with the ball, and so nine turnovers is obviously never going to get it done from your primary ballhandler," Lin said. "It's on me in terms of taking care of the ball and also the game in general.
"I think everyone wants to credit me for this last seven games, then I definitely deserve this one on my shoulders and so that's fine with me."
Trevor Ariza scored 25 points for the Hornets, who have won three in a row after a 4-23 start. Marco Belinelli added 17.
Amare Stoudemire had 26 points and 12 rebounds for New York.
Playing for the sixth straight game without injured All-Star Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks missed 20 of their 24 3-point attempts, were only 19 of 29 on free throws and were flat early, quieting a crowd that has been buzzing since Lin joined the rotation.
"Obviously it's very disappointing just because we felt like, I felt like this could've been a good game for us to win," Lin said. "But all the respect to New Orleans for what they did. They came in here with a great game plan and they shot well and they played harder than we did and they got the win."
Down by 12 early in the fourth, the Knicks made a run with Lin on the bench, and cut it to 73-71 when Jared Jeffries hit a free throw after Lin returned during a timeout with 5:29 left.
The Knicks got it down to two again on Lin's free throws with 1:06 to play, but Gustavo Ayon answered with a bucket, Lin missed wildly on a drive to the basket, and when Belinelli's free throws with 25 seconds left made it 87-82, fans began heading for the exits, perhaps in search of Lin-burgers, "Lings" — Asian-spiced chicken wings — or "Lintinis," Lin-spired items that have begun popping up at bars around the city.
"It's the NBA man. I mean the kid is really good. I love his passion. What I love about him is he is so humble. He deserves everything he got right now and everything he is going through because, you know, the way he handles himself," Hornets guard Greivis Vasquez said. "But tonight it was a little bit different. We came out and played great team defense."
Thus ended a remarkable run by the Knicks, who were 8-15 when coach Mike D'Antoni finally turned to Lin, the undrafted point guard from Harvard who was perhaps days from being cut for the third time this season when he got this sputtering team on track.
They only figure to get stronger in the coming days. Anthony worked out before the game and is close to returning, and the Knicks signed his former Denver teammate, J.R. Smith, on Friday. Smith is eligible to return to the NBA after his Chinese team's season ended, and the Knicks believe he will strengthen their poor 3-point shooting.
But none of that helped Friday.
"They're long and they did defend well," D'Antoni said. "But at the same time, I was telling him he's trying to make the hardest pass out there; he's trying to make the home run pass. That will happen for young guys. When they collapse so much, he has to kick. At the same time, we weren't making any outside shots, so they weren't coming out.
"He'll learn. He'll get through it. I thought he played well. Second half, he adjusted."
The poor performance came just as many New York residents finally got to see Lin for the first time. Fueled largely by the Asian-American's popularity, MSG network and Time Warner reached a tentative deal Friday that puts Knicks games back on TV for some 2 million Time Warner Cable subscribers in the New York area. New York state officials and the NBA had pressured the companies to settle a dispute that began Jan. 1.
The stalemate left some fans out of Linsanity, which has made the Knicks the story in New York, where they have ranked much lower on the sports' scene in recent years. The crowd of cameras and reporters at the morning shootaround was so large that one reporter cracked that the Knicks must have signed Kobe.
Who needs him? The Knicks already beat the Lakers, when Lin poured in 38 points to outscore Bryant.
That's turned Lin, who graced the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated, into one of sports' most unlikely stars.
"I lived through Vinsanity when I was with Toronto in Canada and that was big then, but this is bigger than that," said Knicks interim general manager Glen Grunwald, referring to when Vince Carter played for the Raptors. "It's really hard to believe."
But it was finally halted in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden crowd in which many fans wore shirts that read either Lin or Linsanity above his No. 17.
Spike Lee, who usually wears Landry Fields' No. 2, switched up to a different model. He donned Lin's high school jersey from Palo Alto, Calif. a dark green No. 4 he wore over a neon green long sleeve shirt, clashing horribly with the Hornets' green and purple Mardi Gras uniforms.
But the ugliest thing at the start was the Knicks' offense. Lin's five turnovers in the first quarter matched their number of baskets, and Chris Kaman had 10 points to lead the Hornets to a 27-13 lead. The Knicks cut it to 43-39 at the half.
"We had a few lulls in the second and a little bit in the fourth. But when you play that kind of defense, to hold that team to 13 points in the first quarter and 19 in the third, you set yourself up to have a chance," Hornets coach Monty Williams said.
The game was originally scheduled for ESPN, back when the story would have been Chris Paul's last visit to New York before the Knicks' expected pursuit this summer in free agency. Instead, the Knicks took themselves out of the free agent market by acquiring Tyson Chandler, Paul was dealt the Clippers, and the Knicks looked like they might have lasting point guard woes until Lin's emergence.
But he's been turnover prone — committing at least six in five straight games — and it finally came back to cost the Knicks this time.
"It takes a few games like this in order to learn from the mistakes," Stoudemire said. "It's a learning curve for him right now. He's going to watch film, I'm sure, and get better."
Notes: NBAstore.com has shipped Lin merchandise to 23 countries since Feb. 4, with Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia ranking only behind the United States and Canada in largest shipments. ... The Knicks had won the previous six meetings. Their longest current winning streak against an opponent is eight straight wins over Washington. ... The Knicks paid tribute to former Mets catcher Gary Carter, who died Thursday, during a first-quarter timeout.