Linsanity will continue in Houston, Texas

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Linsanity will continue in Houston, Texas

From Comcast SportsNet
HOUSTON (AP) -- The New York Knicks decided that Linsanity would have only a one-season run on Broadway. Lin is headed back to Houston after the Knicks decided on Tuesday that they wouldn't match the Rockets' three-year, 25 million offer for the restricted free agent. The 23-year-old point guard, who went undrafted out of Harvard, became an international phenomenon and the biggest story in sports during one dazzling month in the Big Apple. But the Knicks decided keeping the show in town was too costly. "Extremely excited and honored to be a Houston Rocket again!!" Lin posted on his Twitter account. "Much love and thankfulness to the Knicks and New York for your support the past year...easily the best year of my life." Lin will return to Houston, where he spent two weeks in training camp in December, before the Rockets waived him. General manager Daryl Morey later regretted the move and alluded to the mistake as he celebrated the re-acquisition of Lin on Twitter late Tuesday: "Welcome to Houston (at)JLin7. We plan to hang on this time. You will love (hash)RedNation." The Knicks said they would match any offer to retain Lin, but the Rockets made it tough for New York to keep him by backloading their offer sheet with a 15 million salary in the third season of the deal. If the Knicks agreed to match, they would have faced a hefty luxury tax in the 2014-15 season because of other big contracts on their books -- between 30-40 million. One sports consultant said the adjustment to the offer sheet was a stroke of genius by Morey. "The Rockets deserve a lot of credit for the way they've gone about this," said Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based SportsCorp. "It was extremely intelligent -- with an assassin's touch." Houston initially released Lin because it already had Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry on the roster. The Knicks picked him up, and coach Mike D'Antoni put him in the lineup out of desperation, with the Knicks floundering at 8-15. Lin scored a career-high 25 points in a 99-92 win over the New Jersey Nets, and "Linsanity" was born in the bright lights of New York. The stock price for Madison Square Garden Inc. surged as Lin proved to be more than a one-game wonder. He made the Sports Illustrated cover in consecutive weeks, only the 12th athlete to hold that distinction since 1990. On Tuesday, Lin had more than 829,000 followers on Twitter. The more opponents saw Lin, though, the more they seemed to figure him out as the season wore on. He went 1 for 11 with eight turnovers in a humbling, nationally televised loss in Miami, and the Knicks dropped their first six games in March. D'Antoni resigned in mid-March and Lin hurt his left knee less than two weeks later. The Knicks revealed on April 1 that Lin needed surgery to repair a meniscus tear and would miss six weeks. The Knicks made the playoffs behind surging Carmelo Anthony, but bowed out to Miami in the first round. The Rockets, meanwhile, missed the postseason for the third straight year and have spent the offseason completely rebuilding their roster. Houston has been trying to put together a package of assets and draft picks to offer Orlando in exchange for disgruntled All-Star center Dwight Howard. In the process, the Rockets lost the unrestricted free agent Dragic to Phoenix, then traded Lowry to Toronto for a first-round pick with lottery protection. With no true point guard left, the Rockets turned back to Lin. The Knicks showed their hand when they brought back Raymond Felton in a sign-and-trade deal with Portland -- after signing Jason Kidd as a free agent. Houston, meanwhile, jumped at the chance to reacquire their popularity in China, where Yao Ming became a larger-than-life figure. Many Rockets landed lucrative shoe contracts with Chinese companies on Yao's coattails, and Rockets' games drew massive television ratings there. David Schwab, who specializes in matching brands with celebrities as managing director at Octagon First Call, said that while Lin is an American success story, he will reopen marketing in-roads for Houston during Yao's eight seasons (2002-11). "Teams base their decisions on wins and losses, because wins and losses ultimately affect ticket sales, sponsorships," Schwab said. "I still think it's a win-loss decision, but I think, in their case, it's weighed more as a marketing decision. They've got more to gain right now, with a decade of Yao and companies they've done business with. They've got kind of the next frontier there."

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Wizards players complain about referees after loss to Utah Jazz: 'No-name guys are getting calls'

Wizards players complain about referees after loss to Utah Jazz: 'No-name guys are getting calls'

The Wizards' loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday featured a significant difference in free throw attempts between the teams, so drastic that several Wizards players spoke at length about what they felt was a major slight by the officiating crew.

At halftime, the Wizards had just one free throw attempt compared to 18 for the Jazz. By the end of the game, Utah held a 32-13 advantage and that was even after some makeup calls at the end, according to Wizards point guard John Wall.

"We were being physical and we were competing. We attacked the basket just as much as them. You look at some of the calls they got and some of the calls we should have got," he said. "Near the end of the game refs always try to make up for what they missed. But you can't make up for [18] to one free throws in the first half."

Wall thought the refs did not call a fair game and seemed almost insulted by the late effort to give him and his teammates free throws.

"Just ask the refs. They know. They didn't make the calls," he said. "You keep attacking the basket and no-name guys are getting calls on the other end on little contact. Then you drive to the basket and get contact the whole game and they try to make up for those calls in the last two or three minutes of the game... Don't try to give me the calls when there is 30, 45 seconds or a minute left to make me feel good. That's not going to change the outcome or how aggressive I want to be the whole game."

The Wizards were called for 27 fouls, while the Jazz were tagged for 19. Combined with an already tough defense and Utah was too much for the Wizards in a 102-92 loss. That snapped a 23-game streak for the Wizards of scoring at least 100 points.

Guard Bradley Beal pointed out the difference in free throws at halftime as a "little weird." Forward Markieff Morris went further.

"All we can ask for them is to do their job to the best of their capabilities, like they ask of us every night," he said of referees Bill Spooner, Eric Dalen and Eric Lewis. "We had a bad game, they had a bad game. We came out with the loss and that's the consequences in those games."

For the Wizards, they feel like this has been a common theme this season. Washington is 26th out of 30 NBA teams in free throw attempts (21.3) per game. Opponents average 24.2 free throws per game, ninth-most in the league.

"We haven't been getting calls all year," Beal said.

"That's typically been happening all year. It's unfortunate," Morris added.

"It didn't go our way and that's nothing new. We've dealt with this before," Wall said. "I'm used to it. We're used to it by now. We don't get too many calls. It's funny. They always say the same thing. All we can do is try to put it aside and try to compete. But it's tough when you have an outrageously high number, [18] to one and it ended up being 32 to 13."

Morris fouled out of the game after picking up two in less than a minute. His final foul was a charging call. Morris then tossed the basketball in the referee's direction and was called for two technical fouls. He fouled out, then got ejected, all on the same play.

"Refs and their feelings. It's like that all the time. It is what it is," he said.

Wall also let his emotions get the best of him. He was issued a technical foul with :22 seconds left in the first half. That's his 11th of the season.

"It gets frustrating, but I've gotta do a better job of holding my emotions in check," he said.

If Wall gets to 16 he will be suspended one game, per NBA rules.

[RELATED: Jazz coach: Wall and Beal are NBA's best backcourt]

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Takeaways from Wizards' loss to tough Utah Jazz behind Gordon Hayward's 30 points

Takeaways from Wizards' loss to tough Utah Jazz behind Gordon Hayward's 30 points

The good times are no longer rolling for the Wizards now that the All-Star break is over. They lost their second in a row Sunday – the first time they’ve lost consecutive games since Jan. 3 – 102-92 to the Utah Jazz at Verizon Center in front of 19,648.

John Wall (23 points, 11 assists) and Bradley Beal (22 points) led Washington but it was dominated on both ends of the floor by one of the league’s elite defensive teams. The Wizards were held to less than 100 points for the first time in 24 games after being embarrassed Friday in a 120-112 loss at the Philadelphia 76ers.

They were bruised early and often by Utah (37-22), which held them to just 15 points in the second quarter as they trailed 49-39 at the half and never got the deficit to less than 10 until a jumper from Beal in the final four minutes.

Gordon Hayward (30 points, eight rebounds) led all scorers for the Jazz, followed by George Hill (21 points, six assists), Rudy Gobert (15 points, 20 rebounds), Rodney Hood (11 points) and Derrick Favors (10 points, seven rebounds).

A pair of foul shots by Bojan Bogdanovic (15 points), playing for the second time since being acquired in a trade, pulled the Wizards to 95-89 but Hayward responded with a pair of three-pointers to slam the door shut.

[RELATED: Jazz coach: Wall and Beal are NBA's best backcourt]

--Beal didn’t score in the first half, missing his only two shots as he played 11 minutes as he was limited by three fouls. His pull-up jump shot at 8:54 of the third was his first field goal but the Wizards still were down 56-43.

--Morris fouled out with 7:31 because of a charge. He was then ejected as he received his seventh and eighth technical of the season. Wall was called for his 10th technical in the first half. Hill didn’t get called for his first foul until 5:17 was left in the game, which was part of Wall’s frustration. The Jazz were 23 of 32 from the foul line. The Wizards were 10 of 13.

--Ian Mahinmi (seven points, two rebounds) only played seven minutes against Philadelphia because of back spasms. He returned to play a season-high 16 minutes and was part of a late run in the third quarter that trimmed the 24-point deficit to 73-60 to enter the fourth.

--Gobert and Favors dominated inside. They combined for seven blocks and converted lob after lob at the rim. Marcin Gortat (six points, eight rebounds) was pulled at 6:48 of the third quarter. Defensively they snuffed out the Wizards’ pick-and-roll and broke up lobs at the rim to Morris on two occasions. They also combined to grabbed 27 total rebounds and contributed to the overall one-sidedness,  51-27.

--Jason Smith, who was the best player off the bench for Washington in the loss to Philadelphia, didn’t make an appearance for the first time since Dec. 18. He’s lost his time to Mahinmi and Bogdanovic.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Wall has crossover and alley-oop back-to-back]