Taipei — Asian-American NBA star Jeremy Lin and teammate James Harden joined hands on Sunday to help the Houston Rockets beat the Indiana Pacers 107-98 in an NBA preseason game held in Taipei, Lin’s ancestral home.
As a point guard, Lin scored 17 points in his 34-minute play while centre Harden contributed 21 points in a game that drew a sell-out crowd of more than 13,000 fans at the Taipei Arena statidum.
When Lin had to quit just a few minutes before the close of the game, local fans gave him a thundering applause.
“I’m happy with the result. After all, we won. Playing (basketball) here is crazy. Fans are noisy and passionate,” Lin said in Mandarin Chinese at a press conference.
Houston coach Kevin McHale added: “The atmosphere was unbelievable. Yes, it was definitely Jeremy Lin’s home court. He played very well.”
“The last week to 10 days he?s been very, very good in our games and our practices. I think he?s really comfortable with who he is. He?s in a good state of mind”, McHale said.
The 25-year-old, whose parents are Taiwanese, has become a sporting hero on the island since he shot to stardom in the NBA with the New York Knicks early last year, sparking a global following known as “Linsanity”.
Lin, who was later traded to Houston, had a mixed performance in his first full NBA season that saw the Rockets eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
McHale said he could understand the tremendous pressure on Lin after he swiftly rose to his fame and emerged as the basketball icon in Asia and elsewhere in the world.
“He is a great young man, he worked out very hard this summer,” McHale said, in his reference to Lin’s step-up training, including in shooting where he has sometimes struggled, after his first full-year with NBA.
NBA commissioner David Stern on Saturday hailed Lin’s success as a “true milestone”, saying Lin had been “adopted by all countries in Asia as their very own” after the two NBA team’s successful exhibition game in Manila last week.
At Sunday’s game, Paul George led the Pacers with 19 points followed by 17 points of George Hill.
Among those watching Sunday’s game in Taipei were Terry Gou, founder of Taiwan’s tech giant Hon Hai Precision and Chinese basketball icon Yao Ming, a former Rockets centre.