It was an all too familiar sight for the Knicks and their fans Thursday night. The visiting team was getting open shots and wide-open lanes to the basket and Jeremy Lin was taking over in the fourth quarter.
Once upon a time, Lin did that for the Knicks. Once upon a time, the Knicks also defended and protected their homecourt.
But the Knicks lost for the fourth straight time at the Garden, falling, 109-106, to the Rockets and spoiling a season-high 45-point night by Carmelo Anthony.
"Real tough one, tough one to lose, especially with the effort that we put forth," Anthony said. "We've just got to get over this hump here at home, figure it out, move on. I'm lost for words right now. Everything is kind of like a little blur to me. Another one bites the dust."
The Knicks (3-5) were embarrassed Sunday in their previous home game, losing by 31 points to the Spurs. They had their usual first-half problems and fell behind Houston by 14, but they battled back from nine down with under four minutes remaining to make it a one-possession game late.
Trailing 107-104, Anthony had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds. But James Harden fouled him as soon as he got the ball.
Anthony threw up a shot when he heard the whistle and his three-pointer went in. Anthony, the Knicks and their fans wanted continuation. But official Scott Foster ruled the foul was on the floor and awarded Anthony two free throws.
Mike Woodson was up screaming, asking the officials to review it. But Foster told a pool reporter the initial foul was when Anthony had his back to the basket, and continuation is not a reviewable play.
"My thoughts don't mean anything at this point in time," Anthony said. "It really doesn't matter right now for me to say whether I thought it was a good call or not. So therefore, we move on from there."
But Anthony admitted being frustrated by the whistles. The Rockets took 44 foul shots -- 18 by Harden -- and the Knicks 27. Anthony attempted 11.
"You look at that and you see the way that some guys get their calls. Me, I got to get cut, you've got to see blood for me to get a call down there," Anthony said. "So that's where the frustration comes from."
Anthony made both free throws with 5 seconds left -- he meant to miss the second -- and brought the Knicks within 107-106. Harden was fouled with 2.9 seconds to go and made both free throws for the final points. J.R. Smith's long heave just before time expired hit the backboard.
"We've let four games in a row at home get away," Woodson said. "That's something we haven't done since I've been here. That's kind of frustrating."
Anthony had his best offensive game of the season. He shot 17-for-30 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Andrea Bargnani also had a strong game, outplaying All-Star Dwight Howard. Bargnani scored 24 points and played Howard tough defensively.
Harden led the Rockets with 36 points. Chandler Parsons added 22 and Lin 21. Howard had seven points and 15 rebounds.
With the Knicks down 104-100, Anthony hit two foul shots with 1:39 left. But then he made a mistake by intentionally fouling Howard away from the ball. With under two minutes left, it's one shot and the ball. Harden hit the foul shot. Then Howard, fouled inside, made both free throws to make it 107-102 with 1:15 left.
"That was a bonehead play on my behalf," Anthony said.