Linderella story goes on as Knicks top Raptors

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Linderella story goes on as Knicks top Raptors

TORONTO - “Linsanity” slammed into hockey-mad Canada with the force of a winter storm on Tuesday as Jeremy Lin, the National Basketball Association’s newest sensation, set hearts aflutter with a Valentine’s Day visit to the league’s most northern outpost.

A game between two losing teams would not normally qualify as a must-see event, but Lin, the anonymous benchwarmer turned NBA superstar in a week, made the New York Knicks’ visit to the Toronto Raptors the hottest ticket in town.

Part of Lin’s immense appeal is his made-for-Hollywood backstory of sleeping on his brother’s couch one day and living the American dream the next.

The Linderella story continued at the Air Canada Center as the Taiwanese-American stepped up and coolly dropped a 3-pointer from the top of the arc with a half-second to play to stun the Raptors 90-87.

That spellbinding piece of magic gave the Knicks their sixth straight victory, with Lin the driving force after starting in the last five games.

On a day dedicated to love, Lin’s last-minute heroics to cap an occasionally ragged performance gave Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni hope the 23-year-old might be set for a long-term relationship with the NBA, rather than the occasional one-night stand.

“He’s a tough kid, you don’t know that until you go into games with him,” D’Antoni told reporters. “He’s really tough, mentally he’s there. I have complete faith in him. He was pretty confident that was going in.

“He’s a marked man now. He isn’t going to sneak up on anybody.”

Lin committed eight turnovers but with the game on the line he was again the Knicks’ go-to guy, scoring New York’s last six points, including his long-range winner to finish with a game-high 27 points and 11 assists.

The first Taiwanese-American to play in the NBA, Lin’s rise from obscurity to toast of the Big Apple is an extraordinary tale that is hard to resist.

The point guard from Harvard, a college better known as a springboard to the U.S. presidency than the NBA, went undrafted and was cut by Golden State and Houston before finding a place at the end of the Knicks bench in December.

Given his chance, Lin seized the NBA spotlight with both hands, and has inspired the Knicks with a string of stunning performances.

“You have to have luck in life ... he had an opportunity and took advantage of it,” said D’Antoni. “There are a lot of NBA players who don’t make it. Sometimes you get lucky. It’s a great story, so enjoy it, hopefully it will last.”

As the first ripples of “Linsanity” hit Asia, marketing men have rubbed their hands with glee as they contemplate a candidate to fill the very large shoes left by last year’s retirement of Yao Ming. Reuters

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