NEW YORK -- Jeremy Lin didn't hear the cheers when his name was announced just before he entered the game at the 5:33 mark in the first quarter.
Lin also says he did not hear the smattering of boos whenever he was at the free throw line. He just tried to concentrate on the game, have fun and do what he keeps doing against the Knicks -- win. Lin improved to 3-0 against the Knicks since leaving New York as the Rockets left the Garden with a 109-106 victory.
It's safe to say that his second return to the Garden wasn't nearly as intense as the first time back last year.
"Yeah, it is a lot more mellow," Lin said.
Lin scored 21 points and added five rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes off the bench and had some flashes of Linsanity.
"I was just having fun out there," said Lin, who was surrounded by a throng of reporters after the game. "You know I miss playing at the Garden. It’s great to come back here once a year and play. The fans are great. The atmosphere is incredible. It was just a lot of fun for everyone."
Well, not fun for the Knicks. Lin is averaging 18.6 points and five assists against his old team. There were still some Lin fans who came to the Garden to see the former Knick favorite. Lin, though, said he did not hear any of the cheers or boos he received throughout the night.
Lin's night began at the free-throw line. He went 6-for-6 from the line in the first quarter. He started heating up early in the fourth quarter when he made 4 of 6 shots and scored nine of his points. He drilled a 3-pointer and drove the lane for an uncontested dunk to put the Rockets up 83-75 with 10:04 left. He buried a 23-footer and had a fast break dunk with 7:21 left to keep the Knicks down six.
With the lead down to 102-100, Lin had an eight-foot shot rejected by J.R. Smith with 2:22 left. But the Rockets would survive and Lin left New York with another win.
Afterward, he shook hands with some of his old teammates.
"It was great to see Shump [Iman Shumpert] -- unfortunately Tyson [Chandler] is hurt -- Melo [Carmelo Anthony], STAT [Amar'e Stoudemire] and J.R., all of the guys I had some good memories with," Lin said. "It was definitely fun talking with them on the court."
"I was so focused on playing, I try to tune everything else out," he added of his reception from the Garden fans. "I don’t try to listen to anything, hear anything, see anything. Try to play worry free. Try to be myself on the court. Not worry too much about anything. Any distractions. Really trying to play as hard as I can."