James Harden knew what he wanted and the decision was not up for discussion. The Toyota Center crowd – breaking into a chant of “Lin! Lin! Lin!” – agreed with his decision.

The Rockets had easily put away the Cavaliers, with even their 12-minute snooze in the middle of the game seeming to work as planned, as if designed for the Rockets’ stars of the evening to stick around until the end of a 106-92 blowout.

With nothing else in doubt and Lin an assist shy of the triple double his teammates had been demanding with each late dead ball, the Rockets were down to their final few possessions. Harden, who had spent the previous two possessions trying to get Pat Beverley his first points, called for Lin to run a pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard to get the assist he needed for his first career triple double.

The play could not have worked better in pregame warmups. Lin moved sharply to his right and then turned down the lane before finding Howard on the move. Howard finished with his left half. Lin had his 10th assist to go with 11 rebounds and 15 points, the first Rockets triple double this season.

“I didn’t know until I needed a couple more assists,” Lin said. “That’s when everyone started talking about it.

“It’s really humbling to think about, you know, the whole journey and now this, which is another cool thing.”

The crowd roared when Howard’s final shot fell, giving him 26 points on 10 of 12 shooting and 6 of 8 shooting from the line. Harden returned from two games out with a sprained thumb to score 28, making 10 of 17 shots, completing his night with a slam off an alley oop pass off the backboard from Pat Beverley.

But a game that would have been otherwise forgettable against a team that has 13-consecutive losses when playing teams with winning records became memorable when Lin had his triple double, becoming the first Rockets player to come off the bench and get a triple-double since Cedric Maxwell on March 31, 1988 at Indiana.

“It’s just a great individual accomplishment to be able to get a triple double,” Harden said. “I came off the bench and I’ve never done it (off the bench.) He’s talented enough to do it and he did.”

His turnaround began, however, when Lin returned to the starting lineup with Harden out. He scored 18 points in wins against the Spurs and Mavericks, making 13 of 27 shots with 15 rebounds in the two games. He had failed to score in double-digits in five of the previous six games, never getting more than five assists.

As a starter, he was more assertive and looked to bring that to his role off the bench, especially when he returned to the court less than four minutes into the second half following an 11-0 Cleveland run in which they completed a comeback from down 19 to a two-point lead. Rockets coach Kevin McHale said he made the move, also bringing in Donatas Motiejunas, to get more disciplined work defensively in dealing with the Cavs’ screens.

He never did return to Parsons, saying “Other guys, I thought, played very well.

“Jeremy had a really good game,” McHale said. “We really needed it. Jeremy just had a good, positive vibe going, playing hard, wasn’t losing his mind if something happened. That group we had out there was traumatic. It was just too much of that.”

Lin became a scene stealer, however, when he continued the aggressive play that began when he got the start Tuesday against the Spurs.