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Raptors Collapse Capped By Lin's Late Dagger

Related: Box Score | Photo Gallery | Casey Gets His Championship Ring | Top #RTZ Tweets
Top Plays: Jose Heaves It | DeRozan Attacks The Rim | Barbosa End-To-End | Amir On Amar'e
Post Game: Highlights | Casey | Calderon | DeRozan

February 14, 2012

TORONTO (CP) In the time it took for Jeremy Lin to glance up at the clock, then pull up and launch a jaw-dropping shot, the New York Knicks phenomenon penned another page in his fairytale story.

The 23-year-old guard, who went from a seldom-used player to the league's hottest story in the span of a week, drained a three-point shot with 0.5 seconds on the clock to lift the Knicks to their sixth consecutive victory, 90-87 over the Toronto Raptors.

``You just watch, you're in awe,'' Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said, of the game's thrilling final play. ``He only held it until five-tenths of a second, he's pretty confident that was going in, no rebound, no nothing, that ball was being buried.''

Lin finished with 27 points and a career-high 11 assists, and was huge down the stretch, scoring the final five points for New York (14-15) in one of the most exciting finishes at the Air Canada Centre in recent memory.

``I'm just glad it went like this so we can calm the Linsanity down,'' D'Antoni kidded.

Lin, the league's first-ever American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, arrived in Toronto on a dream first week as an NBA starter _ earning Eastern Conference player of the week honours.

He put in another magical performance Tuesday.

On the Knicks' final possession, Lin showed no hesitation in taking the last shot, and the season-high crowd of 20,092 stood on its feet and roared as he dribbled the ball while the clock wound down before launching the pull-up jumper.

  RAPTORS REMARKS

"Once we learn and are committed to playing the game for 48 minutes, we are going to be a pretty good basketball team. Right now, we are putting together a hell of a three, three quarters, but for some reason we can't get to that fourth quarter string or fourth quarter run."
-- Dwane Casey, on the loss
"Yeah, I think it is definitely more frustrating because we were just in a similar situation in our last game. To lose like this is definitely tough."
-- DeMar DeRozan, on back-to-back close defeats
"It was 11 seconds, I thought he was going to drive the ball. So that is why I tried to give him his left hand, but he made a great shot. What are you going to do?"
-- Jose Calderon, on Jeremy Lin's last shot

``I'm really not thinking too much about that,'' said Lin on having the ball with the game on the line. ``I'm thankful my teammates and my coach trust me with the ball at the end of the game, and I like having it at the end of the game. I'm just very thankful.''

Jose Calderon had 25 points and nine assists to top the Raptors (9-21), who coughed up a 17-point first-half lead in the loss.

Linas Kleiza finished with 15 points for the Raptors, while DeMar DeRozan added 14, Leandro Barbosa had 13 and Amir Johnson chipped in with 10.

Amare Stoudemire scored 21 points in his first game since the death of his brother, while Tyson Chandler added 21. Stoudemire was excused from the team last week after his brother Hazell was killed in a car accident.

The Raptors led for most of the night, taking a 75-66 advantage into the final 12 minutes. The Knicks kicked it into another gear in the fourth, and when Stoudemire followed up a monstrous dunk with a layup with 6:28 left in the game, New York trailed just 78-76.

The Raptors stretched their lead to nine before the Knicks went on a 9-0 run to tie the game on a gutsy three-point play by Lin. The Knicks guard drove hard to the rim and was knocked flat by Johnson, draining the ensuing free throw.

``He's a tough kid,'' D'Antoni said. ``You don't know that until you go into games with him and there's no way that anybody could see that before the last two weeks, but he's been really tough.''

Lin, a Harvard grad who went undrafted and was cut by both Houston and Golden State, had got off to a slow start, and looked weary at times, failing to score until more than eight minutes into the game.

But his shaky start was all but forgotten by the final few minutes of the game.

``When he hit that shot it was simply amazing, we were hugging at midcourt like'd we a championship,'' Stoudemire said.

``I knew it was going in,'' added Knicks guard Iman Shumpert. ``We all froze, I was yelling and nothing was coming out.''

Lin deflected praise, chalking up his stunning streak to team chemistry.

``It's not because of me, it's because we're coming together as a team,'' Lin said. ``We started making these steps earlier but we were still losing close games and so obviously it wasn't fun. But when you win, that solves a lot of problems. We've been winning and we've been playing together.''

The league is feeling the effects of Linsanity, as Tuesday's game was just the Raptors' second sellout this season _ the other was the home-opener. Orange-and-blue Knicks jerseys dotted the crowd. One row of fans wore T-shirts that spelled out L-I-N 4 M-V-P. Among the Lin signs in the crowd: ``Be my val-LIN-tine,'' and ``The sky's the Lin-it.''

Musician and actor Steven Van Zandt, who sat courtside, was among capacity crowd hoping to experience some Linsanity.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey was more livid than anything, angry his team gave up such a big lead.

  BY THE NUMBERS

.600 Free throw shooting percentage for the Raptors (9-15 FTM-A)
1 Number of times Jose Calderon has now scored 25 or more in consecutive games
17 Biggest lead of the game for the Raptors
16-6 Fast break points favouring the Raptors
24 Points scored by the Raptors on 16 Knicks turnovers

``It should have not come to that play,'' Casey said of the game-winning shot. ``We had so many bonehead plays to get to that play and to make that play irrelevant. We should have taken care of business before that.''

The Raptors, who were coming off a victory over Boston and a two-point loss to L.A., got off to a hot start Tuesday as Calderon's three-pointer with 3:25 left in the first put the Raptors up by nine. Barbosa went coast-to-coast and finished with a layup at the buzzer to give Toronto a 28-21 lead heading into the second.

Toronto padded its lead in the second and a pair of Barbosa free throws would put the Raptors up by 17 with 2:35 to go. A Lin three-pointer and four free throws cut the Raptors' lead to 47-36 at halftime.

The Knicks fought back in the third and a three-pointer by Steve Novak cut Toronto's lead to seven. The Raptors ended the third up 75-66.

Notes: Casey was presented his NBA championship ring before the game. Casey was an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks last season when they beat Miami to win the NBA title. Casey accepted the ring from Knicks centre Chandler, who also played on Dallas' championship team last season. . . Toronto's leading scorer Andrea Bargnani missed his 17th of 19 games with a strained calf muscle. . . Raptors guard Jerryd Bayless sat his third consecutive game with an ankle injury. . . The Raptors host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.