Personally, for Jeremy Lin, his official debut with the Charlotte Hornets was a very good one. As a team, it could have been a lot better, losing 104-94 to the Miami Heat.
After such an excellent preseason for Lin and the Hornets, expectations were a bit higher, although losing to a reloaded Heat team while a key player in the plan like Jeremy Lamb isn’t playing means it wasn’t a disaster. Some weird decisions by Steve Clifford in the second quarter and overall disappointing basketball from his players until it was a bit too late made for a lackluster start to the season, although the Hornets rarely do well in Miami.
Lin scored 17 points in 27 minutes, looking aggressive and confident with the ball even after misses, hitting 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and was one of the few players trying to move the ball. As Clifford said after the game, the main problem for the Hornets was their preseason basketball not appearing. They ball stuck to the hands of too many players for too long, while not having Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with his defensive impact was evident.
The thing we had done well in preseason we refused to do, which was pass the ball to each other. The ball was sticking.
Without Lamb, it’s weird to understand why Lin didn’t start next to Kemba Walker. He had a good first quarter in any case, but P.J. Hairston? Really?! Hairston scored just 3 points in 18 minutes with 1-of-5 from the field, and makes it so much difficult for the Hornets to play the offense they wanted to have when he’s on the floor. While Brian Roberts isn’t exactly the dream player in the backcourt, he’s better than Hairston, and Lin probably deserved more than 27 minutes.
Al Jefferson scored 17 points as well, all of them coming in the first half. Kemba Walker finished with 19 points to lead the team, but it was too much like last season’s bad games. Walker shot just 5-of-16 from the field and simply tried doing too much on his own. Less ball movement also meant Nicolas Batum couldn’t be the kind of player he can, shooting just 3-of-12 from the field, scoring 9 points and not showcasing his ability to do a little bit of everything.
For the Miami Heat it was a happy night. Not just because of the win, but especially because of Chris Bosh coming back after a long time off the floor. He scored 21 points to lead the Heat who also got 20 from Dwyane Wade and 19 from Gerald Green. It was more a case of simply hitting shots, even the tough ones, and not a team playing excellent basketball, but who is playing that kind of basketball so early in the season? For the Heat, who missed the playoffs last season after four straight Finals appearances, style isn’t the big issue right now.
The Hornets play next game against the Hawks who didn’t look good on their opening night. If Clifford needs to take one thing from this game and implement it before the tip off, is that Hairston needs to be a much smaller part of the rotation, even if he’s a little bit short in the backcourt right now.