The stalemate left some fans out of Linsanity, which has made the Knicks the story in New York, where they have ranked much lower on the sports' scene in recent years. The crowd of cameras and reporters at the morning shootaround was so large that one reporter cracked that the Knicks must have signed Kobe.
Who needs him? The Knicks already beat the Lakers, when Lin poured in 38 points to outscore Bryant.
That's turned Lin, who graced the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated, into one of sports' most unlikely stars.
"I lived through Vinsanity when I was with Toronto in Canada and that was big then, but this is bigger than that," said Knicks interim general manager Glen Grunwald, referring to when Vince Carter played for the Raptors. "It's really hard to believe."
But it was finally halted in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden crowd in which many fans wore shirts that read either Lin or Linsanity above his No. 17.
Spike Lee, who usually wears Landry Fields' No. 2, switched up to a different model. He donned Lin's high school jersey from Palo Alto, Calif. a dark green No. 4 he wore over a neon green long sleeve shirt, clashing horribly with the Hornets' green and purple Mardi Gras uniforms.
But the ugliest thing at the start was the Knicks' offense. Lin's five turnovers in the first quarter matched their number of baskets, and Chris Kaman had 10 points to lead the Hornets to a 27-13 lead. The Knicks cut it to 43-39 at the half.
"We had a few lulls in the second and a little bit in the fourth. But when you play that kind of defense, to hold that team to 13 points in the first quarter and 19 in the third, you set yourself up to have a chance," Hornets coach Monty Williams said.
The game was originally scheduled for ESPN, back when the story would have been Chris Paul's last visit to New York before the Knicks' expected pursuit this summer in free agency. Instead, the Knicks took themselves out of the free agent market by acquiring Tyson Chandler, Paul was dealt the Clippers, and the Knicks looked like they might have lasting point guard woes until Lin's emergence.
But he's been turnover prone — committing at least six in five straight games — and it finally came back to cost the Knicks this time.
"It takes a few games like this in order to learn from the mistakes," Stoudemire said. "It's a learning curve for him right now. He's going to watch film, I'm sure, and get better."
Notes: NBAstore.com has shipped Lin merchandise to 23 countries since Feb. 4, with Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia ranking only behind the United States and Canada in largest shipments. ... The Knicks had won the previous six meetings. Their longest current winning streak against an opponent is eight straight wins over Washington. ... The Knicks paid tribute to former Mets catcher Gary Carter, who died Thursday, during a first-quarter timeout.
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