(CBS/AP) As Linsanity stormed the NBA this past week, there has always been an elephant in the room - and that room is Madison Square Garden.
The inevitable question hovered: Will the Knicks stay hot when their two superstars return?
The team, thanks to the unlikely star play of Jeremy Lin, has won five straight - but now the big boys are coming back. Amare Stoudemire returned to practice Monday after leaving the team a week ago after his older brother was killed in a car crash.
"The only positive for us during that whole week was we were watching the basketball games and we were watching Linsanity and my family was getting a kick out of it," Stoudemire said. "That's the only smiles really they had all week."
Stoudemire figures to benefit from Lin's mastery of the pick-and-roll and pass-first approach. But what about Carmelo Anthony? The hobbled star is expected back at the end of this week after being sidelined with a right groin injury last week.
Will Anthony, who thrives in 1-on-1 isolations, be able to adapt to the prick-and-roll offense that Lin has so expertly led? There are skeptics and Anthony has heard them.
"It doesn't bother me," he said. "I know what I bring to the game, I know what I bring to this team, my teammates know what I bring to the team and the only thing I can do is just go out there and continue doing what I'm doing. Like I said, Jeremy, he's our point guard right now, he's proven that, he's playing extremely well, and I look forward to playing with him, I'll tell you that."
Anthony even had this to say: "This is like a dream come true to me."
Lin and Anthony could not have taken different paths to Madison Square Garden. Lin, the NBA's first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese decent, came with little expectations after he was undrafted out of Harvard and cut by two other teams before the Knicks picked him up in December. Anthony is the superstar whom the Knicks broke up a promising team to acquire from Denver last season, and that comes with pressure to play great and make sure the team is, too.
Part of that pressure is, inevitably, to put up numbers. Anthony averages nearly 25 points per game in his NBA career and Stoudemire averages more than 21 in his career. That means the nights of Lin putting up 38 (like he did against the Lakers) are probably over. But with two scorers on the floor, Lin's assists figure to go up.
Lin understands why some are wondering about the chemistry of the team when Anthony returns. But he says Carmelo's return will help - not only for his scoring, but his passing as well.
"I can see why they're questioning it, just because he's a playmaker as well and he has the ball in his hands a lot, but I think when he comes back we're just going to continue to run what works for us, and he's actually in my opinion an underrated passer," Lin said. "I think we'll be fine once he gets back."