The Charlotte Hornets are back on the winning trail with a 116-111 victory against the Brooklyn Nets, once again looking much better when Jeremy Lin was playing, helping Nicolas Batum look great as well.
Batum finished with a team high 24 points and also 8 assists, a couple of them to Lin as he was cutting to the basket and also getting one assist from Lin along the way. Batum is an important player in this construct, along with Lin the most important. He’s a great defender, but he gives the Hornets something they desperately need: Someone who can spread the floor and has vision, not to mention willing to pass the ball. If their starting point guard doesn’t do it, someone has to.
But Batum needs someone who works with him and thinks the same way. Lin seems to be on the same wavelength. He attacks the paint whenever he can, keeps the tempo high with and without the ball, and tries to take advantage of open routes which lead to easy baskets. It’s not that difficult when you’re playing the Nets, a team that might have a head coach that loves to preach defense, but players who have no idea how to perform it right.
Lin scored 13 points to go with 9 rebounds and 4 assists. We’ll begin with the bad, which is the shot making. Things aren’t dropping for Lin, who also turned the ball over five times. This isn’t a case of very old habits returning, but sometimes that’s the price you pay for a high risk type of game, that includes some passes that are difficult to make. But besides Lin’s shooting (0-for-4 for three and in somewhat of a slump) he once again showed that the more he plays the better this team is.
We once again saw Lin disappear for almost the entire third quarter, but once he got back, things clicked a lot better. There was no hero-ball from Walker (at least not as much as in the previous game) and the Hornets, for the most part, played the right kind of basketball. It’s easier when there are no clueless offensive players like P.J. Hairston on the floor, and when there’s actual movement, when even Spencer Hawes is willing to run the floor for Lin to find him for some easy points.
This was pleasing from Lin because he played 29 minutes, which makes it two games of 28 or more, but it wouldn’t hurt to see a little bit more on the floor. Maybe some more in the third quarter, and give him some sort of rest in the fourth earlier on. There are ways to play this the right way, if Clifford is so afraid of starting him for some reason. He likes Batum as his shooting guard, but Cody Zeller looks terrible in the lineup that includes him, Al Jefferson and Marvin Williams, with zero spacing and shooting available for a team that made it a point of emphasis to improve that area of the game. Frank Kaminsky scored 11 points in 23 minutes, and might be a better solution if Clifford insists on so many bigs on the floor.
Maybe Clifford learns from this, maybe he doesn’t. Lin playing significant minutes means a better chance of winning a game. It’s a simple, undeniable, statistic backed fact. Yes, there were just the Nets, one of the worst teams in the league, but the blueprint for playing the right kind of basketball has been there all along. It’s now up to a slightly stubborn head coach to try and figure this out for himself.