By Ben Golliver
Rockets guard Jeremy Lin, asked about his first return trip to New York's Madison Square Garden on Monday night, said this week that he was "definitely ready to get it over with" and that he was eager for "closure."
That was kind of a depressing take from the obscure guard turned global icon, but it was understandable given the Knicks' strong start without him and his own uneven play.
The Madison Square Garden crowd took the high road during player introductions on Monday night, remaining silent through as the Rockets were introduced but then breaking into meaningful cheers for Lin, who emerged as a fan favorite last year. Video of MSG's reaction is above via the NBA on Telly.com.
Knicks center Tyson Chandler, however, wasn't quite as hospitable in welcoming Lin back to the Big Apple.
With 3:39 remaining in the second quarter and the Rockets out to a 47-39 over the Knicks, who were playing without Carmelo Anthony, Lin attacked the hoop hard from the right corner. Chandler, the NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, rotated down to defend the paint, knocking Lin out the air with a two-arm hit to Lin's upper body. Chandler's blow was deemed a flagrant foul one and he was allowed to continue playing. Check out video of the flagrant foul below via YouTube user RocketsRed.
The Rockets wound up blowing out the Knicks in Lin's return, prevailing 109-96. Lin finished with 22 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals on nine-for-15 shooting in 39 minutes. James Harden had a team-high 28 points. Chris Copeland led the Knicks with a team-high 29 points and five rebounds.
"It was great to be back and it was a lot of fun to play on that court again," Lin said, according to SNY.tv. "I'm thankful to the fans and a lot of people showed out and supported and wore my old jersey."
Lin, 24, averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 last season before signing a three-year, $25 million offer sheet with the Rockets over the summer that the Knicks elected not to match. Lin last played in front of the Madison Square Garden crowd on March 24, as he sat out the final stretch of the regular season and the playoffs after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.