Indeed, just like he had hoped for, Jeremy Lin was a ‘subplot’ in the Houston Rockets 109-106 win over the New York Knicks Thursday night as he returned to the Garden. Lin scored 21 points off the bench, grabbed 5 rebounds, and struggled from behind the 3-point line, shooting just 1 of 5.
But Lin was not the focal point this time around, and rightfully so. He put on a dazzling display last year in his first return to New York, scoring 22 points and dishing out 9 assists in a Rockets win, but with team headlined by James Harden and Dwight Howard, Lin could only play second fiddle to the game’s main plot.
Harden led the way with 36 points and 9 rebounds, despite playing with a sore foot, while Howard couldn’t find a rhythm on the offensive end, attempting just 8 shots, and finishing with his lowest point total of the season with 7, while grabbing 15 rebounds. But it was Lin’s contributions as well that helped the Rockets close out the win late in the game.
“I was just having fun out there,” Lin stated. “You know I miss playing at the Garden. To be able to come back here once a year, it’s great. The fans are great. Atmosphere was great, incredible. It was just a lot of fun for everyone.”
By everyone, he means some of his teammates I would assume. As the Rockets look to turn things around after a slow start to the season, Lin has quietly been on a tear of late, scoring 86 points in his last 3 games(28.6 a game), while shooting over 50 percent from the field. Howard added:
“Jeremy was great. He attacked the basket hard, played good defense. Jeremy has stepped up and that is what we needed.”
And just as fast as ‘Linsanity’ left the New York atmosphere, the Rockets left Madison Square Garden to go back to Houston. Lin’s presence this time around may be just as big as it was when he left town in July of 2012, as Knicks fans and media are still left to wonder if their beloved team made a mistake in letting him walk away.