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Sunday, December 16, 2012
Felton says Lin should get ovation at MSG

By Ian Begley

Will Knicks fans greet Jeremy Lin with a warm reception or will they shower him with boos?

It's one of the more interesting dynamics surrounding Lin's return to Madison Square Garden on Monday night.

Raymond Felton -- who was brought in to replace Lin and is one of the driving forces behind the Knicks' 18-5 start -- knows where he stands on the issue.

He wants the Garden faithful to cheer Lin.

Raymond Felton and Jeremy Lin
Raymond Felton and the Knicks lost by 28 points to Jeremy Lin's Rockets on Nov. 23.
"They should. By all means, I hope they do," Felton said. "They should give him a standing ovation when he comes back here, without a doubt."

"I think they're going to give him a heck of an ovation. I'd be shocked if it was anything else," added Steve Novak, one of Lin's closest friends on the Knicks. "Unless everybody changed their mind and hates him, he's one of those guys that people are going to remember for his time here. It wasn't a very long time, but it was special. He played unbelievably well. I think there will be a movie about it one day."

There's no doubt Lin had a made-for-Hollywood run with the Knicks last February.

Undrafted and twice released, Lin was fresh off of a recent D-League stint when he emerged off of the end of the Knicks' bench in early February to lead the team to seven straight wins, almost single-handedly saving the season in the process.

Lin did it with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire on the bench, and became an international phenomenon in the process.

But even the best Broadway shows have a shelf life around here, and Lin's time in New York was no different.

In mid-July, the Knicks decided against matching the Houston Rockets' three-year, $25 million offer sheet, which contained a "poison pill" $14.9 million figure in Year 3 that could have cost New York upward of $40 million due to the luxury tax.

Instead, general manager Glen Grunwald obtained Felton in a sign-and-trade deal and signed Jason Kidd in free agency.

The two veterans have played pivotal roles in the Knicks' hot start. New York averages the fewest turnovers per game in the NBA and has the second-best offense in the league, based on a rating of points per possession. Plenty of credit for that goes to Felton and Kidd.

Lin, on the other hand, has had an inconsistent start in Houston. He's averaging 11 points, 6.1 assists and nearly 2 steals per game, but is shooting 39 percent from the field for the Rockets (11-12).

He has shown flashes of brilliance, such as a 38-point night against the Spurs last week, but has struggled at times to find his role in the Rockets' offense and to fit in with James Harden.

In Lin's first game against the Knicks, a 131-103 win in Houston in late November, he had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists.

Many Knicks mentioned that night -- and not Lin's return to New York -- as their source for motivation on Monday night.

"It's one that we obviously want to get back," said Tyson Chandler, who remains close with Lin. "I'm not excited for him, I'm excited for us to beat him."

By and large, the Knicks have moved on from Linsanity. They are 10-0 at home, off to their best start at home since 1991-92, and their focus is on this season.

Said one player: "We don't really talk about him. Whenever someone talks about the Rockets, we usually talk about Harden."

Felton, who has seemingly picked up right from where he left off during his first stint in New York, respects what Lin did last season. But he said on Saturday that it's time to turn the page on Linsanity.

"What Jeremy did was amazing, was great. I'm happy for him, he got his money. He's the starting point guard in Houston," Felton said. "I used to watch him every game. But it's time to move on. We're 18-5, we're 10-0 at home, so there's no need to talk about that no more."