Back in Houston, Lin Already Feels at Home

“We wouldn’t be getting a Christmas game if it wasn’t for Jeremy Lin,” guard Shaun Livingston said as the Rockets held media day on Monday to open their training camp. Livingston is right. Aside from Lin, the 2012-13 Rockets’ roster is rather bland as well as young. Eleven of the 20 players are rookies or second-year players. In that sense, the 24-year-old Lin, a 6-foot-3-inch point guard with all of 64 games of N.B.A. experience, fits right in. And his teammates seemed to enjoy talking, and joking, about him.

“I can’t wait until I’m watching ESPN and I see a highlight of Jeremy Lin passing me the ball and I hit a shot and they say, ‘Jeremy Lin to Jeremy Lamb,’ ” said Lamb, a rookie out of Connecticut. “Or the other way around when I pass it to him, because he’s a great shooter.”

In 35 games (25 starts) with the last season, Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists a game. More than that, he became a national phenomenon, the Lin in Linsanity, which, in the end, did not last all that long because, over the summer, the Knicks did not match the Rockets’ free-agent contract offer.

So now Lin is in Houston, where he seemed at home as he talked to reporters. “I had a lot of fun last year, and I’m having a lot of fun now,” he said.

“For me, I see this as just the beginning. I’ve played only 64 games. I’m very young and learning.”

In a sense, the Rockets are learning, too, as they try to determine how best to use their new star.

“We’ve got to figure out what he does really well and get more of that, and what he doesn’t do well, we’ll have other people do that,” said Kevin McHale, the Rockets’ coach.

This is actually Lin’s second stint with the Rockets. Last December, he was in Houston’s training camp for 12 days as the N.B.A. prepared for a lockout-delayed start to the season. The Knicks then claimed him off waivers on Dec. 27.

Lin said his discussions with the Rockets this past summer, as they successfully recruited him away from the Knicks, gave him some idea of what to expect from McHale.

As to what to expect from other N.B.A. players, who may think he has not really earned the fame and fortune he has quickly built, Lin seemed unconcerned.

“It’s out of my control,” Lin said. “I’m going to play the same whether there’s a target on my back or not.”

Then there are his teammates, who do not seem jealous at all.

“Everything he got last year he never asked for,” forward Chandler Parsons said.

“The way he carries himself, I have the upmost respect for him, and the guys embrace that and respect that and want to be around it. I love that he’s in Houston.”

Shooting guard Kevin Martin added, “He’s the guy I’m looking at to relieve a lot of pressure off me.”

Lin said he thought playing with the Rockets again would be fun “because we’re talented.”

“And I’ve been playing with the guys in the off-season,” he said. “They’re definitely talented.”

New York already seems to be fading into the distance.

Knicks Coach Not Counting on Lin for Game 5

Mike Woodson isn’t expecting it.

The interim coach said Monday he wasn’t counting on Jeremy Lin to play Wednesday when his short-handed Knicks visit Miami for Game 5 of their first-round playoff series.

“I’m going at this as if he’s not going to play. That’s how it’s been here for the last month, month and a half, and that’s how I’m preparing,” Woodson said during a conference call.

Woodson also knows Baron Davis won’t be available after the veteran guard tore ligaments in his right knee.

Lin became the biggest story in the NBA in February when he went from undrafted benchwarmer out of Harvard to starring point guard who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated two weeks in a row. A quicker-than-expected return from knee surgery would be heavily hyped with the Knicks down two point guards and facing elimination against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat. But Lin just may not be ready to attempt it.

“I’ve watched him shoot and run up and down. He’s not in great shape and you know as well as I know that playoff basketball, you’ve got to be at an all-time high, and he hasn’t played in a while,” Woodson said. “So I don’t know if that’s going to be a determining factor with the doctors, and the fact that he hasn’t played. I can say, yes, he looks good, but again, does he feel good? Do the doctors think it’s enough time based on the injury that he’s had to get him out on the floor? I can’t make that decision.”

Davis and Iman Shumpert have been lost to knee injuries during this series, leaving only 33-year-old Mike Bibby and seldom-used Toney Douglas at the point guard spot. Lin is close, but Woodson said that only the player and the team’s medical staff would determine when he can get back on the court.

“Again, I’d love to have Jeremy out there on the floor in uniform,” Woodson said. “Don’t get me wrong, guys. Jeremy is a big piece of our team. But if the doctors say, ‘Mike, we’re taking a chance; he shouldn’t be out there playing,’ I can’t be that selfish and say, ‘Son, put on a uniform and play.’ I mean, I just can’t do that.”

Lin has been playing in 3-on-3 workouts after surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee April 2. The Knicks said at the time he was expected to miss six weeks, meaning his season was likely over unless they reached the second round.

He was going to work out again Monday, and the Knicks will practice Tuesday. Woodson said he would prefer to see Lin go through an entire practice with full contact before seeing him in a game against one of the NBA’s fiercest defenses. But there’s just no time for that.

“So I am a little apprehensive about him possibly coming back. But again, if he comes to me and says, ‘Coach, I want to play,’ and the doctors say it’s all right for him to play — they might put a minute time where he can only play so many minutes. I don’t know,” Woodson said.

The Heat harassed Lin into eight turnovers and 1-for-11 shooting in a Feb. 23 victory in Miami, so they’ll be ready if Lin is.

“Well, we’ve seen him before,” forward Chris Bosh said. “And we just have to take the challenge. We’re going to challenge him. He hasn’t played in a while. It’s tough to come back in the playoffs. If he does come back, we’ll have a game plan specific for him and just challenge him and just compete.”

Woodson said he was confident in Bibby, his former point guard in Atlanta who made a key 3-pointer with 1:23 left Sunday. And he said he would not push Lin to come back if the player is unsure, even if it gave him a better chance at a victory as he tries to secure his return for next season.

“When you’re dealing with professional athletes, I would never put a player in that position and tell him that I think he should play,” Woodson said. “Especially after you’ve had an injury, because it’s just not my place to do that.”

Davis tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee and also has a partial tear of the patellar tendon. He will undergo surgery later this week and likely is out for a year.


AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.


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Mike Woodson Has Knicks Playing Effectively

Play Hard

Play Smart

Play Together

Have Fun

The same four lines had appeared for the past few years when was the coach, had been realized at the height of ’s emergence and had been discarded when returned from injury and J. R. Smith and Baron Davis joined the rotation.

But those four lines have been realized again in Mike Woodson’s first three games — all double-digit wins — as interim coach.

In a season defined by the unpredictable, these Knicks have responded unexpectedly. Instead of seeing Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire dominate the ball since D’Antoni resigned last week, fans have seen the scoring shared. Instead of being the end of Lin’s enchanted story, it is the start of another chapter.

Woodson’s stars are leading, but they are sharing the spotlight.

Anthony, who had grumbled about his role in D’Antoni’s offense, let Lin take over against the Pacers when the Knicks (21-24) were ahead by 3 points with eight minutes left in the game. Lin scored 8 points in a 9-1 run that built the Knicks’ final cushion. Instead of just waiting for the ball, Anthony cut to the basket and involved his teammates when he played at the point.

After scoring 16 points, Anthony said Woodson’s Knicks had “realized how serious it is right now,” with only 21 games left in the shortened season. Most of Anthony’s shots in the winning streak have come within the flow of the game, and he has taken fewer over all.

During the six-game losing streak that preceded the Knicks’ current winning streak, Anthony averaged 18 shots a game, hitting 38 percent, a little below his season average. But under Woodson, while playing in two blowouts and one close game that turned ugly late, Anthony has taken 12, 12 and 13 shots and has averaged two more assists per game, And the Knicks’ scoring has evened out: seven players have averaged double-digit points in the three games.

Woodson’s offense has included a few more post-up plays, Lin said Saturday. He added that he was “learning to play in a less spread offense.”

“A lot of stuff is the same, but there are times when I won’t have as many opportunities,” Lin said. “I just need to be selective about when to go. I think tonight was a big step for me.”

Going against the Pacers’ Darren Collison, Lin recorded 13 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists Friday, and then 19, 7 and 6 Saturday, with only five turnovers total in the two games.

But the Knicks’ turnaround did not start with Anthony or Lin; rather, the Knicks point to their defense. They limited a sleepy Portland team to 29 first-half points and twice held down a competent Pacers squad.

Woodson did not install a new tactical system, though.

“Defensively, the concepts have all been the same,” Lin said. “We haven’t changed anything. I just think we have all 15 guys on the same page, buying in.”

Stoudemire said Woodson simply challenged the team to pressure the ball, rebound and guard pick-and-rolls on defense, while “offensively, just play your game and have fun.”

“All this stuff we talked about beforehand, we’re starting to do now,” Stoudemire said.

Many of the Knicks liked D’Antoni and his system, but Woodson has proved to have a strong presence.

“He’s able to motivate us,” Anthony said. “He’s able to get the best out of everybody. We can lock in defensively, not have to worry about offense because now we’re relying on our defense to get our offense.”

ESPN reported last week that some of Anthony’s teammates were upset that D’Antoni had not forced him to play within the offense. But Woodson has said he will hold his best players accountable.

“I think he just stays on top of guys — throughout the game, in shootaround, in practices, before the game, here in halftime,” Tyson Chandler said of Woodson. “He just kind of keeps you on your toes.”