'Linsanity' leads Knicks to 7th straight win

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'Linsanity' leads Knicks to 7th straight win

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Instead of saving the Knicks, Jeremy Lin got to save his energy. Lin played only 26 minutes Wednesday night, 10 fewer than in any game since joining the rotation. With the Knicks blowing out the Sacramento Kings, he checked out for good in the third quarter, grabbing a spot on the bench next to Carmelo Anthony and sharing a laugh with the injured All-Star. "We were just having fun and kind of talking about how we're both excited for when he comes back," Lin said. Hey Melo, no need to rush. Lin and the Knicks just keep on winning. Lin put aside his record-setting scoring to hand out a career-best 13 assists, and New York got back to .500 with its seventh straight victory, 100-85 on Wednesday night. Lin added 10 points, focusing more on his role as a distributor while others torched the Kings for 51 percent shooting. Landry Fields had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Bill Walker and Steve Novak each chipped in 14 points as the Knicks put seven players in double figures for the first time since April 5, 2009, at Toronto. "As a point guard, my field goal attempts have been really high and I don't think that's necessarily good," Lin said. "I think it's more of my job to distribute and get people in rhythm." Lin scored 136 points in his first five starts, most by any NBA player since the NBA merged with the ABA in 1976. His 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left Tuesday allowed the Knicks to pull out a 90-87 victory in a game they trailed nearly the whole way. The Knicks (15-15) led this one almost throughout, evening their record for the first time since they were 6-6 after a loss to Oklahoma City on Jan. 14. They host hapless New Orleans on Friday, hoping Anthony will return from a strained right groin. "We wanted to be aggressive, make it hard for (Lin), but he still ran the team and got assists," Sacramento's Tyreke Evans said. "They made shots. It seemed like they were making everything tonight." Evans scored 19 points for the Kings, who had won four in a row in New York. DeMarcus Cousins added 15 but shot only 7 of 18 and grabbed just four rebounds. Already the NBA's biggest story, Linsanity had peaked about 24 hours earlier with the former Harvard guard's winner in Toronto. The shot was replayed on the overhead video board at the Garden, triggering a huge ovation as if it had just happened live. But Lin, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, would have few other scoring highlights, taking only six shots. Fans, quite a few wearing Lin's jerseys or holding masks of his face, loved it anyway. They chanted "MVP! MVP!" as he was interviewed on the court after the game and held up signs such as "Lin Your Face," "Linderella," and -- of course -- "Marry Me Jeremy." "It's crazy. Thank you for the energy as always," he said to the crowd. Then he was peppered with an array of questions usually reserved for superstars, from his thoughts about President Barack Obama watching him, to whether it was time to get a new haircut. But for Lin, the only focus is basketball. "I knew him before he was Linmania. He's still the same humble guy," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "The guy has not changed a bit, which is real special for a young man." Lin played last season in Golden State for Smart, who praised Lin's work ethic and attitude, but never imagined "the perfect storm" that would lead to these results. "It's good Monday morning quarterbacks are here now, but no one could have predicted this guy being this big in this place here," Smart said before the game. Lin opened the game with a three-point play, giving him nine straight points dating to late Tuesday, but passed more than shot as the Knicks scored easily in the first half. Lin beat the defense with penetration and dishes to shooters, or by throwing lob passes over the top. The Knicks led 25-17 after one quarter, then blew it open late in the second. Novak converted a four-point play, Lin hooked up with Fields for an alley-oop dunk, then made a free throw to cap a run of seven straight points and make it an 18-point game. The Knicks closed the scoring when Lin drove and threw a wraparound pass to Tyson Chandler for a dunk with 1.7 seconds left, extending it to 54-36. "I just thought we played really exceptionally well the first quarter," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Just the ball was moving, every time we drew up a play they ran it perfectly. Every time I think there was an opportunity to make a great pass, they did it." Lin had six points and nine assists in the first half. He found Fields for a layup that made it a 25-point game early in the third, and the Knicks coasted from there. Notes: Kings rookie guard Isaiah Thomas was booed when his name was announced after checking in late in the first quarter. The names are pronounced the same, but he's not related to former Knicks coach and president Isiah Thomas. "I knew it was going to happen here," Thomas said. "I was expecting something. Spike Lee told me next time you come to New York, you better change your name." ... The Knicks last won seven in a row near the end of last season. ... Former vice president Al Gore and ex-heavyweight champion Mike Tyson were at the game.

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

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Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.

But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.

The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.

“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.

“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”

Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that. 

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.

But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.

“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.

“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.

But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.

Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.

Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.

“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”

The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.

Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.