When you’re a player coming off the bench for an undetermined amount of time, you’re going to have highs and lows. Jeremy Lin, after two fantastic games, got only 17 minutes in the 102-97 loss to the Chicago Bulls, had his season low (so far) but still deserved better from his head coach and teammates.
Lin finished with a -15 during his time on the floor, scoring 4 points and shooting 2-of-7 from the field. He did have two steals in another solid defensive performance from him, but Lin not having the kind of game he did previously on offense held back the Hornets, struggling to cope with Jimmy Butler, scoring 27 points in a very aggressive mindset and getting plenty of help from the officials, giving him almost every 50-50 call, leading him to the line 14 times.
The Hornets starters did well. Nicolas Batum had another great game with 28 points, but as we mentioned before, Batum scoring doesn’t usually come from some special flow of the game. He shoots well, but it doesn’t drag the team with him. Al Jefferson struggled in the paint, Marvin Williams had 14 points and Kemba Walker 13 points. The Hornets didn’t play fancy basketball during their minutes. They simply made shots.
But basketball for a good team can’t be about the difference between a good and bad shooting day. It should be about good or bad basketball that you play. The ability to turn defense into easy points; transition offense; ball movement; off the ball movement. Above all, being smart. And when the second unit is about Jeremy Lamb taking the ball to the basket or simply trying to do everything by himself, that’s not being smart.
Lamb scored 15 points but was 5-of-14 from the field and simply ignored his teammates during his time on the court, not to mention doing horrendously defensively, either getting beat by Butler time after time or exposing the rest of the defense to easy points by forcing players to move where they don’t belong. Clifford does need to work on making his second unit a bit better in terms of reacting to defensive breakdowns and switches, but the offense was more painful to watch.
And not letting Lin run the second unit offense just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t necessarily come a direct order from the sidelines to let Lamb do everything himself; some coaches let things flow and players decide for themselves. But that was a bad decision. Even on a bad shooting day with Lin taking too many tough shots instead of sticking to attacking the basket, he’s a much better playmaker than Lamb. The Hornets could have done more in Chicago. As we’ve been saying since the beginning of this season, Lin could have done more, with more minutes, and more touches. He didn’t have a good game, but it’s not all on him.