Winner: Houston Rockets (12-12)
Monday night’s 13-point win over the Knicks puts the Rockets back at .500 at 12-12.
Loser: New York Knicks (18-6)
The Knicks were clearly missing some of their biggest pieces and played sloppy for the majority of the contest.
They fell apart hard in the second quarter, allowing a 16-3 Houston run after missing 19 of the 23 shots they took en route to their lowest scoring quarter of the season (11 points).
Now, not only have the Knicks snapped their four-game winning streak and ruined their clean sheet at home, but they have now inexplicably dropped seven straight games–and 15 of their last 16–to the Rockets, dating back to 2005.
Winner: Jeremy Lin
Houston’s point guard admitted that he was not sure how the New York fans would react to his return to Madison Square Garden. Luckily for him, there was still a decent amount of appreciation left.
It certainly was not the reception he received during Linsanity’s peak, but a good amount of the Knicks faithful gave Lin a standing ovation upon his introduction before the game.
Following a strong first half and a flagrant foul at the hands of Tyson Chandler, Lin started to receive a good amount of boos every time he touched the ball. Luckily for him, his 22 points let him walk away with the last laugh.
Loser: Senior citizens
The Knicks have been down by 20 points only three times this season, twice at the hands of the Rockets.
Despite their uneven records, Houston just seems to have New York’s number, and a reason for that may in fact be the mismatch in age. The Knicks-Rockets contest was also the pitting of the oldest team in the NBA against the youngest.
Winner: Amar’e Stoudemire
The injured forward has finally been cleared to practice after missing all of the season so far recovering from knee surgery.
Stoudemire will work out with the Knicks’ NBA Development League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks, for the remainder of the week. As of today, the Knicks have not yet ruled out a Friday return for Amar’e for when the Bulls come into town.
Stoudemire averaged 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season in 47 games.
Loser: Carmelo Anthony
For the second straight game, Anthony rode the pine as his sprained left ankle continues to heal.
Anthony freely admitted to Coach Mike Woodson that he was not at full capacity for Monday night’s game, but there’s no doubt he’s already aching to get back to working on his MVP campaign (with added pain upon his former replacement Jeremy Lin’s return to town).
Winner: James Harden
The bearded wonder was scoring at will Monday night.
No matter how they defended him, the Knicks couldn’t stop Harden, who finished the night with 28 points. More importantly though, Harden scored whenever the Rockets needed it most, hitting a few three-pointers that crushed any streak the Knicks tried to put together.
Loser: Knicks guards
Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and J.R. Smith all put up decent numbers when the game was all said and done, but their sloppy play and turnovers was what really cost the Knicks whenever they tried to get a run going.
Winner: Chris Copeland
Starting in his just his second career game, the 28-year-old rookie looked pretty solid in place of Anthony.
His nine consecutive points in the third quarter helped shrink the Rockets' lead to just five, putting New York back in the game for a short while. But more Knicks turnovers and Harden’s hot hand helped the Rockets pull away again pretty quickly, spoiling Copeland's impressive 29-point performance.
Loser: Omer Asik
A little nitpicky here, but the Turkish center was rather unremarkable Monday night, putting up only six points and some mediocre defensive numbers.
Luckily for Asik and the rest of the Rockets, he did not need to be remarkable Monday night.
Winner: Knicks skeptics
One of the main worries this season has been whether or not the return of Stoudemire to the lineup will be a bane or a boon to the Knicks' season.
Although Monday night’s game was not able to prove or disprove this worry specifically, it was certainly an example that this Knicks team may have some transition issues, losing bad without Anthony in the lineup Monday after just scraping by the Cavaliers Saturday.
Loser: Rockets skeptics
The worry about the compatibility of Lin and Harden in the backcourt moving forward could be cause for some serious concern moving forward for Houston. But that was nowhere to be seen Monday night, as the guards combined for 50 points and 11 assists Monday night.