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Monday, December 17, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Rockets 109, Knicks 96

By Ian Begley



WHAT IT MEANS: Apparently, some things never change.

Jeremy Lin played his best basketball with the Knicks last year when Carmelo Anthony was out.

It was no different on Monday in his return to the Garden.

Lin made it look like "Linsanity" all over again at MSG, pouring in 22 points and handing out eight assists to help Houston to a 109-96 win over the Knicks. James Harden added 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who beat the Knicks without Anthony, missing his second game due to a left ankle injury.

The Knicks' loss was their first at home. They'd started the season 10-0 at Madison Square Garden.

JUST LINSANE: The day before his return to the Garden, Lin told reporters that he wanted to get his one and only game in New York over with.

But he sure looked like he enjoyed himself Monday.

Lin got off to a hot start with 16 points and four assists in the first half as Houston took a 56-42 lead after two quarters.

The Knicks, thanks to 11 points from Chris Copeland, got within five points midway through the third, but that's when Lin made his presence felt again.

He had four assists and two baskets as the Rockets reeled off 15 unanswered points to build a 23-point lead heading into the fourth.

Harden had three straight baskets in the run, including two 3-pointers.

The Knicks tried to chip away in the fourth, but Lin's layup with five minutes to go gave Houston a 20-point lead.

LIN CHEERED, BOOED: Lin received a warm ovation from the Garden faithful, which drowned out a small smattering of boos. He was then booed repeatedly during the game as he and the Rockets began torching the Knicks.

Lin was also drilled by Tyson Chandler, one of his buddies on the Knicks, in the second quarter on a hit that refs ruled a flagrant foul. It's Chandler's second flagrant of the season, both coming against the Rockets.

BETTER THAN FELTON: Lin badly outplayed Knicks point guard Raymond Felton. Felton finished with 14 points on 7-for-18 shooting. Felton had three assists and four turnovers. Jason Kidd also struggled, with five points on 2-for-9 shooting to go along with an uncharacteristic three turnovers.

The rookie Copeland led the Knicks with a career-high 29 points on 11-for-19 shooting.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks will take on the Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday at 7 p.m.