Updated: November 28, 2012, 4:12 AM ET

1. Lin Wins Point Guard Matchup In Houston

By Rahat Huq
ESPN.com

HOUSTON -- Most everyone was expecting a strong performance Tuesday night from Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry in his first return to Houston after a trade sent him north to Canada.

After all, many of Lowry's best games have come in familiar spots. He reached his career high of 18 assists against the Memphis Grizzlies -- the club that drafted him -- and he set his career high of 36 points against his hometown 76ers.

Earlier in the day, Rockets acting head coach Kelvin Sampson quipped, "I know he'd like to stick it to us."

It didn't quite play out that way.

Lowry finished the night with just 7 points, going 3-for-10 from the floor in his 27 minutes, and getting outdueled by his replacement counterpart, Jeremy Lin. While Lowry did grab 8 boards and dish out 5 assists, he often looked lethargic, not aggressively attacking in the manner observers have become accustomed to seeing.

Lowry rarely got to the paint, seeming content to feature his teammates. At halftime, he had just 2 points to Lin's 9.

James Harden
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesJames Harden has a homecoming of his own Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.

"It wasn't a pleasant one for me," Lowry said after the game. "They kicked our ass tonight and we didn't play well and just got outplayed tonight."

Added Raptors coach Dwane Casey of Lowry's return, "It did not go the way he wanted. He struggled. Those type of games usually go one way or the other.

"You either play great or you get caught up in the situation."

Lowry's counterpart, Lin, the man who was fourth on the Houston point guard depth chart last year at camp, finished the night with 16 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals, having what Sampson called his best game of the season.

"I thought he got his swagger back against New York," Sampson said, adding that Lin had been working hard on his shooting.

That extra practice paid off as Lin missed only two shots from the floor and set the tone for his teammates, looking much more comfortable initiating the offense than he had on previous nights. On many occasions, he darted to the rim with ease, finishing or creating for others. The performance was no doubt a welcome sight for the Rockets as Lin had entered the night shooting just 35 percent from the floor.

The Rockets shot 53 percent overall from the floor and 50 percent from deep, breaking the game open with a 38-point third quarter, their highest scoring output in a quarter this season. At one point, the Houston lead got to as big as 27, but the Raptors whittled things down to get to within 15 in the fourth.

In the end, it wasn't enough and Houston held on. The win was Houston's third in a row, moving them back to .500 at 7-7.

Houston was led Tuesday night by its other backcourt star, James Harden, who finished with 24 points, a career-high-tying 12 assists, and 6 rebounds. Wednesday night, Harden returns to Oklahoma City in another homecoming matchup, maybe the most anticipated one of the year.

The Thunder will get an up-close look at the passing-and-slashing dynamic they traded away. Harden, on the other hand, will no doubt be out to prove his worth against his old mates in his current role as the Rockets' leader. For Houston as a team, it will be a test of their mettle against one of the league's top teams.

Yes, all eyes will be squared toward Oklahoma City tomorrow night. Harden can only hope that his return goes better than Lowry's did in Houston tonight.

Rahat Huq is a contributor to the TrueHoop Network.

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