Stars Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were out for New York against the Utah Jazz on Monday night.
Ah, who needs household-name players anyway?
Sparked by honest-to-goodness NBA guys like Jeremy Lin, Bill Walker, Jared Jeffries and Iman Shumpert — yes, really — the Nonamerbockers upset the no-show Jazz 99-88 at Madison Square Garden.
The New York Giants' Super Bowl championship parade will take place Tuesday morning in New York's famed "Canyon of Heroes."
Judging from the M-V-P chants that progressively increased in volume throughout the night, Lin — the city's new basketball giant — might get his own float for that ticker-tape celebration.
The second-year guard out of Harvard torched the Nets for 25 points on Saturday, and he outdid himself in his first NBA start on Monday. Lin racked up 28 points and eight assists in his new starting and starring role.
With dazzling dribbling and sweet drives — including a mid-air hand change for a reverse layup — Lin received "M-V-P!" chants from hyped-up New York fans still in celebration mode from Sunday's big game.
"Basketball is fun when you play on a team that wants to work together, work through tough times and have victories like this one," said Lin, whose late back-breaking 3-pointer easily overshadowed his eight turnovers. "This win was ugly, but we made plays. This team has will."
It wasn't intended this way, but Lin's quote was almost as damning to the Jazz on this night as it was a compliment to his own club.
Utah began a brutal stretch of road games — 21 of 32 outside of the Beehive State — with a lack of will, work and fun.
The Jazz bemoaned how they came out flat and got pick-and-rolled apart.
"It doesn't matter who we're playing or where we're playing," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We have to come out with a certain kind of attitude right from the beginning. We have to play the high level, especially on the defensive end of the floor on the road in order to have a chance to be successful, and we didn't demonstrate that."
They missed a golden opportunity to pick up a win away from home against a struggling team that was missing its two top players and had lost 11 of 14 previous games, too.
Stoudemire left New York earlier in the day to be with his family following the overnight death of his older brother, Hazell, who died in an automobile accident in Florida.
The Knicks honored the Stoudemires with a pregame moment of silence, then lost Anthony to a strained right groin less than six minutes after tipoff.
Turned out to be a Lin-win situation for the 10-15 Knicks.
New York also got 19 points and five 3-pointers from Novak, a 13-point, eight-board outing from Jeffries and a combined 19 bench points from ex-Utah Flash player Walker and Shumpert.
Don't worry. Your friends hadn't heard of them, either.
"We dug ourselves in a deep hole. We can't do that no matter who's on the floor," said Jazz center Al Jefferson, whose team trailed by as many as 15 before cutting the lead to two and then falling apart again.
"We are all professionals, so it doesn't matter that they didn't have their star players," Big Al added. "They are still a team that you can't take for granted."
Jefferson finished with a team-best 22 points, but he needed 20 shots to get that many. Starters Raja Bell (15 points) and Gordon Hayward (14) were the only other Jazz players in double figures on a night the team shot a frigid 43.4 percent.
Hounded by 7-foot-1 Tyson Chandler for much of the game, 6-8 Paul Millsap struggled to 3-for-10 shooting and only nine points even while grabbing 13 rebounds.
Point guard Devin Harris pointed to the Jazz's performance against New York's Lin-led offense as being the low point.
"It was a letdown. We felt this was a game we could have won," Harris said. "Energy-wise, we just weren't there. Defensively, we had some lapses and it was unacceptable."
The Jazz, who dropped to 13-10 overall and 2-6 on the road, don't have time to let this fester. They have a tough matchup in Hayward Country Tuesday night against the 16-7 Indiana Pacers.
To have a chance to beat Hayward's childhood team, the Jazz will have to do almost the exact opposite of what they showed (or didn't) in this surprising setback.
And, Bell said, it's not just figuring out how to defend the pick-and-roll better.
"For me, it's the energy, the fight. We didn't show much," he said. "I thought we did a little bit in the third quarter, it just kind of disappeared again. We were getting outhustled. We were getting beat to the boards. We got outworked all night."15 comments on this story
GAME NOTES: Backup Jamaal Tinsley, who's from New York, remained behind to attend to a non-emergency, family-related matter and will not be available for Tuesday night's game against his former team. … Utah has lost seven of eight games in New York. … The Jazz and Knicks are now split in their all-time series record at 42-42, each holding 30-12 edges on their own home courts.