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Jeremy Lin: Game #24 win vs New York – 22 pts, 9/15 fg, 8 ast, 4 reb, 2 stl, +18 (record 12-12)

The man who authored Linsanity couldn’t have scripted it any better.
Jeremy Lin got out of the Garden Monday night with a win over his old team, sending the Knicks to their first home defeat of the season.

Lin didn’t dominate the way he did when he was Mr. NBA in his couple of weeks of glory as a Knick last season. But he totaled more points (22) and had more assists (8) than Raymond Felton andJason Kidd combined (19, 7), in the Rockets’ 109-96 win.

20110717113427852Lin might have traded in his Knick colors for the Rockets’ red road uniforms, but he’s still a big deal around here, the place where he burst onto the NBA scene. After doing an interview on NBA TV, he walked to the media room to meet the big crowd of reporters, signing autographs almost every step of the way.

“I’m just thankful to get the win,’’ he said, seated on the podium after scoring 22 points. “I had a lot of fun out there. And tonight we took a step in the right direction.’’

He didn’t gloat, but he must have felt good about the way he did his part, giving James Harden a real secondary option, in making it two-for-two this season over his old team. It’s only one game, but he did more for his team in the win than Felton or Kidd, his successors at the Knicks’ playmaking position.

Lin is still a man of few words and not a lot of insight. But he had this game pegged when he said, “We just tried to play fast and quick.”

The 12-12 Rockets were so much faster and quicker than the 18-6 Knicks, especially when they poured in 80 points over the final three quarters. The loss stung Mike Woodson, even if he tried to reason afterward, “We’re not going to win every game.”

Not when they don’t have Carmelo Anthony or Amar’e Stoudemire. The Knicks can’t keep beating everybody if they don’t have both of their premier scorers. They’re not that deep, especially when the other team has a player like Harden, who had 28 points.

“They were missing some very key guys,’’ Lin said. “They were definitely not their full team.”

The funny thing was, Lin listed “Shump’’ Iman Shumpert first, calling his old backcourt mate “a difference-maker.”

As the Knicks have raced to the top of the East, Shumpert’s on-the-ball defense hasn’t exactly been missed. But it was on Monday, when the Knicks didn’t even try on the defensive end.

The lack of effort, puzzling as it was since the Knicks got away with a bad defensive game in winning over Cleveland on Saturday, didn’t sit well with their coach.

“We played awful,” Woodson said. “We gave up too many shots at the rim. That’s a no-no in our system. We were standing around too much.”
If the Rockets have proven anything, it’s that their system is not a good matchup for the Knicks.

So this is one team the Knicks won’t want to see in the Finals.

But New York fans are a different story, because they’ve still got a love affair going with Lin. As the sellout crowd filed into the Garden, it wasn’t difficult to spot those No. 17 jerseys that ranked among the top-sellers in the league last season. Then they cheered Lin, gave him a raucous ovation during player introductions.

“I am still thankful for the fans,’’ he said. “It was a lot better than I thought.”
Once the game started, he drew a lot of boos, but that’s because he mostly made the right plays at the Knicks’ expense. His eight assists were a team high, while he had one of those rare games when he shot the ball well, making nine of 15 attempts, with five of his six misses from beyond the arc.

The one time he got knocked down, he drew a flagrant foul on Tyson Chandler. But that was about the only time that the Knicks tried to protect the basket.

“I totally understand,’’ Lin said. “He hit me hard, but I kept on coming.”

If there’s one difference between Lin from last year and now, he didn’t get nearly the calls he did as a Knick. As much as he drew contract, he went to the line only four times. In a similar game last year, he would have taken up residency at the charity stripe for the evening. But he didn’t have any complaints, admitting, “It was great to be back and playing on that court again.”
It wasn’t Linsanity, but for Jeremy Lin, what’s not to like?

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