HOUSTON -- Jeremy Lin got to the basket with the ease and flair he showed last season as a Knick. Carmelo Anthony also had some moments that reminded you of last season, but when Mike D'Antoni was the coach.
The Knicks looked a little like D'Antoni's Knicks the way they defended and relied on Anthony to carry them Friday night. They were humiliated by Lin and the Rockets, 131-103, at the Toyota Center, dropping two in a row for the first time this season.
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"This was unacceptable,'' Mike Woodson said. "Awful, awful performance."
The Knicks' defense -- the best in the NBA the first nine games -- has been nonexistent the past two. They've allowed 245 points in the last two games and 196 in the last six quarters.
The Knicks (8-3) gave up 72 points to Houston -- in the first half -- let James Harden score 33 and Chandler Parsons a career-high 31, and were outrebounded 48-30. Lin had 13 points. Said Anthony, "Tonight was a good old-fashioned [butt]-whipping."
Anthony was the Knicks' offense and looked for his shot all night as a result. He had 37 points and shot 14-for-24. But he got frustrated by what he felt was an unfavorable whistle (he took two free throws) and let the referees know it throughout the game.
After one trip in which he thought he was fouled, Anthony screamed at the referee while running back and didn't see Patrick Patterson streaking downcourt for a fast-break dunk. It came during a 21-7 third-quarter Houston run that put the Knicks in a 104-80 hole.
"It gets frustrating out there," Anthony said. "You do your best to try and do your best, get fouled, go to the hole, create something. It don't happen. That gets frustrating. And then you go down to the other end of the court and something does happen. That's always the frustration when that sets in.
"Maybe I got to do a better job of not getting so frustrated and just accept the fact that this is the way it's going to be."
This was the first time Lin faced the Knicks since they decided not to match Houston's three-year, $25.1-million offer for him. Before tip-off, Lin hugged Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton and went to the Knicks' bench to shake hands with Mike Woodson. Then he had his best game in weeks.
Lin shot 6-for-12 (the first time he shot 50 percent in eight games) and had seven rebounds and three assists, one on a three-pointer by former Knick Toney Douglas to end the third quarter. Lin also chipped a tooth while diving for a loose ball.
"I'm not looking to recreate what happened in New York," Lin said. "I want to be a consistent player, I want to get better. I don't know what my potential is and I don't know if I could play any better than I did during that one-week stretch, but we'll find out and see how close I can get."
The Knicks, who were without Rasheed Wallace (sore left foot), decided that playing defense was optional against all the Rockets. Parsons started 8-for-8 and finished 13-for-17. Harden was 16-for-16 from the line, and the two totaled 51 points in the first half. Omer Asik had 18 points and 14 rebounds.
"We weren't really focused on Lin," Jason Kidd said. "We were more focused on the two guys that got going, and that's Harden and Parsons. We felt that those two guys have been playing at a high level and when they play well they win, and not the other way around."
Trailing by 10 with just under eight minutes left in the third, the Knicks gave up 13 unanswered points and fell behind 96-73 with 4:39 left. The deficit ballooned to 24 by the end of the third.
Said Chandler, "Early in the year, we were making things tough, and now we're letting guys off way too easy. They kicked our butts for four quarters."