The Charlotte Hornets didn’t lose to the Indiana Pacers 98-86 because Jeremy Lin didn’t play. They lost because Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson, Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lamb, Marvin Williams and Spencer Hawes didn’t play. Who did they actually put on the floor?
Well, Kemba Walker was back, scoring 12 points in 15 minutes. Cody Zeller was in the lineup, scoring 11 points. Frank Kaminsky finished with 19 points and finally showed his three point stroke, hitting 2-of-5 from beyond the arc in possibly his finest game since begin drafted. Troy Daniels (10 points) and P.J. Hairston were also in the lineup, this time going very small in the 1-2-3 positions, but obviously we’re hardly going to see that kind of combination during the regular season.
On the bench it was Tyler Hansbrough with 10 points and 9 rebounds and Brian Roberts with 6 points. Aaron Harrison scored 3, and this is where the guys worth mentioning list end.
The results usually mean nothing in the preseason, although building some sort of winning form and connection between players doesn’t hurt. In this case, the loss really doesn’t make a difference, as almost anyone who is worth anything on this team didn’t play. Even Walker, who got just 15 minutes, finished the game on a +2 during his minutes on the floor.
While Walker is improving as a point guard and becoming more than just a guy that scores, it’s painfully obvious that this offense is going to struggle during no-Lin minutes, and especially when both Lin and Batum, the best passers on the team, are on the bench.
One last thing about Jeremy Lin before we sign off for this post: Lin is never going to get recognition as a good defensive player. Some early perceptions about his defensive prowess stick, and it’ll take years to change them if it’s possible at all. But his job on Reggie Jackson in the previous game and overall in the preseason, showcasing his more physical approach and stronger upper body makes it harder and harder to think of him as a defensive liability. He has always been great at picking off passing lanes (evident even last season on the sorry-a$$ Lakers), but by being assigned in the right defensive role against the right player (no one expects him to stop Russell Westbrook), he can be extremely productive on both ends of the floor.