Reporting from New York — Stop the Lin-sanity? The Lakers tried and tried. And failed. Badly.
The New York Knicks rolled over the Lakers, embarrassed them, really, fielding a lineup that would be laughable if not for Jeremy Lin.
The Lakers weren’t amused after Lin had 38 points and seven assists in the Knicks’ 92-85 victory Friday at Madison Square Garden.
Kobe Bryant was seething after the game, kicking a trash can in the locker room before quietly stewing at his locker in the corner. Lakers Coach Mike Brown tore into the team, telling players they needed to compete much better than the alleged 48 minutes they’d just logged.
It was another head-scratcher for the Lakers (15-12) in a season already filled with them.
Bryant spoke in a low monotone when he emerged from a side room long after the game ended. He missed 10 of his first 11 shots and finished with 34 points on 11-for-29 shooting. The Lakers still have a game Sunday in Toronto, but the best they can do on this trip is 3-3.
“It’s going to be a long flight [home],” Bryant said.
Lin was the story, continuing to reignite the Knicks’ fan base.
In only his fourth game with significant playing time for New York, Lin created the agenda by scoring nine points in the first five minutes. Then he delighted the crowd by spinning around Derek Fisher and scoring a layup. Then he beat Fisher and a fast-closing Andrew Bynum with a teardrop shot.
In the fourth quarter, with the Knicks trying to maintain an edge after the Lakers moved to within three, Lin saw that Pau Gasol got matched up on him after a switch. So he dribbled, dribbled and drilled a shot from the top. He then made a three-pointer from the left side on the Knicks’ next possession.
The Lakers “overlooked him, I guess,” said Gasol, who was in continual foul trouble and had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Said Bynum: “We added to his hype and probably kept him in the league for 10 years.”
Bynum was a nonentity, scoring three points on one-for-eight shooting and taking blame for the loss.
“I’ve got to score the ball in order for us to win,” he said. “I definitely have got to take a major part . . . in this loss.”
The Lakers were awful pretty much everywhere, looking every bit like a team taken to overtime the previous night in a victory at Boston.
They shot 37.5% and committed 17 turnovers. Steve Blake made two of 11 shots. Fisher was two for seven. Metta World Peace was scoreless in 12 minutes.
Compounding the Lakers’ embarrassment was the short-handed Knicks roster. Carmelo Anthony was sidelined because of a strained groin and Amare Stoudemire was away from the team because of the death of his brother.
The Knicks started the unlikely quintet of Jared Jeffries, Landry Fields, Bill Walker, Tyson Chandler and Lin.
Bryant had been on a tear his last four games in New York, all Lakers victories, averaging 40 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists. Part of that run was his 61-point effort in 2009, a record for any player at Madison Square Garden.
He smiled Friday only when he walked to the end of the Knicks’ bench after a timeout and shared a private laugh with the inactive Anthony and Baron Davis.
Bryant certainly wasn’t laughing after the game. It’s a wearisome season for him, not to mention the only franchise for which he’s ever played.