Lin, Harden beginning to click for Rockets
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK — Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin looked like he was home Monday at Madison Square Garden.
Well, New York and the Garden used to be his home. Until the Knicks declined to match Houston’s three-year, $25 million offer sheet.
Anticipation began building in recent days for Lin’s return to New York. How would Knicks fans react? How would Lin play?
Well, Knicks fans were Knicks fans, acknowledging Lin with warm applause and a standing ovation from some, then turned on Lin once the game began.
Lin, well, he created some of that magic that enlivened the Garden for seven weeks in February and March of last season.
Lin scored 22 points and had eight assists, four rebounds, two steals and four turnovers as the Rockets defeated the Carmelo Anthony-less Knicks 109-96, giving New York its first home loss in 11 games this season.
“For me, it was a great to be back and a lot of fun to play on that court again,” Lin said.
Lin, who delivered a harsh critique of his game after Sunday’s loss to Toronto, had been all class leading up to this game and was the same afterward.
“I had fun out there and thankful for the fans,” he said. “A lot of people showed up and supported and wore my old jersey. Still thankful to the fans. It was actually a lot better than I thought.”
He said Sunday he sought closure on the Knicks experience, and he may have found it.
“I’m in a very different place now. I’ve moved on. They’ve moved on,” Lin said. “We have good memories, but at the same time, we’re all in a different place now.”
The crowd got into the game and got after Lin late in the second quarter. Knicks center Tyson Chandler hammered Lin at the rim, and refs called Tyson Chandler for a flagrant foul one with 3:39 left in the half. Fans booed Lin when went to shoot his foul shots and cheered when he missed the first. With 2:28 left in the second quarter, Lin airballed a three-point attempt, and the crowd let him know about that, too.