Trevor Ariza must have one thing to say to Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks: who's "Linning" now? As the hysteria of "Linsanity" enveloped the Hornets' visit to New York, someone forgot to tell Lin and the Knicks that the Hornets had a little momentum of their own. Playing hard all Friday night and frustrating Lin, the Hornets ended the Knicks' seven-game winning streak.
Ariza and the Hornets rocked the Knicks all game long. The Hornets led from the first bucket of the game to the 89-85 finish. Trevor Ariza hit a jumper and Chris Kaman scored six straight points to bring the Hornets to a 27-13 lead after the first quarter. The Knicks came within three late in the second quarter, but Ariza doused the Knicks rally with a jumper.
Ariza hit a couple of three-pointers to key a 13-7 spurt to put the Hornets up 67-53 late in the third quarter.
Considering Ariza was only 27.7 percent from three-point range going into the game, that was as "Linsane" as Lin himself.
After the Hornets finished the third quarter with a 11-point lead and stretched the lead to 13 points early in the fourth, they seemed like they might let the Knicks have it. The Knicks went on an 11-2 run, led by eight points by Iman Shumpert, to bring it within three.
Then, Gustavo Ayon put up three points on the next two Hornets possessions to show the Knicks that a little heart could survive in the cold city of New York. Lin hit a shot to bring it within four with 4:42 left.
Lin and Ayon traded missed shots, just to show that two ordinary players can make a close game between two ordinary teams seem just that—ordinary.
Just under the two-minute mark, Lin showed the world why they'd gone "Lindolent" watching him by answering a Marco Bellinelli two-pointer with one of his own to bring the margin back to four.
Then, it became a game of free throws. Just the game for the Knicks, a superior free-throw shooting team, not to mention a superior team in general. Too bad the Hornets made just one more free throw than the Knicks in the last two minutes. The four free throws by Lin in that time were all for naught.
The Knicks let Ayon slip by for that one layup that they couldn't afford to allow, letting the Hornets take a five-point lead with 59 seconds left.
The Knicks didn't come within a possession in the final two minutes and the Hornets came away victorious.
Ariza was the star, scoring 25 points on 10-of-20 from the field, along with eight rebounds, two blocks and three steals. Friday was the first time Ariza had hit 10 field goals or taken 20 shots in a game this season. Also, it was the first time this season Ariza had put up both multiple steals and multiple blocks in a game.
Ariza led five Hornets players scoring in double figures. Ayon had 13 points on 6-of-9 from the field, along with 11 rebounds and two steals.
How did Lin do?
Lin did what he usually did during the Knicks' seven-game winning streak. He scored well—matching Amare' Stoudemire with a game-high 26 points—and turned it over as often as usual. Setting a career-high, Lin committed nine turnovers. That's five more turnovers than steals and four more turnovers than assists.
Those are horrendous ratios for a point guard. So much for "Lintelligence."
By the way, Lin had four fewer turnovers than the total number of Knicks assists, making the efficiency of Lin and the Knicks look even worse.
Lin's shooting breakdown shows a good figure in general (8-of-18 from the field). He hit only two of six on the inside while making six of 12 from the outside. Also, Lin did well at the line, hitting eight of 10 free throws.
The Knicks (15-16) slid back below .500 while the Hornets (7-23) closed the immense gap in their record. New Orleans has now won three straight games. Two of those three teams had .500 records when the Hornets played them. The Hornets are playing a remarkable run of ball at a time when they're just trying to play out a dreary season.
At least one win in this forgettable Hornets season comes with some delirium.