Without Jeremy Lin waking up in the fourth quarter, the Charlotte Hornets wouldn’t have come close to actually turning the game around against the Atlanta Hawks in what ended in a loss. Both Lin and especially his team have another shot at getting revenge, plus a first win this season, on a Sunday afternoon.
Shooting-wise, it wasn’t Lin’s best performance. Just 2-of-8 from the field en route to 12 points in 27 minutes. Lin looked better, or at least more efficient on opening night, a 10-point loss to the Miami Heat. But Lin hit two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to pull the Hornets back from a pretty heavy defeat into a tied game at one point. He looked great in the fourth against the Heat as well. There are his own inconsistencies to work it, and especially shot selection at this point, but Clifford needs more of Lin on the floor.
He needs more of Lin because Kemba Walker is refusing to change. He shot 5-of-15 from the field in the loss to the Hawks and once again jumbled up the entire offensive game. The defense of everyone overall was slightly better, something the Hornets were concerned about after game 1, but the offense getting fixed or change was the issue going into this season. Nicolas Batum and Lin were brought in so they ball could move, not get glued to the hand of one inefficient point guard.
Maybe a big problem is P.J. Hairston getting minutes, and Jeremy Lamb as well. One might forgive Lamb who missed his first night with the Hornets and at least offensively looked decent with 9 points in 15 minutes. But Lamb shoots, and that’s about it. Lin does that, almost as well, and adds that special dimension no one on the Hornets has. As we’ve said, it seems so far he’s letting the older tendencies of this team regarding spacing and ball movement get to him instead of it being the other way around.
But Clifford needs to put Lin on the floor for more minutes. Maybe even start. The Hornets overall look better when he plays, and if he’s so worried about the second unit he can change the rotations a little bit so Walker stays with some of them while Lin takes a rest and make sure his team is never on the floor without the both of them. The Hornets have problems in creativity and offense in general off the bench, but treating Lin like an upgraded bench player isn’t going to help the Hornets pick up the pace.
Lin is in a good situation in Charlotte, but while it might be difficult because of the dominance of Walker in the backcourt, the Hornets need to shift the balance more towards Lin and Batum as the primary ball handlers on this team. It’s smarter basketball, it’s the kind of basketball they were looking for. It should make Cody Zeller, Al Jefferson and Frank Kaminsky a lot better. It should provide Walker with the incentive to change. Sticking to the same game plan only with different players will lead to a similar disappointment as last season.