‘Linsanity’ powers Houston Rockets past Knicks

Updated 18 December 2012
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‘Linsanity’ powers Houston Rockets past Knicks

NEW YORK: Jeremy Lin put together another signature performance at Madison Square Garden as the Houston Rockets defeated his former team, the Knicks, 109-96 in his first game back in New York.
Lin, who took the basketball world by storm during last season’s “Linsanity,” scored 22 points and had eight assists on Monday night as Houston handed the Knicks their first loss of the season at home.
The sellout crowd at the Garden gave Lin a loud ovation during the pre-game introductions.
“It was a lot of fun playing out there,” said Lin, who heard some boos once the game started. “I think our team took a step in the right direction. For me, it was great to be back and it was a lot of fun to play on that court again.”
James Harden scored a team-high 28 points and grabbed 10 boards for the Rockets, who snapped a seven-game road losing streak.
It was the second time this year the Rockets beat the Knicks, who were unable to keep pace on Monday. The Rockets outscored the Knicks 54-29 over the second and third quarters.
Chris Copeland notched a career-best 29 points for the Knicks, who had a 12-game unbeaten streak at home dating back to last season.
Copeland, who was starting in place of injured Carmelo Anthony, scored all of his points in the second half.
“It’s one bright spot,” said Copeland. “But we lost and we have to go back to the drawing board and figure out exactly what we didn’t do right.”
Lin is one of the few Asian Americans in NBA history, and the first American of Taiwanese descent to play in the league.
The talented point guard and Harvard University graduate parleyed his success last season with the Knicks into a generous free agent contract with Houston.
“It was fine,” Lin said of the reaction from the Knicks fans’ Monday. “I had fun. A lot of people showed up and supported me and wore my old jersey. It was a lot better than I thought.”
The Los Angeles-born Lin averaged 2.6 points per game before joining New York, then exploded in the winter of 2012. Between February 4 and February 22, Lin averaged 23.9 points per game, sparking the “Linsanity” phenomenon.
He became the toast of the basketball world, appearing on the cover of “Sports Illustrated” in consecutive weeks. The only other NBA players to do that are Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Jordan.
Lin was named in Time magazine’s 2012 list of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.”
He was also the second-most Googled person of 2012, behind Whitney Houston, and his jersey was the second-highest selling in the NBA.
The Knicks failed to match Lin’s contract offer from the Rockets for about $25 million over three years.
Knicks star Anthony called the offer “ridiculous.”
“It’s not up to me,” Anthony told Newsday. “It’s up to the organization to say that they want to match that ridiculous contract.”
New York could have matched the offer for Lin, but the team had other plans.
They boasted an impressive 18-5 record heading into Monday’s game, but that didn’t intimidate Lin, who apparently wanted to show management and Anthony that they had made a mistake by letting him go.
The Rockets headed into Madison Square Garden with a respectable record of 11-12 but they have had a trying year.
They had to deal with the death of head coach Kevin McHale’s 23-year-old daughter Sasha, and first-round pick Royce White is being treated for an anxiety disorder.
It hasn’t been an easy year for Lin either. He excelled under former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, who used an up-tempo, point guard-based system. Under McHale, Lin’s numbers are down.
Heading into Monday’s game, Lin was averaging just 10.8 points and 6.0 assists this season.
Until Monday night, Lin’s best performance was against the San Antonio Spurs last Monday, when he scored 38 points and had seven assists in a losing cause.
Despite the slow start, Lin is third in Western Conference guard All-Star voting behind Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. The game is in Houston this year.


World Cup live: Portugal 1 Morocco 0

Updated 3 min 54 sec ago
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World Cup live: Portugal 1 Morocco 0

  • Cristiano Ronaldo heads in an early goal

4.50pm: "Portugal are just hanging on," said BBC Sport's Martin Keown. "They are like a boxer on the ropes."

4.46pm: Mehdi Carcela is on for Morocco as Herve Renard makes change No. 2. He represented Belgium at youth level but switched his allegiance to Morocco. He is one of 17 foreign-born players in the Morocco squad.

4.44pm: The battle between Noureddine Amrabat and Portugal's Raphael Guerreiro has been one of the features of the match. Amrabat has got the better of his man, but Portugal still lead.

4.30pm: Herve Renard has made the change and brought on Ayoub El-Kaabi. He got nine goals at the African Nations Championship in February. How Morocco could do with one from him here.

4.29pm

4.20pm: Morocco have edged ahead on the possesion stakes, 51 to 49, but they need to start to make that count otherwise they are heading out of the tournament.

4.16pm: SAVE! What a save that was from Patricio to prevent Younes Belhanda from finding the bottom corner with a header. that's as close as Morocco have come.

4.11pm: How long before Herve Renard sends for striker Ayoub El-Kaabi from the bench? He has 11 goals for his country and is the top-scorer in the squad. Morocco need one badly here.

4.07pm: Ronaldo may have scored the only goal but he had the third fewest touches in the first half. Only Mehdi Benatia (21) and Goncalo Guedes (19) had fewer.

4.05pm: We're back underway at the Luzhniki Stadium and Morocco need to score and avoid defeat otherwise they are out of the World Cup.

4.02pm: Random fact but Ronaldo has five hotels in Marrakech. He was certainly made to feel welcome by the Moroccons from that fifth-minute corner.

3.50pm: 37 percent of goals at this World Cup have been scored from set-pieces. 

3.46pm: "I think Morocco have dominated the ball," says BBC Sport's Kevin Kilbane. "Portugal have been dreadful."

3.45pm: It's half-time in Moscow and Portugal lead thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's fourth-minute header. 

3.42pm: Morocco's Mehdi Benatia is the first player to be booked. He is shown a yellow card for clattering into Cristiano Ronaldo.

3.37pm: Morocco are having a good go here. They've had 49 percent of the possesion and registered six shots to Portugal's four.

3.31pm

3.30pm: "There are worse teams than Morocco at the World Cup," said BBC Sport's Terry Butcher. "They may be 1-0 down and heading out of the World Cup, but there is plenty of confidence out there."

3.27pm

3.25pm: "Morocco should be pleased with how they have responded," said BBC Sport's Martin Keown. "They have not done an awful loy wrong apart from conceding that goal,"

3.21pm: Marking Ronaldo is a two-man job. Here Achraf Hakimi and Manuel Da Costa keep tabs on the Real Madrid superstar.

3.19pm: Goals are a big problem for Morocco. The only player who has more than ten international goals to his name is Ayoub El-Kaabi and he's on the bench.

3.15pm: "Morocco have got good variation from their corners," says BBC Sport's Martin Keown. 

3.12pm: Not content with scoring 44 goals in 44 games for Real Madrid this season, Ronaldo now has four in two World Cup games. He is a machine. 

3.08pm: "That is appalling marking by Morocco," said BBC Sport's Martin Keown. "You just can't give Ronaldo that amount of room."

3.06pm: GOAL. And it's Cristiano Ronaldo, who else? He steals a march from a corner and powers in a header. Worst possible start for Morocco.

3.04pm: A real positive start from Morocco. "What a start that was with 12-13 passes from Morocco," said BBC Sport pundit Terry Butcher. "Wonderful play. It all started with a ball up to Cristiano Ronaldo, who just shrugged his shoulders."

2.59pm: The size of the task facing Morocco this afternoon is demonstrated by the fact that Ronaldo has scored 33 goals in his last 23 games for club and country and has only failed to score in five of those games.

2.52pm: "The Moroccan fans are taking their seats and are already making a significant amount of noise," reports BBC Sport's Gary Flintoff. "They are dotted throughout the stadium, but there are thousands of them grouped together behind one of the goals."

2.45pm. "Ziyech is their playmaker and he's been instrumental at Ajax," said BBC Sport's Jermaine Jenas. "Technically, he's the one they need to be going through. He's got an eye for a pass and can glide past people. There are a lot of clubs looking at him. Morocco desperately need him today if they are to get anything out of the game."

2.42pm: Mexico '86 seems a long time but that is when these two last met at the World Cup. The Atlas Lions won that one 3-1. 

2.41pm: Cristiano Ronaldo needs just one goal to move outright second in the list of all-time international scorers.

2.39pm: Morocco's Mbark Boussoufa in the zone before the match at the Luzniki Stadium.

 

 

2.38pm: "It will be a different gamplan from Morocco," said BBC Sport's Kevin Kilbane. "They are going to have to play on the back foot."

2.35pm: "This Morocco side will feel they need to come out and produce a performance after their opening defeat," said BBC Sport's Jermaine Jenas. 

2.32pm: Morocco are chasing their first World Cup win since they beat Scotland 3-0 in France. Salaheddine Bassir (2) and Abdeljalil Hadda got the goals that day.

2.29pm: Cristiano Ronaldo is again partnered in attack by Goncalo Guedes, despite the Valencia forward's unimpressive form in a 3-3 draw with Spain. Joao Mario starts in midfield replacing Bruno Fernandes. 

2.28pm: Morocco coach Herve Renard has made three changes, with forward Khalid Boutaib replacing Ayoub El Kaabi, Manuel Da Costa coming in for Romain Saiss in central defense, and defender Nabil Dirar replacing winger Amine Harit.

2.14pm: Morocco need to bounce back from their agonising defeat against Iran but Portugal, and Ronaldo in particular, pose Herve Renard's men a monumental challenge at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.
"We lost a battle but we haven't lost the war. We're not dead," said midfielder Faycal Fajr, one of 17 foreign-born players in Morocco's squad.

2.10pm: The surprise team news is that Nordin Amrabat has been passed fit for Morocco. He came off following a head injury against Iran and the feeling was he would not pass the concussion protocol.

2.09pm

It has not been the best World Cup so far for the Arab nations. Saudi Arabia were thrashed by Russia, Egypt lost late on to Uruguay, Morocco were floored by a sucker punch from Iran and then Egypt were beaten again, this time by Russia. But now Morocco have the chance to make up for that by pulling off the shock of all shocks against European champions Portugal. A win would go down as one of the biggest in their history and resuscitate their hopes of getting out of Group B. And you can follow our live coverage of the game at the Luzhniki Stadium right here, so stay tuned for our insight and opinion on events in Moscow.