- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New York point guard Jeremy Lin has taken the NBA by storm after scoring 53 points in back-to-back Knicks wins entering Wednesday, with fans and media coining the phrase “Linsanity” to describe the furor.

But Washington Wizards point guard John Wall is happy to take a little tongue-in-cheek credit for Lin’s recent success.

“No one talked about him before we played in summer league,” Wall said. “He played well against me.

Jeremy plays with a lot of heart. He plays very hard and very fast. I have the upmost respect for him, and I am happy to see he’s having great success with the Knicks.”

The game of which Wall speaks is a summer league contest two years ago in which Lin — an unnoticed, undrafted rookie out of Harvard — challenged him and, some believe, outplayed him. Lin and Wall faced each other Wednesday night at Verizon Center.

“He’s a much better player now,” Lin said of Wall. “I respect him as a player a lot. He’s an unbelievable player.”

A training camp invitee for the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2010, Lin played in five summer-league games. In the final game, matched up against Wall, Lin scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting. He received four contract offers and chose the Golden State Warriors, considered by the Palo Alto, Calif., native to be his hometown team.

But as for that summer-league game, Wall seems to remember it better than Lin does.

“Thinking back, it was just a blur,” Lin, 23, said. “Every time you have a game like that, it’s just a blur. You don’t really remember everything. I think that was the biggest game for me in the summer league,”

After playing sparingly with Golden State last year, Lin was waived at the start of training camp and claimed by the Houston Rockets, who waived him at the start of the season. Lin then was picked up by the Knicks, and he appears to be an ideal fit in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system.

“He’s extremely smart and grounded,” D’Antoni said. “I think he just plays his game. I see him as having some qualities that you love in a point guard. We just have to see what problems are presented and see if we can solve them.

“He’s tough and he’s smart and plays within the context of the system. He just has to play solid. If he can give us good point guard play, settle us down, get the ball in the right position, then he’s doing his job. Now whatever else he wants to add, it’s welcomed.”

D’Antoni likes Lin’s quickness but says he’s not quite in Wall’s league.

“That’s a different speed,” D’Antoni said of Wall. “That’s more speed than quickness. Jeremy has quickness; Wall has both. [Wall‘s] speed is on par with anybody in the league. End to end, he’s unbelievable.”

While D’Antoni expects Lin to struggle a bit leading a team that is without its two stars, Carmelo Anthony (groin strain) and Amar’e Stoudemire (death in the family), he sees a parallel to Wall’s struggle to lead a young team.

“When you’re young, you’re going to have some up and downs,” D’Antoni said, describing both players. “Their team is young. They’re tying to find their legs. You can’t force the issue, and he [Wall] doesn’t. I think he’s playing great. I think he’s great.”

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