By Matt Buser
The Knicks' next hope to turn the season around? Jeremy Lin, who is now the team's starting point guard after posting a huge line in Saturday's win over the Nets (36 minutes, 25 points, 10-19 FG, 5 boards, 7 assists, 1 turnover, 2 steals). The Knicks still have no idea when Baron Davis might join the team's active roster - Mike D'Antoni confirmed that he had a setback and said the team is not counting on his returning before the February 24-27 All-Star break, but "If he does, great." As for Lin, D'Antoni will certainly give him every chance to make things work after his showing on Saturday - he finished six of eight shots at the rim and had six of his assists finished at the rim [via HoopData], showing the exact combination of aggressiveness and decision-making that the Knicks have been lacking at the position. A quick scouting report includes good college numbers, good D-League numbers, and a surprising amount of defensive plays while seeing his NBA minutes. With Davis' status perpetually questionable and D'Antoni still searching for ways to not play Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby, an add here makes sense in plenty of formats.
• Kevin Durant is making a push to wrestle the No.1 ranking in per-game numbers back from LeBron James, and he's doing it on the defensive end of the court. Durant has a double-double in five straight games, has blocked at least two shots in four straight, and his averages over the past 12 games include 28.1 points on 54-percent shooting, 1.3 threes, 9.6 boards, 1.5 steals, and 2 blocks in 39 minutes. His assist-to-turnover ratio remains problematic, (2.8:3.9 over the past 12), but it's most certainly a non-issue in the context of this spike in defensive numbers. Durant's ranks during those 12 games: 19th in rebounds, 31st in steals, and 12th in blocks.
• Luol Deng wasted no time in his return from the left wrist injury that cost him seven games, playing 41 minutes on Saturday (21 points, 9-19 FG, 3-7 3PT, 9 boards, 1 steal, 1 block). Deng had no issues during or after the game and was also fine as a full participant in the team's Sunday practice, so all parties are "encouraged" according to Tom Thibodeau .. Spencer Hawes also showed no ill effects after returning from 10 games off due to an Achilles strain to play 32 minutes on Saturday (14 points, 7-11 FG, 5 boards, 1 block). The 76ers were very cautious to hold Hawes out until they were absolutely sure that he was 100 percent.
• Kevin Love has been suspended two games for driving his foot into the upper body and face of Luis Scola on Saturday. After the game, Love said it wasn't intentional and apologized to Scola, but taking a look at the replay makes it hard to find much sympathy for Love's case. He will serve the suspension on Tuesday (SAC) and Wednesday (@MEM), and Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley figure to inherit the majority of his minutes.
• The Knicks will be without Amar'e Stoudemire on Monday night, as he has left the team following the passing of his older brother from injuries sustained in a car accident. It's fairly safe to assume that Amar'e will be out for at least the next two games - the Knicks play Monday (UTA), Wednesday (@WAS), Friday (LAL), and Saturday (@MIN), and then have Sunday and Monday off. Jared Jeffries is expected to start at power forward in Stoudemire's place on Monday.
• Status Updates:Elton Brand (thumb) is out again Monday .. The Mavs hope Jason Kidd (calf) can return by Wednesday .. Nuggets on Monday: Nene Hilario (heel), Arron Afflalo (foot), and Tomofey Mozgov (ankle) are out; Kenneth Faried, Julyan Stone, and Kosta Koufos will start .. Brandon Knight (broken nose) will be fitted with a mask and is not expected to miss any games .. Tony Allen (knee) is a game-time decision Monday .. When asked Sunday, Tyrone Corbin said he has no plans to demote Devin Harris from the starting lineup .. Both Brook Lopez and MarShon Brooks may attempt to return to Nets' practices this week .. Jameer Nelson (concussion) has been cleared to return on Monday .. Jared Dudley (thigh) will play Monday .. Raymond Felton (ankle) is doubtful for Monday .. Carl Landry could miss up to a month with a left MCL sprain, and Jason Smith won't play Monday because of a concussion, meaning Gustavo Ayon will make his first NBA start .. Jarrett Jack (knee) is also out again Monday .. D.J. Augustin (toe) remains without a timetable.
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders:Jason Thompson posted his third consecutive double-double on Saturday (40 minutes, 15 points, 16 boards) and has averaged 10.9 points on 52-percent shooting and 9.1 boards in 30 minutes as a starter. Thompson's lines don't often go much deeper than those three stats, but he's looking like a reasonable bet to maintain those minutes, at the expense of J.J. Hickson .. Reggie Williams flashed his solid offensive game Saturday (39 minutes, 21 points, 8-15 FG, 2-8 3PT, 6 assists) and will have plenty of opportunities to do so over the next few weeks. His larger long-term fantasy prospects remain in question, however, with returns of D.J. Augustin, Corey Maggette, and Gerald Henderson on the horizon .. Can I explain John Salmons' averages of 16.5 points on 52-percent shooting, 3 threes, 4 assists, and 2.5 steals over the past two games? No, but Keith Smart's confidence in him has never wavered - hence his starting every game that he's played - and Smart has tightened his rotation even further in recent games .. Yes, I realize it's tough to hold on to James Johnson at this point. My advice: swap him out for the recently-promoted Trevor Booker where possible to grab those steals-plus-blocks and keep an eye on Andrea Bargnani's timetable for a return from his calf injury .. Feel free to cut Stephen Jackson in anything resembling a standard league. The Bucks aren't going to play him and no team is going to trade for him. The outlandish rumors that the Nets will try to trade for him likely came to be simply because S-Jax and Dwight Howard share the same agent .. We'll have to see what happens to Alonzo Gee's playing time once Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker return from injury, but he's certainly making a case to stay heavily-featured in the Cavs' rotation. Averages over the past seven games include 11 points on 48-percent shooting, 0.9 threes (38%), 4.7 boards, and 2.1 steals in 28 minutes .. Bismack Biyombo started at center for the Bobcats on Saturday and likely would have even if DeSagana Diop weren't injured. Biyombo's per-30 minute averages thus far include 7.1 points, 7.8 boards, 3.1 blocks, 1.9 turnovers, and 4.7 fouls, so he's only viable in deep leagues at this point.