THE FACTS: After following an 8-1 start to the season with back-to-back losses in Texas, the New York Knicks suddenly do not look so hot. As far as their defense is concerned, coach Mike Woodson would consider that an understatement.
James Harden scored 16 of his team-high 33 points at the free-throw line and handed out nine assists, and Chandler Parsons netted a career-high 31 points on 13-for-17 shooting to go with four steals, as the Houston Rockets shredded the Knicks' defense with a scorching 51.7 percent shooting performance in a 131-103 rout Friday at Toyota Center.
Carmelo Anthony paced the Knicks (8-3) with 37 points on 14-for-24 shooting, while Raymond Felton added 17 points and eight assists.
In his first meeting with his former club, Houston's Jeremy Lin finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four turnovers. A highly anticipated matchup hardly lived up to its hype thanks in large part to New York's uninspired effort. For Lin and the Rockets (6-7), however, the blowout victory could provide a big boost to the team's morale moving forward.
QUOTABLE: "Today was a big step in the right direction in the way we want to play. ... The way we moved the ball on offense and spread the floor, that's something that we want to build off of." -- Lin.
THE STAT: Toyota Center has been a house of horrors for the Knicks in recent years. New York has dropped eight consecutive decisions in Houston by an average of 14.1 points. Only one of these eight losses has been decided by less than nine points.
TURNING POINT: The Knicks trailed 55-53 with less than five minutes to play in the first half when separate fouls on their top defensive presence and scorer, respectively, allowed the Rockets to create separation. Houston netted five of seven field-goal attempts and shot 6-for-6 at the free-throw line in the 4:32 that center Tyson Chandler was sitting on the bench with three fouls. Anthony made matters worse for New York when he committed his third foul on a touchy shove-off while attempting to drive past Marcus Morris. With Anthony's scoring and Chandler's veteran leadership absent, the Rockets finished the second quarter on a furious 17-4 run that pushed their lead to 72-57. The Knicks never recovered.
GOOD MOVE: The Rockets played an aggressive style that allowed them to increase the game's tempo, relentlessly attacking the rim and using quick hands and rotations to strip the ball and disrupt New York's half-court offense. In addition to forcing the Knicks to commit an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers, Houston compiled 44 points in the paint and 23 fast-break points in a little more than two and a half quarters.
QUOTABLE II: "I thought, going into tonight's game, we had an advantage in transition, and if we played defense the way we were capable of playing, we could get out and do what we do best." -- Parsons.
BAD MOVE: The Knicks' defense delivered an atrocious effort throughout the evening, but the moment that truly epitomized its lack of resistance came about midway through the third period. After Anthony clanked a jumper off the backboard, he was too busy complaining to a referee about a missed foul call to run the length of the floor and defend. That created a clear path for Patrick Patterson to please the raucous crowd with an authoritative dunk, which gave Houston its biggest lead of the contest at that point, 89-73.
QUOTABLE III: "They beat us in every way you can beat a team. ... Our effort on the ball guarding -- one-on-one positions -- was awful. It started in Dallas. ... This is unacceptable. We got the record that we had because we were defending ... and now we're just trying to outscore teams." -- Woodson.
HOT: Parsons got the Rockets' offense off to a roaring start, pouring in 18 points on 8-for-8 shooting in the first quarter. Anthony's aim in the opening stanza was also deadly, as the superstar forward drilled four of five 3-point attempts en route to an 18-point period. By halftime, Parsons had a new career high in scoring, and the pair of wing players had combined for 50 points on 20-for-26 shooting.
NOT: The Knicks, who entered Friday averaging the fewest turnovers in the NBA, allowed a season-worst 23 points off 16 giveaways. New York has averaged 15.0 turnovers over its last two games. Anthony has been the main culprit, committing 14 turnovers in this stretch.
NOTABLE: Lin cracked one of his front teeth when he dove for a loose ball during the closing seconds of the first half. ... Houston's Morris left the game in the first quarter after Anthony inadvertently struck a nerve in the back of his neck. He returned to action in the second period. ... New York forward Rasheed Wallace missed Friday's game with a sore left foot. He is listed as day-to-day. ... The Rockets played without reserves Carlos Delfino (strained groin) and Cole Aldrich (sprained right ankle). ... Houston netted a season-high 35 points in the opening quarter and matched the franchise record for most points scored at Toyota Center. ... Anthony has led the Knicks in scoring in 10 of 11 contests this season. ... The Rockets won for the first time this season when connecting on fewer 3-pointers than their opponent. ... New York's 39 3-point attempts set the record for most attempted by a Houston opponent.
UP NEXT: For the Knicks: Sunday vs. Detroit, Monday @ Brooklyn (TNT), Wednesday @ Milwaukee. For the Rockets: Tuesday vs. Toronto, Wednesday @ Oklahoma City (NBA TV), Saturday vs. Utah.