Rockets roll in Lin’s return to New York

TUESDAY, DEC. 18, 2012

NBA: Jeremy Lin returned Monday to the home he never thought he was leaving, reflecting fondly on Linsanity but not trying to recreate it.

Lin made his only trip this season to Madison Square Garden, where he went from scrub to sensation last February during a memorable stretch of basketball that made him a worldwide star, and boy did he make it count.

Lin had 22 points and eight assists in his return to New York, leading the Houston Rockets to a 109-96 victory that ended the New York Knicks’ 10-game home winning streak to open the season.

Lin added another masterpiece to the ones he put together last season during the height of Linsanity. No longer the fan favorite he was when wearing the home uniform, Lin got a mixed reception when he left the game with 2:25 remaining and the Rockets leading by 16.

Rookie Chris Copeland scored a career-high 29 points for the Knicks, who played without leading scorer Carmelo Anthony and had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Lin admitted it was “a little weird” to return as a visitor.

• Thunder stay atop West, thump Spurs: Serge Ibaka tied his career-best with 25 points and grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the visiting San Antonio Spurs 107-93 to maintain sole possession of the best record in the NBA.

The Thunder took control with a string of 11 straight points during the third quarter, punctuated by Nick Collison’s putback that made it 71-56 with 4:27 remaining in the period. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich kept his starters parked on the bench throughout the fourth quarter, even as San Antonio cut an 18-point lead in half with about 5 1/2 minutes left.

• Crawford carries Clippers: Jamal Crawford scored 15 points and Chris Paul added 14 to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to their 10th straight win, 88-76 over the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Blake Griffin had 15 points for Los Angeles, which had five players in double figures. Griffin had two breakaway dunks in the last 30 seconds, one on a pass banked off the backboard by Crawford.

Brandon Knight led the Pistons with 16 points .

• Davis scores 28, leads Magic to win: Glen Davis scored 28 points and J.J. Redick had 18 points and seven assists as the Orlando Magic beat the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves 102-93.

Minnesota led 87-85 with six minutes left when Orlando’s Arron Afflalo hit a 3-pointer to start a 9-0 run for Orlando.

Duke now No. 1 in AP after Indiana loss

Men’s College Basketball: Duke is back in a familiar place – No. 1.

The Blue Devils (9-0) advanced one spot to replace Indiana at the top of the Associated Press Top 25, drawing closer to UCLA’s record for most No. 1 rankings.

Indiana (9-1) held the top spot from the preseason poll through the first five weeks. Butler beat the Hoosiers 88-86 in overtime on Saturday.

It is the 123rd week Duke has been ranked No. 1, 11 weeks behind UCLA’s record.

Michigan (11-0), which received the other No. 1 votes, and Syracuse moved up one place each to second and third. Gonzaga stayed put at No. 14.

• UNLV beats UTEP: Anthony Marshall scored 13 points and Bryce DeJean-Jones added 12 for No. 21 UNLV in a 62-60 victory over UTEP in El Paso, Texas.

Jaques Streeter scored with 27 seconds left to cut UNLV’s lead to two points. DeJean-Jones had an opportunity to make it a two-possession game but missed two free throws with 15 seconds left.

Konner Tucker had a last-second opportunity for the Miners after taking an inbounds pass from the far sideline for a 3-point attempt that bounced off the rim.

• Notre Dame tops IPFW: Pat Connaughton scored 18 points to lead No. 22 Notre Dame to a 74-62 victory over IPFW in South Bend, Ind.

Connaughton more than doubled his 7.9 points-per- game average and added six rebounds and five assists.

Luis Jacobo and Joe Edwards both scored 11 points for the Mastodons (5-7).

IPFW shot 36 percent from the field while the Irish made 52 percent.

Stanford remins top women’s team

Women’s college basketball: Stanford remains No. 1 in the Associated Press women’s poll for the fifth straight week.

The Cardinal had 22 first-place votes, while Connecticut received 16. Baylor got the other two.

UConn, Baylor, Duke and Notre Dame round out the first five.

• Boyd, Cal edge Northwestern: Brittany Boyd and Talia Caldwell helped No. 8 California overcome a noisy gym and some lousy shooting.

Boyd scored 18 points and Caldwell added 16 to help beat Northwestern 71-65 in Evanston, Ill..

Gennifer Brandon’s three-point play with 3:04 left put Cal (8-1) ahead for good. The Golden Bears made 26 of 64 (39.1 percent) from the field.

Player kicked from team over tweet

Miscellany: The University of North Alabama says a walk-on football player is off the team after sending a racist tweet about President Barack Obama.

The university said coaches made the move after Bradley Patterson described Obama with a racial slur while complaining that the president’s speech about the Connecticut school massacre pre-empted an NFL game Sunday night.

• Giants, Casilla agree: Right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla and the San Francisco Giants have agreed to a $15 million, three-year contract.

Casilla went 7-6 with a 2.84 ERA and 25 saves in 73 appearances covering 63 1/3 innings last season.

• Vonn heading home for break: Lindsey Vonn is heading back to the United States for an unexpected break in the middle of the World Cup ski season and is unlikely to return to Europe until January.

U.S. women’s coach Alex Hoedlmoser told the Associated Press that Vonn’s heavy schedule has not allowed the four-time overall World Cup winner to recover from the intestinal illness that landed her in a hospital last month.

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