NEW YORK – Jeremy Lin scored a career-high 28 points in his first career start, Steve Novak added a season-best 19, and the New York Knicks overcame the absence of Amare Stoudemire and early loss of Carmelo Anthony to beat the Utah Jazz 99-88 on Monday night.
Stoudemire left the team to join his family in Florida after older brother Hazell was killed there earlier Monday in a car crash, then Anthony left after just six minutes with a strained right groin.
Despite missing two All-Stars and using a lineup of second-teamers, the Knicks won their second straight thanks to another remarkable performance from Lin, the former Harvard point guard.
Al Jefferson scored 22 points in a disappointing effort for the Jazz in the opener of a brief two-game road trip.
Going nowhere all season without a real point guard, the Knicks turned to Lin on Saturday against New Jersey, and he delivered 25 points. He was even better in this one in front of a crowd that again chanted his name much of the night, adding a career-best eight assists.
He made the biggest basket of a game, a desperation 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down and 1:58 remaining that gave the Knicks a 95-86 lead. He previously converted two three-point plays in the period, with coach Mike D'Antoni shaking his fists in the air after the latter pushed the lead to 10 with 4:29 left.
Lin and Novak, whose photocopied bios are included in the game notes package because they were signed too late to make the media guide, helped the Knicks overcome the absence of about 42 points per game from their two stars. So did Jared Jeffries, who added 13 points and eight rebounds while battling the much bigger Utah front line.
D'Antoni decided to turn to Lin, the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, earlier Monday, and the position could be his for a while. Baron Davis, the expected starter when he becomes available, revealed that an infected right elbow had recently caused him to stop his workouts and it is unknown when he will resume practicing. D'Antoni said it would probably be a week to 10 days from the time he returns to practice to when he's ready to play in games.
The Knicks led 19-16 after one, gradually increasing it to 37-22 midway through the second quarter as the Jazz simply couldn't get any offense going. Novak came on to play the final 5:06 and scored 10 points, with Lin driving into the lane and kicking it out to him in the corner for a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left that gave New York a 51-38 halftime lead.
Chandler picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench about 1½ minutes into the third quarter, leaving the Knicks with a lineup of Lin, Novak, Landry Fields, Bill Walker and Jeffries. The Jazz capitalized and nearly caught all the way up, pulling to 75-73 with 45 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Raja Bell, who scored 11 in the period.
NOTES: A half-dozen members of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, including receiver Hakeem Nicks, were brought onto the court for an ovation during a second-quarter timeout. ... The Knicks held a moment of silence before the game for Hazell Stoudemire. The Knicks don't know when Amare Stoudemire will return to the team. ... Utah visits Indiana on Tuesday.