Monday, December 17, 2012
Rockets' backcourt > Knicks' backcourt
By Ian Begley
It was just one game, so no one should wake up on Tuesday morning arguing that the Knicks didn't make the right call when they let Jeremy Lin walk over the summer.
But it was hard to ignore how badly Lin outplayed the Knicks backcourt in his triumphant return to the Garden.
Lin had a cooly efficient 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting. He handed out eight assists, had two steals while turning it over four times.
Knicks guard Raymond Felton finished with 14 points but missed 11 of his 18 shots. He had four assists and three turnovers in 30 minutes.
Raymond Felton passes under pressure from Jeremy Lin, who returned to MSG for the first time since signing with Houston.
Jason Kidd struggled as well, going 2-for-9 from the field and turning it over three times, a careless number for the 39-year-old veteran.
"We didn't play like we've been playing," Mike Woodson said of his team's backcourt. "Our perimeter play was sloppy in terms of turnovers and not getting into things quick enough."
Turnovers? Poor perimeter play? Slow to get into things on offense?
Those are direct indictments of Felton, who was torched at times by Lin on Monday.
"He had a good game, plain and simple," Felton said of Lin.
And Lin wasn't the only Rocket he could've said that about.
Fellow guard James Harden had 28 points and ten rebounds for Houston. He made half of his 18 shots and was a key reason the Knicks (18-6) lost for the first time in 11 home games on Monday.
"James draws so much attention. Guys like Jeremy and (Chandler) Parsons feed off of that," Felton said. "When James gets going, he demands double teams. You kick it to those guys they can get to the basket just as well as he can. It’s tough to guard."
Lin and Harden got it going in the second quarter, when they combined for 15 points to help the Rockets build a 14-point halftime lead.
Felton and Kidd, by the way, combined for zero points and zero assists in the quarter.
And it only got worse in the third.
New York cut the lead to five points six minutes into the quarter, thanks to nine points from Chris Copeland. But Houston then ran off 15 unanswered points in the next 2:09 to take a 75-55 lead with four minutes to go in the third.
Lin and Harden left their finger prints all over the run.
Lin got it started with a driving layup and assists on the Rockets' next two buckets. Harden then hit two straight threes, the second of which was assisted by Lin. Then Lin capped the run with a driving layup to put the Rockets up 20.
There were still 16 minutes to play, but for all intents and purposes, the game was over.
"We kind of got out of our principles a little bit and they got confidence," Felton said. "When you give a team confidence like that they start hitting all kinds of shots."
And, eventually, they walk off the Garden floor with a win.