Jeremy Lin, second from left, had his best game as a Houston Rocket with 38 points on Monday, but it wasn't enough as Tony Parker, far right, who had his first career triple-double, led the San Antonio Spurs to a 134-126 victory over the Rockets in Houston. (Photo : Reuters)
Nearly five months after signing for three years and $25 million after his sensational winter in New York, "Linsanity" finally touched down in Houston.
Showing flashes of a familiar sight to hoops fans who remembered the whirling dervish Asian American point guard who lit up Broadway with an array of slashing drives, a sweet shooting touch and an effervescent style of play, Lin had his best game as a Rocket, scoring 38 points on 11-of-21 shooting in play that Houston fans have been waiting to see from their new point guard.
But ultimately, it wasn't enough as rival point guard Tony Parker and Gary Neal combined for 56 points to help lead the Spurs (18-4) past the Rockets (9-11) in a 134-126 overtime thriller Monday in Houston.
With Rockets superstar James Harden--the fifth leading NBA scorer with 24.7 points a game--sidelined for the night with a sprained right ankle, Lin led the Rockets with 38 points, his highest total since joining the team in July.
All night long, Lin attacked the basket, driving through San Antonio's stiff defense in ways similar to how he did when "Linsanity" began last February for the New York Knicks, his former team. And while Lin has struggled with his shooting this season--his field goal average hovering just above 30 percent several times--he shot a stunningly efficient 52 percent from the field.
To top it off, he added in seven assists, three rebounds, two steals, and even two blocks in a multi-faceted performance that had the Houston faithful at the Toyota Center on the edge of their seats.
Despite his big game, Lin could not take any solace afterwards, particularly hard on himself for failing to get a shot off with the score tied at 120 and five seconds left to play in the fourth quarter under pressure from Danny Green.
"I'm thankful that I was able to get comfortable out there, but that's definitely secondary to the fact that we blew another close game," he told reporters afterwards. "I had the ball to win it and didn't even get a shot up. That one hurt."
Lin goes move for move, one-on-one with Tony Parker
All night long, Lin did battle with Parker, who scored less points than Lin, but still had his first career triple double with 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists.
In the third quarter, particularly, Lin was on fire, scoring 15 points in that quarter alone. That is more than in 15 complete games with Houston and more than starting forwards Patrick Patterson and Carlos Delfino combined (Patterson scored eight points and Delfino scored five.)
While the Rockets guard couldn't make a shot with five seconds left that could have won the game for the Rockets in regulation, Lin showed flashes of clutch play, scoring on a high-arching jump shot over Spurs star Tim Duncan to give him 34 and putting Houston up 118-117 with 1:59 left in the fourth quarter.
Parker, with whom Lin is compared strongly to, said before the game that he saw a lot of himself in Lin, particularly how the two started out regarding being overlooked players with explosive steps off the dribble.
Given time, Parker told the Houston Chronicle of Lin, he is confident that the Rockets point guard will find his way.
"He's trying to find his position on the team. And he needs to fit with another guy who is very aggressive with James Harden. I had to do the same thing when I had Manu Ginobili being super aggressive. You have to find your spots. He will."