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Lin needs to handle ball like he handles stardom

GREENBURGH, New York -- Jeremy Lin has flawlessly handled Linsanity. Handling the ball has been tougher.

The New York Knicks point guard has been turnover prone, and it finally caught up to them on Friday in an 89-85 loss to New Orleans.

It was the Knicks' first loss since Lin became the starter and an international sensation. All the hype, and seven straight wins, had prevented much attention on his mistakes. But when he coughed the ball up nine times on Friday, tied for the most in the NBA this season, Lin put the blame on himself and perhaps gave the team reason for worry.

Not so, coach Mike D'Antoni said on Saturday, insisting that Lin's turnovers are “not even a concern” and that the former Harvard University guard will be a quick learner.

“I just want him to keep his mentality to not get hesitant, 'Oh, I might turn it over,'” D'Antoni said. “That's OK. Risk it.”

Taking those risks led to some of Friday's miscues. D'Antoni said Lin occasionally went for the “home run play,” rather than take a simpler option that may have been available, things they looked at on film on Saturday.

“I mean he's a level-headed kid. He's not going to get down. He'll take the blame, that's what Steve Nash did all the time, 'my fault,' but he knows the next game is brand new,” D'Antoni said. “He's playing better than he said he played.

“Twenty-eight (actually 26) points and five assists, you might say, 'Oh, that's not Linsanity,' but for any NBA player that's pretty good. Just too many turnovers.”

Lin has played fearlessly, particularly for someone who had no previous NBA success until two weeks ago. He took big fourth-quarter shots on national TV to beat Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, and calmly fired the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left that gave the Knicks a 90-87 victory in Toronto.

So he wasn't going to let his first failure as an NBA starter linger too long.

“I'm going to keep my preparation the same. I'm OK moving onto the next game,” he said. “I'm going to make mistakes and have bad games, but that's fine with me. I'm going to grow as a player, so I'm not too worried.”

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