GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Jeremy needed to take a break from Linsanity.
And he got it.
After serving as the centerpiece and chief curiosity of All-Star Weekend in Orlando, the Knicks’ point guard got a much-needed, albeit short, rest and spent some quality time with his family in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
“[We] went on a fishing trip out there for a few hours,” Lin said Tuesday after practice. “Just went out on a little estuary out there, caught some redfish, some trout, some catfish, ate it, had the chef down the street cook it for us. That was good.
“It was good for me to just get away, clear my mind, spend time with family and kind of decompress. And now we’re going to hit the ground running, hopefully.”
In the span of two weeks, Lin went from a nobody on the end of the Knick bench to a global superstar.
Over All-Star Weekend, he was featured at two press conferences plus a third for Asian media only.
After being waived by two teams and then sent to the Knicks’ D-League outfit in Erie (Pa.), Lin emerged to average 22.6 points, 8.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds as he led the Knicks on a 9-3 surge before the break.
Yet he was shut down by the Miami Heat in the final game, held to 1-for-11 shooting for eight points with six turnovers.
“I thought he was tired,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “The exact same plays Baron [Davis] had no problem with and Jeremy shuffled a little bit. He had a bad game. He was tired and I think that was the first time he’s seen it.
“We have to understand that Jeremy’s an unbelievable story. He’s gone from nothing to a really good player in the league. He is a rookie. This is the first time he’s seeing things. Now we’re talking about him getting to the level of a Steve Nash, Baron Davis or a Russell Westbrook or [Rajon] Rondo. He’s still got to learn….I think he’s a very good player. We’ll ride and he’ll just keep getting better.”
Overall, there is no denying that Lin made the Knicks’ offense run smoother and with more flow.
Now, as injured players return to the lineup and the Knicks effectively run a training camp during these two weeks with only a few games to play, Lin can mesh with his teammates even more.
“It helps all of us,” Amar’e Stoudemire said. “It gets us into a rhythm out there offensively. Everybody gets into a good spacing. The tempo is great for us. So it’s going to help all of us.”
In his first game back, Lin will get Cleveland Cavaliers rookie point guard Kyrie Irving, who leads NBA rookies in scoring at 18.1 points per game and scored 34 in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday.
“He does everything,” Lin said. “What doesn’t he do well? He can finish. He can drive. He can shoot. He can pass. He’s going to keep me honest with his all around game and I’m going to have to defend.”
Ideally, Davis progresses forward from his herniated disc and is able to spell Lin for 10-15 minutes a game and provide effective backup relief.
The Knicks need a healthy and rested Lin if they are to make a playoff push and challenge the elite teams in the Eastern Conference during the playoffs.
“I think right now it’s kind of back to business, back to work,” Lin said. “Physically, I definitely felt better than before. So as long as I feel better I’m happy.”
D’Antoni said he would like to play Lin and Davis together at times, but doesn’t expect to drastically cut Lin’s minutes.
“He’s playing 35 this year so he’s fine,” the coach said. “We’ll see. There will be times like this week we may have to adjust, maybe wane him down a little bit. I don’t know. It’s hard to predict. We’ll go by feel and by talk. I don’t foresee any problem. He’s a smart kid. He’s a strong kid. I don’t see it.”
Lin said he would like the second half of the season to be more about the Knicks and less about himself.
But that seems unlikely considering there were more than 30 reporters and TV people at Knicks practice.
Asked how to make the Linsanity go away, Lin cracked: “You guys just start talking more about the Knicks and less about me, keep me out of the headlines, I guess.”
“I just think our team, I mean we’re unbelievably talented. You look at the headlines and you look on ESPN and you see ‘Lin this, Lin that.’ But, we may be the deepest team in the NBA. So I think we should start talking about that as well.”
Photo: New York Times