NEW YORK — Linsanity lives.
Forget the off night that had NBA fans worldwide wondering if the Jeremy Lin story was too good to be true. It’s still plenty good, all right.
The Harvard sensation was back at his whirling ways Sunday, and the stage couldn’t have been better — against the defending champions on national TV.
Lin was Lin, and that was good enough for the New York Knicks to win.
Hours after the opening of “Saturday Night Live” spoofed the Lin phenomenon, the point guard had 28 points and a career-high 14 assists to carry the Knicks to a 104-97 victory that ended the Dallas Mavericks’ six-game winning streak.
“Looking back, it’s like I was watching them win the championship last year, and that’s obviously where this team wants to go,” Lin said.
“This is helpful to us, not just to me but to us, just to be able to see where our team can go and what we can become, and I think that’s the biggest takeaway from tonight,” he said.
Lin already owns the highlights and headlines, and now he has some new admirers after rebounding from a nine-turnover performance against lowly New Orleans by dominating a Dallas defense that made even LeBron James look ordinary in the NBA Finals.
After the final buzzer, Lin got a hug from a fellow Bay Area product, and someone who knows a thing or two about playing the point: Mavs star Jason Kidd
“He looks a little bit like Steve Nash out there,” Kidd said, referring to the two-time league Most Valuable Player of the Phoenix Suns.
In a game of wild momentum swings, the Knicks reeled off 17 straight points in the first quarter, fell behind by 12 in the third, then pulled it out to beat the Mavericks for only the third time in the last 20 meetings.
Steve Novak also delivered for the Knicks. He scored all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter, including four 3s. J.R. Smith scored 15 in his Knicks debut as New York won for the eighth time in nine games.
Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high 34 points for Dallas, which had been playing championship-level defense but became the latest team that couldn’t stop Lin.
“I was talking to them before the game, and they were saying they had an answer for Lin,” said Knicks center Tyson Chandler, who played for the Mavs last season. “I guess they were dead wrong on their scouting report.”
Playing for the seventh straight game without injured Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks got a lift from Smith, signed just Friday after returning from China. He made three of New York’s 12 3-pointers.
“First five minutes was really mind blowing,” Smith said. “First thing I was thinking was don’t airball your first shot. You never live that down in New York City. So once I made my first one, that really got me going.”
Lin’s turnovers Friday matched the most in the NBA this season in an 89-85 loss to New Orleans that stopped a seven-game winning streak. He had seven more Sunday and has committed six or more in six straight games, but D’Antoni said Saturday he wanted Lin to keep taking risks.
That paid off Sunday, when Lin got the Knicks back into a game that had seemed to be getting away in the third quarter, before shooters all around him heated up in the fourth.NEW YORK 104
■ KEY: Coming off a loss in which he committed nine turnovers, Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin had 28 points and 14 assists to lead a nationally televised win over the Mavs.
■ DURANT SCORES CAREER-HIGH 51 — At Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored a career-high 51 points, Russell Westbrook supplied 40, and Serge Ibaka had his first career triple-double as the Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets 124-118 in overtime. Durant made a 3-pointer and drove for a tying dunk in regulation, then used overtime to record his first 50-point game.
■ DUDLEY, SUNS BASH LAKERS — At Phoenix, Jared Dudley had a season-high 25 points, and the Suns beat the Lakers 102-90 to end a four-game losing skid.
■ HEAT WIN SIXTH IN ROW — At Miami, Dwyane Wade scored 27 points, LeBron James had 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, and the NBA-leading Miami Heat beat the Orlando Magic 90-78 for their sixth consecutive victory.
■ LOVE LIFTS T-WOLVES AT LINE — At Minneapolis, Kevin Love scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws with 0.1 seconds left, to lift Minnesota over Philadelphia, 92-91. Ricky Rubio scored a career-high 22 points.
■ ILYASOVA HAS CAREER GAME — At Newark, N.J., Ersan Ilyasova had career highs of 29 points and 25 rebounds, and Milwaukee beat the Nets, 92-85. Center Brook Lopez (broken right foot) made his season debut for New Jersey, getting nine points and two rebounds in 22 minutes.
■ PISTONS STAY HOT — At Auburn Hills, Mich., Greg Monroe had 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, sparking Detroit to its seventh win in nine games, 96-81 over Boston. Celtics forward Kevin Garnett didn’t play (personal matter).