The Houston Rockets defeated the New York Knicks 131-103 in their first National Basketball Association meeting since Jeremy Lin rejoined the Rockets.
The Rockets improved to 6-7, while the Knicks fell to 8-3 after last night’s contest at the Toyota Center in Houston. The Knicks lead the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division by one game over the Brooklyn Nets (7-4), who beat the Los Angeles Clippers 86-76 last night.
James Harden had 33 points and Chandler Parsons scored a career-high 31 for the Rockets, who led 72-57 at halftime. Lin added 13 points for Houston.
“This was an unacceptable performance,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson, whose team has lost two straight games for the first time this season, told reporters. “We weren’t ready to play, and that’s on me.”
Carmelo Anthony had a season-high 37 points for the Knicks, who also lost two nights earlier in Dallas. Raymond Felton added 17 points.
Lin, 24, had a short stint with the Rockets before signing with the Knicks in December 2011 and becoming a starter two months later. He moved back to Houston as a free agent before this season.
Lin had seven rebounds and three assists in 35 minutes last night.
“They are playing the style he played in New York with us,” Woodson said of Lin. “He’s got the ball in his hands a lot.”
It’s been about nine months since Lin, a Harvard University graduate, drew global acclaim after helping a Knicks’ turnaround that ended with a playoff berth.
Lin’s inclusion in the Knicks’ starting lineup sparked a six-game winning streak and a surge in television ratings, ticket prices and merchandise sales, as well as increased coverage of the team in Asia.
Interest in his play may have also helped settle a contract dispute between Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the team and its television network, and Time Warner Cable Inc. The craze became known as Linsanity.
A knee injury forced Lin to have surgery at the end of March, ending his season, and the Knicks went on to lose 4-1 in a best-of-seven opening-round playoff series against the eventual NBA-champion Miami Heat.
Despite the marketing boon he created for the Knicks, the team opted in July not to match a three-year, $25 million contract offer for Lin by the Rockets because the back-loaded deal would have placed too much of a financial burden on New York under the league’s luxury tax.
“He doesn’t need to do anything special because he used to play on the Knicks,” Parsons said of Lin. “He’s with us now and he just needs to do all the little things.”
Instead, the Knicks turned to Felton, a former Knick whom they reacquired in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers. They also signed 39-year-old Jason Kidd, a 10-time All-Star and the NBA’s active career leader in assists and steals.
Felton, 28, entered last night’s game averaging 15.7 points and 6.9 assists per game, while Kidd had 8.3 points and 2.1 steals per contest. Lin was averaging 10 points and 6.3 assists for the Rockets.