HOUSTON -- Of all the sensational moments "Linsanity" wrought, Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin could not recall a shot quite like the one he hit in the waning moments of the second overtime Monday night.
Lin had attacked the rim with impunity throughout against the Toronto Raptors, but his contorting, daring drive with 33.4 seconds left was something out of central casting, an effort that highlighted the Rockets' 110-104 double-overtime victory over the Raptors at Toyota Center.
"That lefty shot that I hit at the end, I don't think that I've ever done that in my life beside working on it in workouts," said Lin, whose 31 points off the bench were the most by a Houston reserve since forward Chase Budinger tallied 30 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Feb. 23, 2011. "Never in a game. I was definitely in a zone to be able to attack and make plays."
With Lin carrying them through lengthy stretches of the second half, the Rockets (5-3) snapped a modest but troublesome two-game skid. Guard James Harden added 26 points and 10 assists while center/forward Dwight Howard totaled 18 points, 24 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Toronto, despite an offensive slog that produced just 10 assists on 114 shot attempts, did not relent. After Lin converted a driving layup for an 80-66 lead with 8:32 left in the fourth quarter, the Raptors responded with a 14-2 run. With 2:24 left, guard Terrence Ross' tip-in pulled Toronto even at 84 and, with 40 seconds left, power forward Amir Johnson gave Toronto its first lead since 15-13 with yet another tip-in.
But Harden tied the game with a free throw at the 34.3-second mark, and Raptors small forward Rudy Gay and Harden followed by badly missing jumpers during the final moments of regulation. Gay drilled an improbable 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left to force the second overtime.
Gay had been 9-for-30 before his game-tying jumper. Given his horrific shooting performance, the Rockets elected not to foul for free throws.
"Wasn't like those guys were making a lot of shots," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "But then he nailed it and I thought, 'Oh, boy. Isn't that the way it goes?'"
"We had to give the ball to Rudy because he had it going and DeMar had struggled," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "Rudy was the only one that had something rolling with the rhythm. It was one of those nights."
Howard paired 17 points with 11 rebounds and added three blocks while powering Houston to a 47-33 halftime lead. But the Raptors silenced Howard in the second half, and with Harden slowed by an ailing left foot, Lin sprang into action, scoring 10 points in the third by making both of his shots from the floor and five of his six free throws.
Lin struggled with turnovers while carrying the load, but his shooting and aggressiveness paid dividends, including a stretch in which he scored 10 of 12 points for Houston after Toronto closed to within 10.
"He is a good player and an alpha scorer, and he made some tough shots, some big 3s, and he got it going," Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. "Once he got it going, he's one of those guys you have to make uncomfortable."
NOTES: The Rockets are under siege from the flu bug, but G/F Francisco Garcia was the lone regular sidelined against Toronto. ... Raptors F Steve Novak was inactive due to a sore back. ... With Raptors G D.J. Augustin struggling to provide productivity in his reserve role, Toronto coach Dwane Casey acknowledged that starting G Kyle Lowry could see an uptick in minutes until the rotation behind him is sorted. "Dwight Buycks is going to get an opportunity, Julyan (Stone) is getting an opportunity, all three guys until we see which one is going to emerge," Casey said. ... Rockets coach Kevin McHale expressed disappointment in his team's rebounding despite the fact that Houston began the night ranked third in the league on the glass and C Omer Asik and PF Dwight Howard were averaging 14 rebounds apiece. "I'm surprised we're not rebounding well. I thought that would be one of our strengths," McHale said.