With every drive through the Knicks' defense, Jeremy Lin brought back to life images of a season ago.

With every confident rush into the lane to find an open Rockets shooter circling in his orbit, the memories came flooding back. With the lead swelling to an inexplicable 27 points, all those stunning February nights seemed back within Lin's grasp.

Lin was in Madison Square Garden for the first time since leaving New York to return to the Rockets. A day after describing his play as "terrible," he was sensational again, as if he never left.

Back in the scene of his prime, Lin was back to being last season's sensation, turning the cheers that welcomed him to boos and finally stunned silence. With Lin scoring a layup-filled 22 points, the Rockets blew out the Knicks 109-96 on Monday night, offering not just a reminder of the chapter Lin called "the time of my life" but also flashbacks to how it was written.

"It was a lot of fun playing out there," Lin said. "I think we took a step in the right direction, and for me, it was great to be back and playing on that court again."

The ovation — more respectful than rousing — that greeted Lin's return had barely died down when he was in his first full sprint toward the rim, finishing a backdoor cut to take a pass from Chandler Parsons to a layup.

He never slowed down (his final basket was his eighth at the rim) until he had taken the Rockets with him just as he had the Knicks in all those memorable wins last season.

"We keep on telling him to be aggressive and attack," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "Maybe he felt comfortable here in Madison Square Garden.

"He's a great kid. He's hard on himself at times. For him to have a great game here, I'm sure he feels pretty good right now. We all feel good for him."

Asked if Lin has been too hard on himself, McHale said, "Probably. You're always your own worst critic. If you're competitive, you probably are always more harsh and critical of yourself. There are times, too, you have to give yourself a break. He's going to be fine."