Lin scored 13 points on 6 of 12 shooting from the field, including seven rebounds, three assists and one steal in his first game against the team that gave him a chance. But James Harden scored 33 points and Chandler Parsons had a career-high 31 points to help lift the Rockets past the Knicks.
Lin went undrafted after coming out of Harvard and became a sensation for the Knicks last year with an incredible stretch in February when he scored at least 20 points in nine of 10 games. His career high came on Feb. 10 in a 92-85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers where he scored 38 points and seven assists.
The Rockets released Lin before he signed as a free-agent with New York. He resigned with Houston during the summer after Knicks chose not to match Houston’s three-year, $25 million offer.
“I’m not looking to recreate what happened in New York,” Lin said. “I want to be a consistent player. I want to get better. I don’t know what my potential is. I don’t know if I can play any better than I did during that stretch, but I’m going to find out to see how close I can get.”
Despite Harden and Parsons impressive performance Friday night, all eyes were focused on the dynamic between Lin and the Knicks. Former Knicks teammates did not seem to have any hard feelings towards Lin after the game.
“He’s a cool guy. I don’t have a problem with him as a person,” said Carmelo Anthony in the post-game interview, who led all scorers with 37 points. “It was just good to see him back out there.”
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Rockets interim coach Kelvin Sampson said he thought Friday’s game was one of Lin’s better games this season.
“He attacked and played with swagger tonight, and that was good to see,” Sampson said.
Even though Lin was able to help the Rockets secure the victory, not everything went as according to plan during the game.
“I lost part of my tooth on the floor,” said Lin, who chipped one of his front teeth while scrambling for the ball near the end of the first half.
Lin and the Rockets will have the opportunity to face the Knicks again on Dec. 17 as they travel to Madison Square Garden for the rematch. Lin is hopeful they can pull out the win as all the lights will be on him in his return to New York.