TAIPEI, Taiwan — Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin arrived in Taiwan on Friday to play in his parents’ homeland.
The Rockets will face the Indiana Pacers in an NBA preseason game Sunday in Taipei – a special occasion for the league’s first American-born player of Taiwanese descent.
“I kind of see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Lin told a packed news conference. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to come back and play a NBA preseason game here where my parents were born and raised.
“Definitely, I am looking forward to it. It’s a celebration in some sense.”
The Rockets and Pacers traveled to Taipei from Manila, where Houston beat Indiana, 116-96, on Thursday in the first NBA preseason game in the Philippines.
Taiwan is still in the throes of “Linsanity,” with Lin T-shirts and related paraphernalia popular on this self-governing island of 23 million people, 100 miles off the China coast.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale said Lin learned last season about the grind of a full NBA season and praised him for the hard work he put in over the summer to improve his game.
“He worked really, really hard,” McHale said. “I think he’s going to get better and better.”
Home to a professional basketball league of its own, Taiwan fits into the NBA’s plans to expand its brand internationally. Retired star Yao Ming of China gave the league a massive lift in the world’s largest single market.
The game on Sunday is the second NBA exhibition in Taipei in four years. The Pacers played the Denver Nuggets in October 2009.
“We spent a lot time together off the court,” new Rockets center Dwight Howard said. “This trip has really helped us bond. I am very, very excited about our future as a team. I believe that everybody has a confidence that we can win a championship. That’s the main thing.”
Around the league
• DeMar DeRozan scored 20 points to lead the Raptors to a 100-91 preseason victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night, spoiling Andrea Bargnani’s return to Toronto. Bargnani, who was traded to the Knicks in the offseason for three players and three draft picks, scored 10 points in 22 minutes. There was some booing throughout the game aimed at the 2006 overall No. 1 pick. Carmelo Anthony had 24 points and eight rebounds for the Knicks (1-1).
• Overall No. 1 draft pick Anthony Bennett scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and Dion Waiters had 21 as the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied for a 110-105 preseason victory over the Orlando Magic. Victor Oladipo, the second pick in the draft, led Orlando with 18 points and three assists.
• Thaddeus Young had 20 points and five rebounds to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 97-85 preseason victory over the Boston Celtics. Jared Sullinger had 19 points for the 0-3 Celtics.