The New York Knicks host the Dallas Mavericks in Sunday’s best NBA game as Tyson Chandler faces his former team for the first time since winning the championship and the Mavericks put Jeremy Lin’s ballhandling to the test.
Lin had nine turnovers – matching a league season high – in his first loss as a starter, Friday’s 89-85 home setback to the lowly New Orleans Hornets. Winning had allowed people to overlook Lin’s ballhandling, but he has 29 turnovers in his last four starts. His giveaways also overshadowed horrific 4-of-24 3-point shooting by the Knicks (15-16).
Coach Mike D’Antoni remained confident. “He’s [Lin] always attacking. If you’re always attacking you’re going to have some turnovers. As he gets older, those turnovers will come down.”
Veteran Baron Davis has credited the Linsanity phenomenon with giving him time to rehabilitate his problematic back and be a mentor to the young guard. But Davis is itching to contribute on the court after 3-on-3 drills at practice Saturday readied him for Wednesday’s expected return.
Even after losing Chandler, Dallas (20-11) remains excellent defensively. The Mavs lead the league in field goal defense (41.4%), are fifth in scoring defense (90.8) and come into New York boasting five straight wins at the Garden.
After opening the season 1-4, the Mavericks are now fourth in the West and winners of six in a row. Most recent is Friday’s 82-75 win over the Philadelphia 76ers where Dirk Nowitzki scored as many points in the second half (24) as the 76ers.
Sixth man Jason Terry (quad) returns after missing two games. That will help as combo guard Delonte West (finger surgery) is out indefinitely. However, Terry’s road numbers (12.0 ppg, 31% FGs) are suspect.
Knicks star Carmelo Anthony – who has missed six straight games – will sit out, but could return Monday against the New Jersey Nets. Recently signed J.R. Smith said he will play Sunday, but D’Antoni seems less optimistic.