NEW YORK (AP) — His old fans booed him. His old friend clobbered him.
Otherwise, it was Linsanity all over again at Madison Square Garden.
Jeremy Lin had 22 points and eight assists in his return to New York, leading the Houston Rockets to a 109-96 victory Monday night that ended the Knicks' 10-game home winning streak to open the season.
Cheered then jeered, and later floored by Tyson Chandler's flagrant foul, Lin added another masterpiece to the ones he put together last season during the height of his memorable run. No longer the fan favorite he was when wearing the home uniform, Lin got a mixed reception when he left the game with 2:25 remaining and the Rockets leading by 16.
"It was a lot of fun playing out there and I think our team, we took a step in the right direction," Lin said. "And for me, it was great to be back and it was a lot of fun to play on that court again."
James Harden had 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who blew out the Knicks for the second time this season. They have won the last seven meetings, including a 131-103 rout in Houston on Nov. 23.
Rookie Chris Copeland scored a career-high 29 points for the Knicks, who played without leading scorer Carmelo Anthony and had their four-game winning streak snapped. They fell to 18-6, matching the record they finished last season with under Mike Woodson.
Woodson's team decided not to match Houston's contract offer to Lin, and nobody could argue when Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni led the Knicks to the best record in the Eastern Conference with a team that led the NBA in fewest turnovers.
But Lin was the best point guard on the floor, just as he so often was during his dazzling run last winter, when the NBA's first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent went from undrafted benchwarmer to the biggest story in basketball.
"He had a good game, without a doubt," Felton said. "I never talked junk about Jeremy Lin. Anything I said about Jeremy, I felt like he deserved anything. He deserved everything he got. He had a good game. Plain and simple."
Felton scored 14 points but shot 7 of 18. Kidd was 2 for 9, and both committed three turnovers.
The Rockets outscored the Knicks 54-29 over the middle two quarters, denying New York its first 11-0 start at home since the 1991-92 season.
The Knicks trailed by just five midway through the third quarter before the Rockets blew it open with a 15-0 run, with Lin either scoring or assisting on five of their six baskets.
His layup opened the run, and he then found Marcus Morris for a layup and a 3-pointer for a 67-55 Houston lead. Lin assisted on the second of Harden's consecutive 3-pointers, then had a steal and layup that gave Houston a 75-55 cushion.
Lin saw some fans wearing his old jersey, but said he didn't let his mind drift back to last season during the game.
"I've moved on, they've moved on," he said. "We have good memories, but at the same time we're all in a different place now."
Lin doubled his scoring average in what he called an up-and-down season so far.
"I hope this is the start of a nice run for him, because he works really hard," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "He's a great kid. He deserves it."
Anthony decided Monday to give his sprained left ankle a second straight game to recover. The Knicks did get good injury news when Amare Stoudemire, out all season after left knee surgery, was cleared to practice. He will work out with Erie, the Knicks' NBA Development League affiliate, when it works out at the Knicks' training facility on Tuesday.
The Rockets snapped a seven-game road losing streak, their longest since an eight-game skid in 2001-02.
A sellout crowd that included swimsuit model Kate Upton — who was on one fewer Sports Illustrated covers than Lin last February — gave the Harvard graduate a loud ovation during the introduction of starting lineups. The cheers quickly turned to jeers once the game started, particularly when he made a basket. There were boos when Chandler knocked him to the ground with a shot to the head that resulted in a flagrant foul.
Chandler felt it was a clean, hard foul that didn't warrant a flagrant. He and Lin hugged after the game.
"He had a good game," Chandler said. "He had a good game the other night. He's a good player. He's going to have some nights, but I thought we could have took away a lot of his easy baskets, him and James Harden."
J.R. Smith came off the bench to make all five shots and give the Knicks a 31-29 after one. The Rockets scored the first 10 of the second quarter, opening a 39-31 lead on Lin's 3-pointer with 9:26 left in the half. Houston scored the final six of the half, turning an eight-point lead into a 56-42 cushion.
NOTES: Stoudemire is working out with the D-League team because the Knicks are not expected to do much running at practice Tuesday. They haven't held a formal practice since Dec. 4. "It seems strange but we have a stretch right now where we're playing every other day and it's hard to play a game and then think you can come in and drill these guys," Woodson said. "I like to practice, that's where I feel like you learn a lot and stay sharp in terms of your defensive rotations, but I can't run them in practice and expect them to come back and play the next day and then practice again. There's just too many games coming at us right now."
Lin returns to New York, recalls Linsanity fondly
NEW YORK (AP) — Jeremy Lin returned Monday to the home he never thought he was leaving, reflecting fondly on Linsanity but not trying to recreate it.
Lin made his only trip this season with the Houston Rockets to Madison Square Garden, where he went from scrub to sensation last February during a memorable stretch of basketball that made him a worldwide star.
"It was the time of my life, just being able to play basketball and for us to win games and do it in the fashion that we did was so much fun, and energy and buzz, so definitely something I'll remember forever," Lin said during a pregame press conference that even drew a visit from Spike Lee.
Lin received a loud, appreciative cheer during starting lineups from fans, some still wearing the Knicks No. 17 jerseys that the team couldn't keep on the shelves last winter.
The Knicks insisted he would return, and Lin went into free agency believing it. But the Knicks declined to match the contract Lin signed with the Houston Rockets, and Lin said it was "a little weird" to return Monday as a visitor. Lin wouldn't talk much about the summer, beyond saying everything happens for a reason. But Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who refused to discuss Lin earlier this season, seemed to place the blame on Lin for the point guard's departure.
Lin originally agreed to an offer sheet with the Rockets worth about $28 million over four years. The terms were then amended to about $25 million over three years, the final year worth nearly $15 million but would cost the Knicks more than twice that in luxury tax payments under the harsher penalties in the new collective bargaining agreement.
So the Knicks traded for Raymond Felton, and signed Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni.
"We wanted Jeremy back. I made that public back in the summer when we were going through the recruitment process, but things changed from a business standpoint and Jeremy decided to take the Houston deal and he has every right to do that," Woodson said.
"I think as an organization we've moved on. I mean we were able to go out now and field guys like Kidd and Pablo and Raymond, and we're excited about those three guys that we've fielded man, because they've come in here and they've put us in this position, in terms of our 18-5 record and sitting at the top of our division," Woodson added. "So it's no knock against Jeremy, he did what he had to do, by making his decision and we've done what we did what we had to do and we wish him nothing but the best until he plays the Knicks."
In reality, Lin was simply doing what he had to do as a restricted free agent, since the Knicks weren't going to make him an offer until another team had set the market for him. But he had no complaints about the way the things played out, praising Felton for the way he's played for the first-place Knicks.
"It all happened the way it was supposed to," Lin said. "Going into this summer, I thought I'd be coming back to New York, but everything happens for a reason. There's no hard feelings either way and right now I'm in a different place in my life, different chapter, different city, different team."
Lin came into the game averaging just 10.8 points, far below the 24.6 points and 9.2 assists he averaged in those first 10 games of Linsanity last Feb. 4-20. Lin may never reach that level again, and he's OK with that.
"I just need to stay focused and have tunnel vision when it comes to that," Lin said, "and I don't think anybody from the Rockets organization is expecting me to recreate anything and I'm not, either."
But he'll always enjoy thinking about it.
"It will always have a special place no matter how long I play, because that was the beginning for me," he said.
-- Brian Mahoney
Thunder stay atop West, thump Spurs
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Serge Ibaka ripped away an offensive rebound, got hacked in the process and found his way toward midcourt to flex his muscles in celebration.
Ibaka is a force to be reckoned with, and what better way to show it than by delivering his best game of the season against a rival who had a player take a jab at him on Twitter?
Ibaka tied his career best with 25 points and grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 107-93 Monday night for their 11th straight win.
The victory kept San Antonio from creating a virtual tie with the Thunder for the NBA's best record.
It was the first meeting for the teams since San Antonio's Stephen Jackson made a threatening post about Ibaka on Twitter, drawing a $25,000 fine from the NBA.
"I don't want to talk about it," said Ibaka, who set the tone for Oklahoma City by making his first seven shots. "A great win for us. We need that. It's about a team win."
Jackson just happened to make his return after missing the previous 14 games with a broken right pinkie finger.
The two had a chance for a confrontation in the first half when Jackson stood in the way as Ibaka went up to catch an alley-oop from Durant. Jackson stood his ground to prevent Ibaka from dunking, and Ibaka fell to the floor. But Jackson simply raised his hand to claim credit for the foul and peace prevailed.
"I'm leaving that alone," Jackson said. "It's all basketball. Whatever was said on the court is going to stay on the court and I'm going to leave it alone.
"I wish Serge the best."
The Spurs never found an answer for Ibaka, who had just four points while fighting foul trouble in Oklahoma City's season-opening loss at San Antonio. He finished 10 for 16 from the field, led the Thunder to a 49-37 rebounding advantage and also blocked three shots.
"He hurt us bad. ... He was hitting everything," said Jackson, who apologized to Ibaka on Twitter after the initial post.
"That's the same way we lost last year in the playoffs, by him hitting those same shots. I take my hat off. He played a great game tonight."
The teams hadn't faced each other at Chesapeake Energy Arena since the Thunder overcame a 2-0 deficit in last season's Western Conference finals by winning the next four games. The Spurs drew a measure of revenge in the season opener by beating Oklahoma City on Tony Parker's jumper as time expired.
There were no such dramatics in this one, with Parker and Tim Duncan remaining out of the game even after James Anderson stole an ill-advised Ibaka pass and ran out for a two-handed dunk to get the deficit down to 93-84 with 5:29 remaining.
The Spurs came up empty on two possessions with chances to make it closer before Kevin Martin sank a 3-pointer. Ibaka — who else? — and Durant each had two-handed slams in the final minutes to ice it.
"It was just another game on the list for us," said Kevin Durant, who scored 19. "We really respect this team, we really knew it was going to be a tough game. It was good for us to get a win, but we've got to keep moving on."
Parker and Nando De Colo had 14 points apiece to lead the Spurs. Manu Ginobili did not play because he bruised his left quadriceps in Saturday's win at Boston.
Russell Westbrook chipped in 22 points and nine assists and Kevin Martin scored 20 for the Thunder, who had no interest in fanning the flames on the Ibaka-Jackson feud.
"I think he's just a great player and it showed again tonight," teammate Thabo Sefolosha said.
Westbrook didn't even want to admit knowing about the bad blood.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he said
Ibaka had five baskets in the first 6 minutes, including three in a row to wipe away an early 16-10 deficit. He and Martin combined to go 10 for 10 and score 23 points as Oklahoma City then opened a 33-26 lead after Martin's three-point play to start the second quarter.
"I think he got us all going and throughout the whole game, really he made some big plays, made some big shots," Sefolosha said.
San Antonio rallied behind its reserves and went up 41-39 on Tiago Splitter's basket underneath before the Thunder pushed ahead for good with a 12-2 response.
Oklahoma City stretched its lead with 11 straight points during the third quarter, punctuated by Nick Collison's putback that made it 71-56 with 4:27 remaining in the period.
The Spurs tried going to their cornerstones to break up the spurt but Duncan had the ball stolen by Westbrook and then a shot blocked by Ibaka on consecutive possessions and Parker followed by missing a corner 3-pointer off the side of the backboard and then getting a fast-break layup swatted by Durant.
Collison then scored off of Sefolosha's missed 3-pointer, and it was on the next possession that Ibaka flexed his muscles after grabbing three straight offensive rebounds.
"He's growing every single day," Durant said. "He's shooting the jumper well, he's taking guys off the dribble. Of course, you know he blocks shots and rebounds but his offensive game is expanding and that's what we need."
NOTES: After playing 16 of their first 24 games at home, Oklahoma City plays 15 of its next 21 games on the road. The roughest stretch is another three weeks away, when the Thunder play 11 of 13 games away. ... Referee Bennett Salvatore called a technical foul from across the court against Spurs coach Gregg Popovich as he complained to official Scott Twardowski after calling a timeout during Oklahoma City's 11-0 third-quarter run. ... Oklahoma City's last 11-game win streak was in 1996 as the Seattle SuperSonics.
-- Jeff Latzke
Ginobili out, Jackson returns for San Antonio
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili missed the Spurs' game against Oklahoma City on Monday night because of a bruised left quadriceps. Ginobili was hurt in San Antonio's win Saturday at Boston.
The Spurs got forward Stephen Jackson back from a broken right pinkie finger. Jackson had missed San Antonio's previous 14 games.
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Conley, Randolph send Grizzlies past Bulls
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Conley had 17 points, Zach Randolph added 10 points and 15 rebounds, and the Memphis Grizzlies overcame a poor start to beat the Chicago Bulls 80-71 on Monday night.
Conley was 6 of 12 from the field and had four assists. Rudy Gay scored 12 points for the Grizzlies but shot 5 of 13, continuing his slump. Wayne Ellington scored all 11 of his points in the second quarter, when the Grizzlies reserves provided a lift after Memphis shot poorly in the first period.
Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Marco Belinelli finished with 13 points.
Both teams shot just better than 37 percent. But Memphis was 6 of 11 from 3-point range compared to the Bulls hitting only 2 of 11 long-range shots.
CLIPPERS 88, PISTONS 76
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Jamal Crawford scored 15 points and Chris Paul added 14 to lead Los Angeles past Detroit for its 10th straight win.
Blake Griffin had 15 points for the Clippers, who had five players in double figures. Griffin had two breakaway dunks in the last 30 seconds, one on a pass banked off the backboard by Crawford.
Brandon Knight led the Pistons with 16 points and Tayshaun Prince added 15. Detroit has lost five straight.
MAGIC 102, TIMBERWOLVES 93
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Glen Davis scored 28 points and J.J. Redick had 18 points and seven assists as Orlando beat Minnesota.
The Magic won their third straight and stopped the Timberwolves' four-game winning streak. Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double, and Arron Afflalo scored 13 points.
Kevin Love led Minnesota with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Nikola Pekovic had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who led by 15 in the middle of the third quarter but couldn't hang on.
SUNS 101, KINGS 90
PHOENIX (AP) — Shannon Brown scored 14 of his 22 points in the third quarter, Jared Dudley added 20 points and the Phoenix Suns pulled off another big rally to beat Sacramento.
The Suns were out of sorts throughout the first half, scoring 43 points while trailing by up to 19. Brown helped them outscore Sacramento 31-14 in the third quarter and Dudley provided the cushion down the stretch to give Phoenix its first three-game winning streak of the season.
Marcin Gortat had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Luis Scola gave the Suns his usual hustle while scoring 14 points and dishing out a career-high 10 assists.
The Kings played well early, but faded down the stretch to lose their fourth straight game. Jimmer Fredette had 22 points and Aaron Brooks added 12 for Sacramento.
Other NBA News
Van Gundy lauds Clips; Lakers not 'tied together'
NEW YORK (AP) — Jeff Van Gundy will see both Los Angeles teams on Christmas, and for now he likes the Clippers much better.
Van Gundy also ranks New York ahead of Miami at this point, with everyone looking up at Oklahoma City as the NBA heads toward its marquee holiday schedule.
ESPN will show five games that day on its networks, and Van Gundy will call two of them with partner Mike Breen from Staples Center. The Lakers host the New York Knicks in ABC's first broadcast of the season, and the Clippers will face Denver in the nightcap on ESPN.
The Clippers brought a nine-game winning streak and 17-6 record into their game at Detroit on Monday, and were seven games ahead of the disappointing third-place Lakers.
"Right now, the Clippers have played outstanding basketball. They have star power, they have terrific depth and they're playing very well together, and the Lakers aren't healthy and have undergone a lot of change and just haven't played well, haven't played with the enthusiasm of a team that's truly tied together," Van Gundy said.
Beyond injuries to Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, Van Gundy said it's hard to tell without being around them every day what's wrong with the Lakers.
"You can tell by their play that they're just not totally tied together," Van Gundy said. "I think if their health improves that will obviously be a major step forward, but they certainly have to get to where they are really playing for each other and not just with each other."
Brooklyn will host Boston at the new Barclays Center in the opening game of the day. After the Knicks-Lakers matchup, Oklahoma City will visit Miami in a rematch of the NBA Finals. Houston travels to Chicago in the opener of the night doubleheader.
The Heat beat the Thunder in five games last June, but Oklahoma City has raced to a league-best, 19-4 record while winning 10 in a row. Van Gundy said the Heat probably aren't as happy with the way they've played so far, but that it's good enough to win games and he expects they'll get better as the year goes on.
The champs have been routed twice by the Knicks, who own the best record in the East. So at this point, Van Gundy puts the Knicks ahead of the Heat on his list of teams.
"I'm saying right now. It doesn't imply that somebody is going to be better in a playoff series," Van Gundy said. "I'm saying just to date, there's no way you can say the Knicks haven't played better than Miami, because they have. They've beaten them easily twice and they've been very consistent."
Van Gundy and Breen will be joined in the booth for a portion of the late game by actor Billy Crystal, a Clippers fan.
-- Brian Mahoney
Pacers change minds, send Plumlee back to D-League
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Just hours after the Indiana Pacers recalled rookie center Miles Plumlee from the NBA's Developmental League, they sent him right back to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
It's the third time he's been sent to Fort Wayne this season. Plumlee is expected to play Tuesday night against Canton. The team did not give a reason for the change.
Indiana selected Plumlee with the 26th pick overall in June's draft. The Indiana native is considered a raw offensive talent.
But despite the Pacers' early-season struggles, the 6-foot-10 rookie has seen little action. He has played a total of 16 minutes in four games, has four points and five rebounds, and has bounced between the Pacers and Fort Wayne.
Saturday's win in Detroit put Indiana at 13-11, one game behind division-leading Chicago.
Anthony out again, Stoudemire cleared to practice
NEW YORK (AP) — Carmelo Anthony missed his second straight game Monday with a sprained left ankle, while New York Knicks teammate Amare Stoudemire moved closer to returning.
Stoudemire has been out all season after left knee surgery. Coach Mike Woodson says Stoudemire has been cleared to practice and will work out with the Knicks' NBA Development League affiliate this week.
Woodson didn't know if Stoudemire could play this week on the Knicks' homestand, saying he wouldn't rush the veteran forward.
Anthony was hurt last Thursday in a victory over the Lakers and told Woodson earlier Monday he didn't feel ready to play against Houston.