His old team decided not to show up, but Jeremy Lin made sure Linsanity would reign at Madison Square Garden once again.
Lin came out to cheers from the New York crowd, and then gave the fans their money’s worth in his return to the Big Apple. The Rockets’ triggerman put up 22 points and 8 dimes in 109-96 win.
Better yet, if there were any startling issues with Lin’s game, he left them on the couch.
He shot a scintillating 60% from the floor and finished with a plus-minus of +18. Better yet, Lin looked in sync with his Rocket teammates throughout, finding his looks within the offense and contributing positive plays.
All the calls for Lin needing to come off the bench will quiet for tonight. He thrived under the lights of the national coverage yet again and seemed far and away the best point guard option the team has on the roster.
This Knicks win could be the catalyst for a turnaround in Lin’s season. He now has the return to New York off of his conscience, not on his radar until next season.
With the weight of his tumultuous departure finally behind him, he can put away what he did as a Knick, and be focused on what he needs to do as a Rocket.
There was no better indication of that than James Harden and Lin executing in the penetrate-and-kick offense from start to finish.
The Rockets’ starting backcourt has been chastised for not having enough basketballs to coexist, but tonight they worked off each other swimmingly. “Beardsanity” combined for 50 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists on the night.
Much chatter was made about the Lin-Raymond Felton battle, and perhaps surprisingly, the former came out on top. Felton finished with 14 points and only four assists, going 0-for-4 from three and having 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Here's TheBigLead's Jason McIntyre's latest thoughts on the Lin-Felton "rivalry":
They're booing Lin in MSG. He's torching Felton badly is probably why. I'm wearing my Lin NYK shirt. Changing to Sanchez in 20— Jason McIntyre (@TheBigLead) December 18, 2012
Hopefully for Lin, this brilliant performance wasn’t just an outlier amongst a seasons worth of middling performances.
But if we’ve learned anything before, Jeremy Lin only needs one game to jumpstart his career. Perhaps his return to New York represented his move to the next level.