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No Jeremy Lin, No Problem for Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks

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No Jeremy Lin, No Problem for Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks

Divorces tend to be messy endeavors, from which both parties rarely emerge no worse for wear. Even rarer is the case that such a split leaves everyone better off in the immediate aftermath.

So far, that appears to be the case for Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks.

The Knicks cut Linsanity loose this summer after the third-year point guard out of Harvard received an offer from the Houston Rockets that he couldn't refuse.

And that the Knicks were hesitant to match.

Lin's been solid so far in his new digs. He followed up a 12-point, eight-assist, four-rebound, four-steal debut against the Detroit Pistons with 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists at the expense of the Atlanta Hawks.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Of course, it helps that he's sharing a backcourt with James Harden, whose 82 points in two games have more to do with Houston's 2-0 start than any of Lin's contributions.

As for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks, they seem to be handling the post-Linsanity era just fine, thanks.

That is, if a 104-84 win over the defending champion Miami Heat is any indication. With their hearts heavy in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, the Knicks put on a show for a full house at Madison Square Garden, dominating the action from start to finish.

'Melo came out firing like he was still in London with Team USA, knocking down spot-up shots and attacking the soft interior of Miami's defense for 16 points in the opening frame. He finished the game with 30 points (on 28 shots), along with 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals, but—surprise! surprise!—was clearly at his best when he wasn't trying to force the issue on his own.

As it happens, the hydra that replaced Lin at the point—Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni—wasn't too shabby in support. Felton looked like a reasonable facsimile of his pre-'Melo-trade self, chipping in 14 points, four rebounds, three steals and a game-high nine assists while barreling his way up and down the court.

Nick Laham/Getty Images

How hipster of Ray to remind the world that he was Ty Lawson before being Ty Lawson was cool.

Speaking of throwback performances, how about J-Kidd? His night was hardly vintage by his own standards, though his perimeter defense and three-point shooting (3-of-5 from deep) were both familiar and perfectly fitting for the Knicks' backcourt needs.

Prigioni's three assists in his NBA debut weren't too shabby, either.

Scoring points is nothing new for the Knicks with 'Melo on their side. Doing so sans Amar'e Stoudemire against the Heat, though, is another story. New York averaged all of 82.8 points during a five-game "gentleman's sweep" at the hands of the eventual champs in the first round of the 2012 playoffs. That number creeps up to 84.5 per outing if you include the Knicks' three regular-season losses to Miami.

In any case, putting up 104 points on the vaunted Miami D counts as a confidence booster for New York's O.

Just as impressive (if not more so) was what the Knicks did against the Heat that they never did so well with Lin at the point—defend. They limited Miami's LeBron James-centric offense to just 84 points while forcing a staggering 21 turnovers.

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Tyson Chandler was a menace in the middle. Kidd was a pest up top. Even Anthony, oft maligned for his lackluster effort on that end of the floor, showed some serious gumption going head-to-head with LeBron and Dwyane Wade.

All told, it was the sort of effort that made the Knicks so much fun to watch at the height of Linsanity, but better, more energized, more focused on both ends of the floor.

Will Carmelo and the Knicks play this well the rest of the way? Will Lin's Rockets churn out 82 wins in 82 tries?

"Highly doubtful" is the operative answer to both questions. For now, though, Lin and the Knicks have shown considerable promise apart from one another, more than they ever did together. Remember, it was the Heat who most memorably put the clamps on Linsanity in a 102-88 Knicks loss this past February.

Breaking up may be hard to do, but oftentimes, it's for the better.

 

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