Even on what qualified as a scoring off night by his stratospheric standards, Lin's newfound importance to the Knicks was underscored early in the fourth quarter Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
With New York leading the Sacramento Kings by 26 points on the way to a 100-85 victory, Knicks fans clamored for the starting point guard.
"We want Lin," they chanted.
Alas, the Knicks sent in Toney Douglas, one of the players Lin has supplanted in his stunning ascent from No. 4 point guard. Lin stood near the end of the bench and applauded his teammate's entry into the game.
Lin was held out for the fourth quarter and finished with 10 points on four-for-six shooting to go with a career-high 13 assists and six turnovers in 26 minutes. Lin made five alley-oop passes that resulted in dunks, helping the Knicks finish with seven players scoring in double figures for the first time since April 2009.
"That's Linsanity right there," said New York forward Bill Walker, who had 14 points. "You guys saw it at its best, probably. I mean, he's getting everybody involved."
Lin's relatively meager scoring output ended a stretch of six consecutive games in which he had at least 20 points, but New York tallied the victory with ease. The Knicks (15-15) have won a season-high seven consecutive games, moving back to .500 for the first time since Jan. 14.
Lin earned a breather after a breathless stretch in which he scored 38 points to outduel Kobe Bryant in a Knicks victory over the Lakers on Friday, made the go-ahead free throw to beat Minnesota on Saturday and then made a step-back three-point basket with less than a second left to beat Toronto on Tuesday.
Lin played at least 36 minutes in six consecutive games before Wednesday, prompting Coach Mike D'Antoni to say at one point that he was "riding him like freaking Secretariat."
D'Antoni eased off on the reins Wednesday, allowing Lin to share a laugh with injured teammate Carmelo Anthony when Lin left with 2 minutes 57 seconds left in the third quarter.
"We were just having fun and kind of talking about how we're both excited for when he comes back," Lin said of Anthony, who could return from a strained groin as soon as Friday.
In the meantime, the buzz surrounding New York's new star continued to intensify.
The Knicks played host to a media contingent equivalent to what they would accommodate during a playoff game. Fans wielded large cutout photos of Lin's head and an array of pun-oriented signs such as "Lin for the Win," "Lincredible" and "Let's Go All Lin," with accompanying playing cards signifying a royal flush.
"We're just having so much fun out there and the fans are too," forward Steve Novak said. "We just hope it never stops."