- Associated Press - Sunday, February 12, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - Jeremy Lin came with an intriguing story even before he escaped the New York Knicks‘ bench.

First American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent.

Harvard graduate.

Nomad who crashed on a teammate’s couch when his brother’s place wasn’t available.

In just one week, Lin’s proven he’s so much more.

Turns out, he’s a terrific basketball player.

“The level he is playing at right now, I have never seen it,” Knicks forward Jared Jeffries said. “It is weird for a guy to come in and be a team leader who has bounced around like he has. He has inspired us to play harder because he gives it his all every day. There is nothing he doesn’t do on a daily basis.”

Lin scored a career-high 38 points Friday night to lead the Knicks to a 92-85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. After scoring 28 and 23 in his first two NBA starts, he outplayed Kobe Bryant in front of a national TV audience, leaving delirious fans without their voices and his coach without the words to describe it.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Mike D'Antoni said. “I have never seen this. It’s not often that a guy is going to play four games, the best you are going to see, and nobody knows who he is. That is hard to do.”

Lin delivered again Saturday night, scoring 20 points and making a foul shot with 4.9 seconds left in a 100-98 win at Minnesota. He also had eight assists and six rebounds in the Knicks‘ fifth straight victory.

Lin is drawing comparisons to Denver quarterback Tim Tebow, with the way he impacts his teammates during games and talks about his faith afterward.

Forget Tebowing. Linsanity is the new sports sensation.

“He’s been amazing,” Minnesota rookie Ricky Rubio, who knows a thing or two about reviving a franchise with dynamic point guard play, said before Saturday night’s game. “He’s playing well. He’s smart and a great kid. We’ll try to stop him.”

Lin was perhaps on his last chance, and maybe a last resort, when D'Antoni put him in last Saturday against New Jersey. The Knicks had lost on the previous two nights to fall to 8-15, and another defeat that night would have dropped them behind the Nets in the standings and might have made the cries to fire D'Antoni even harder for team management to ignore.

Lin had slept on teammate Landry Fields’ couch the night before, still refusing to get his own place as he headed into the week the Knicks would have to decide whether to cut him or guarantee his contract for the rest of the season.

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