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Lin shines in Rockets landslide win over Knicks

Updated: 2012-12-18 15:35
By Yan Weijue in New York (

Lin shines in Rockets landslide win over Knicks

Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin talks with teammate guard James Harden (L) in the second quarter of their NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York, December 17, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

New York - Jeremy Lin appeared at Madison Square Garden in a red Rockets jersey on Monday night to a gauntlet of cheers and boos. But it proved the 24-year-old point guard can still make an impact on the world's most famous arena.

The Houston Rockets had another landslide victory over the Knicks 109-96 (first one in Nov 23, 131-103). It is also the first home loss of the season for the Knicks who missed its lead scorer Carmelo Anthony for the second straight game due to a sprained ankle.

The absence of Anthony resulted in a scoring drought for the Knicks, who were outscored by 16 points and 9 points in the second and third quarter, separately. Chris Copeland had a game-high 29 points, most of which, however, were in the second half, when the Knicks were trailing 20-plus points.

"We didn't play like we have been playing," said Mike Woodson, Knicks' head coach. "They (Rockets) sort of had their way from the perimeter standpoint and our perimeter play was sloppy tonight in terms of turnovers and just not getting things quick enough from the offense standpoint. And defensively we were standing around too much and not getting it done."

The Rockets kept hustling all night, which made the Knicks uncomfortable as they piled up 17 turnovers, almost 7 more than their season average (10.3).

The Knicks once cut the deficit to 5 with 6'18'' left in the third quarter But the Rockets answered back with a 15-0 run and finally pulled out the easy win.

Lin scored 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting and dished out a team-high 8 assists. James Harden had 28 points and 10 rebounds, and Carlos Delfino chipped in with 16 points off the bench.

As always, Lin was humble for all the success, attributing it to the team effort.

"We are just thankful to get the win," said the Christian athlete. "They are not a full team. They are missing a lot of key guys. And I think right at top of the list is (Iman) Shumpert… and obviously Carmelo and Amare (Stoudemire) didn't play tonight."

"For us, we just really tried to space, play fast, play quick, and move the ball side to side…Tonight I think we complement each other very well."

It has been a whirlwind of a year for Lin. The then head coach Mike D'Antoni put the undrafted Harvard graduate, who was on the edge of losing his job, into the starting line-up as a makeshift for the depleted Knicks on Feb 4 against the New Jersey Nets.

To the surprise of the masses, Lin had a spectacular performance that he was able to sustain throughout the month, during which time the Knicks knocked seven of nine games with him being the starter and returned to the playoffs conversation again.

The phenomenon of "Linsanity" was therefore created, hyped and became the biggest story in the modern sports world, before it snapped as Lin underwent a knee surgery to repair a meniscus tear in April.

The Knicks, however, unexpectedly declined to match a three-year, $25 million offer by the Rockets in July for the restricted free agent, who took his game off Broadway to the Space City, where the league's previous Asian sensation - Yao Ming - rose to fame.

A quarter of the way through the 2012-13 season, Lin has been struggling with his role. He hasn't found his shooting stroke yet (39.5% overall), his stat line - 10.8 pts, 4.0 rebs, 6.0 asts - is far less impressive than that of his 25 starts with the Knicks (18.2 pts, 3.7 rebs, 7.7 asts), and for more than a few games, he was benched late in the game because the statistics suggest the team is in a better position to win.

He certainly had flashes of brilliance, with the latest evidence being his explosion for a career high tying 38 points against the Spurs on Dec 10, which the Rockets lost 134-126 in overtime, and another efficient night (13 pts, 3 asts, 7 rebs) in a 131-103 Nov 23 home victory over the red-hot Knicks. And we should of course count tonight's performance.

To put it simple: Lin's been inconsistent, and he's not meshed up well with his new teammates, which he himself admits

"I am not doing close to what I am capable of doing. I'm my harshest critic and I'll go ahead and say I'm doing terrible," he said after Sunday's road loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Could Monday's victory be a turning point for Lin and the Rockets (who were 12-12, sitting at No.9 in the Western Conference)? He wishes.

"It gives us momentum. The story of our season has been win two, drop two, win three, drop three…things like that. We gotta keep pushing forward."

Nevertheless, Lin's legacy with the Knicks has been restored in the history of the metropolitan where we know a large number of Asian descendants will always show up to root for him once he came to the town. And that is just the emotional moment for every one who has witnessed his amazing run early this year.

"I looking to see him get victory in New York," said John Tsang, a salesman who was born in the Big Apple and growing up being a Knicks fan. "I think Jeremy Lin make all Asian faces proud."

Lin, on the other side, says he is aware of the love from his fans.

"I had fun out there. Thanks to the fans. I know a lot of people showed up, supported, wore my old jerseys, things like that. So I am still thankful for the fans."

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