The Harvard graduate finished with 22 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals on 9-of-15 shooting. He posted 16 points in the first half alone, with the second half presenting scarce opportunities for Lin to pad his stat sheet. The score was 83-60 after three quarters in Houston's favor.
Lin exacted a measure of revenge by tormenting the very players who replaced him. Winning by double digits certainly placed the icing on the cake, as Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd could do nothing but watch in awe.
The question is, was this a case of Lin shining under the bright lights of New York City? Or were we witnessing a sign of things to come?
With the Rockets finally embracing Lin's strength of playing with the ball in his hands, it was the latter.
In his first game back at the Garden, Jeremy Lin received a fair balance of cheers and jeers. Fortunately for Lin, the boos only began to rain down when he started torching the Knicks' vaunted defense.
Hitting six of his first eight shots for 16 first-half points will do that.
Upon the airing of a tribute video in his honor, Knicks fans gave Lin a rather warm reception. For the best description, Frank Isola of New York Daily News offers up a breakdown of fan reaction.
Enjoy the comedy.
Terrific response to Jeremy Lin during player intros. The perentage of fans at MSG cheering was probably -- wait for it -- 85%— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) December 18, 2012
For those who don't understand the reference, Lin infamously stated that he was at "80 to 85 percent" healthy before sitting out Game 5 of the first round in the 2012 postseason.
Throughout the remainder of the game, Lin received a chorus of boos for every shot attempt or foul call in his favor. This was never more evident than when Tyson Chandler hit Lin with a flagrant foul. The cheers returned when Lin missed the front end of two free throws.
All in all, Lin's return to the Garden was well-received. Fans paid him the respect that he deserved, with scattered legions offering their support throughout, and Lin rewarded their support with one heck of an outing.
Reaction to the Big Stage
With the bright lights of Madison Square Garden shining down, Jeremy Lin responded magnificently. After Linsanity, what else could we expect?
Lin made four of his first five shots and reminded all of New York City why he captured their hearts.
He finished second on the team with his 22 points, but whether detractors want to admit it or not, Lin led the Rockets to victory.
James Harden may have sealed the deal, but Lin's 16 first-half points presented the Rockets with all the momentum they needed to secure the win. The Knicks can certainly attest to how beneficial that can be.
What's to Come?
Jeremy Lin may not be performing at a statistically comparable level this season, but he's also working out of his comfort zone. This comes by virtue of his playing as an off guard that is expected to thrive in catch-and-shoot situations—one of his least developed traits.
As we witnessed against the Knicks, Lin can still be a game-changer with the rock in his grips. Twenty-two points and eight assists prove just that. As do his 38 points and seven assists against the San Antonio Spurs.
This is not to state that Lin will post all-NBA-caliber averages in the proper schematics. Instead, it is a recognition of the fact that this is his first true season as a starter.
The only way for the Rockets coaching staff to help Lin overcome such growing pains is to place him in position to thrive. Monday night, they learned how beneficial it can be to do so.
With the victory in New York serving as the catalyst for future success, Lin will continue to thrive as the season progresses.