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Notebook: Lin says 'it was great to be back'

Jeremy Lin signs autographs before the Rockets' victory at Madison Square Garden. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

On Sunday, Jeremy Lin said he just wanted to get his first trip to Madison Square Garden out of the way.

But it sure looked like he had a good time on the Garden floor Monday night.

Lin hurt the Knicks with an efficient 22 points and eight assists in Houston's win. It was a little like Linsanity all over again.

"For me, it was great to be back. It was a lot of fun playing on the court again," Lin said after the Rockets handed the Knicks their first home loss of the season.

Lin was pleasantly surprised to see fans dressed in his Knicks jersey in the Garden crowd. He was also thankful for the ovation he got during player introductions.

"It was actually a lot better than I thought," he said.

Once the ball went up, Lin and James Harden went out and torched the Knicks.

Lin helped Houston build a 14-point lead at halftime. He had his fingerprints all over the Rockets' decisive 15-0 third-quarter run with four points and three assists in a 2:09 span to help Houston go up by 20.

"He had a good game, plain and simple," Raymond Felton said of Lin.

Before the game, Lin begrudgingly rehashed his take on what happened over the summer, saying he initially expected to be back in New York.

The Knicks, remember, were poised to re-sign Lin as a restricted free agent. Mike Woodson even said publicly that Lin would be the Knicks' starting point guard shortly after the Rockets' first offer sheet was reported. But Houston then changed the terms of the deal to include a $14.9 million poison pill in the third year.

"We wanted Jeremy back," Mike Woodson. "I made that publicly [known] back in the summer when we were going through the recruitment process. But things changed from a business standpoint and Jeremy decided to take the Houston deal. He has every right to do that. As an organization, we’ve moved on."

Lin has, as well.

He's in the midst of what he called an "up-and-down" season in his first year with Houston.

But he turned in a highlight performance on Monday to improve to 2-0 against his former team.

Someone asked Lin after the game about trying to recreate Linsanity this season in Houston. He quickly downplayed the idea.

"Not really. I'm in a very different place now," Lin said. "I've moved on, they've moved on, and we have good memories, but at the same time, we're all in a different place now.

"The easy part for me is to make sure that I don't try to live up to that," he added. "As long as I do that, I'm not really worried too much about anything else."

TYSON SAYS IT WASN'T A FLAGRANT: Tyson Chandler thought the refs made the wrong call when they whistled him for a flagrant foul on Lin in the second quarter. Chandler hit Lin hard on the ex-Knick's drive to the rim.

"I don't think it was a flagrant foul," Chandler said. "It was a hard foul, a foul that prevented him from making a layup, but he walked to the free throw line. It wasn't that hard of a foul."

It was Chandler's second flagrant of the season -- and his second against the Rockets. Chandler's first flagrant came in late November in Houston when he elbowed Omer Asik in the throat.

Lin and Chandler talked after the game, and there was no ill intent on Chandler's behalf.

"We know it's competition," Lin said. "At the end of the day, I totally understand when someone comes in your lane, you want to make sure they think twice about coming back. It was just fun, it was friendly; it wasn't malicious."

COPE-ING MECHANISM: One bright spot for the Knicks on Monday was Chris Copeland. Filling in for Carmelo Anthony (left ankle), the rookie had a career-high 29 points on 11-for-19 shooting.

He had nine points early in the third to help cut a 14-point Rockets lead to five. But Houston reeled off 15 straight points to regain control.

"Copeland can score the ball, that's what he does," Woodson said. "He was one of the bright spots in the game tonight."

Pablo Prigioni also had a season-high 14 points.

TEAM MOTTO: Each Knick had a printout on his chair in the locker room before the game. It had "WIN" printed in bold letters on top with the phrase "We don't predict the future; we create it" across the middle.

It was branded with "Knickstape" -- a popular phrase among the team -- across the bottom.