Kings try to stop Lin-sanity from spreading in NYC

As the legend of Jeremy Lin grows, so does the confidence level of the New York Knicks.

Lin continues to work wonders for the Knickerbockers and will lead his team back to Madison Square Garden tonight in the opener of a five-game homestand versus the Sacramento Kings. Lin was at it again last night in a 90-87 win over the Toronto Raptors up north and buried the go-ahead three-pointer with only 0.5 seconds remaining in regulation, lifting New York to its season-high sixth consecutive victory.

"We called an iso at the top of the key," said Lin about the final play. "He (Raptors guard Jose Calderon) was trying to push me left and he backed up a little bit and I just thought I could hit the three and I tried to take it down to as little time as possible."

Lin scored 27 points with a career-high 11 assists and now has 136 points in his first five games as a starter, eclipsing Shaquille O'Neal's 129 for the most since the NBA/ABA merger. He is averaging 27.2 ppg in his first five starts and 26.8 points over the last six contests. Lin's play overshadowed the return of Knicks power forward Amare Stoudemire, who missed the previous four games to deal with the untimely death of his brother. Stoudemire added 21 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who are one game below the .500 mark.

Tyson Chandler chipped in 13 points and nine rebounds for New York. The Knicks have won three in a row at home, are 7-7 as the host this season and will also welcome the Hornets, Mavericks, Nets and Hawks to MSG. They are hoping to get forward Carmelo Anthony back soon from a strained groin. 'Melo is averaging 22.3 points this season and has missed four straight contests.

New York last won seven in a row from March 28 - April 10 last season.

Meanwhile, the Kings' six-game road trip didn't get off to a great start with last night's 121-115 loss at Chicago. The Bulls were without reigning MVP Derrick Rose because of a nagging back issue.

DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points and 17 rebounds, while Tyreke Evans added 27 points and Marcus Thornton had 23 for Sacramento, which fell to 3-13 as the visitor and has lost three of four games since a three-game winning streak.

"We got a chance to set a season-high in points," said Kings coach Keith Smart after they bested their previous mark of 114. "We fought and had a chance down to the wire and they made their free throws. But I thought our guys competed."

Cousins has recorded 18 double-doubles this season (third-most in the NBA) and Thornton is averaging 20.1 ppg in his past six. Thornton has scored 20-plus points in five of his last six contests. Kings rookie guard Jimmer Fredette missed the Bulls game because of a stomach virus and is questionable tonight.

Sacramento will also visit Detroit, Cleveland, Miami and Washington on the current road trip and dropped a 114-92 decision at home to New York on Dec. 31 this season. Anthony had 23 points, Chandler added 22 and Landry Fields posted 21 in that one to lead the Knicks. Thornton had 14 points in the defeat for the Kings, who have won eight of 12 meetings with New York.

The Kings have won four in a row and six of seven trips to MSG.