The Charlotte Hornets beating the Milwaukee Bucks 87-82 was achieved in part due to Jeremy Lin having a fantastic first half to carry the team to a lead they wouldn’t let go of, although his fourth quarter will be another one that won’t show his contribution on the box score, getting taken off just before the finish.
Lin finished with 7 points in 22 minutes, shooting just 1-of-4 from the field and adding 3 rebounds and 4 assists. He once again played excellent defense and his ability to get the team running to cancel out the Bucks’ very good defense in the first half was the reason the Hornets could control the game in the second half with the lead on their side. Lin missed shots in the second half and didn’t get to the line; his shooting is certainly an issue to be worried about right now. But he does so much more for this team during his minutes.
Lin was taken off the floor for good with 2:08 left in the game, with the Hornets leading by four points. Guess what happened? They lost the lead, with Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum missing three times in one possession. When the game was tied, the Hornets finally managed to pull away on a Batum 3-pointer and Walker finishing the job as the Bucks defense looked confused about who to defend. Walker led the Hornets with 22 points, Batum scored 15 on another bad shooting night (4-of-13 from the field).
Compared to the previous games, Lin staying on the floor for most of the fourth quarter is an improvement, and he finished the game with a +10, behind only Frank Kaminsky and Jeremy Lamb, who Lin helped get going in the second quarter, doing the same for other players. Lamb works at his best with Lin finding him on open slots around the perimeter or behind defenses, finishing with 14 points. He looks a lot less effective with Batum and Walker playing with him on the perimeter, both of them slightly eating into his territory and not being the passers Lin is.
But again, why did Clifford take off Lin? He missed three shots, something that happens. He didn’t take poor shots and maybe more importantly, considering how Clifford seems to work, he didn’t turn the ball over. The Hornets almost immediately become a worse team once Lin leaves the game, even if he isn’t having a good shooting day. Lin isn’t the kind of player to try and shoot himself out of a slump. For better and worse (sometimes you need to be selfish), Lin usually gets himself going by creating opportunities for others, and in the last season or two, through defense as well.
Lin hitting a three is encouraging considering his shooting numbers lately (only 37.5% from the field in the last nine games) and he should be trying a little bit more to get to the basket, which usually helps him get hotter for the longer shots, but once again, in the short time he was on the floor compared to others, he showed what an invaluable piece of the puzzle he is, even when he’s not scoring. Unlike Walker and Batum, he’s not hurting the team when he’s having a bad shooting day.