Believe it or not, the Charlotte Hornets had no problem with the Philadelphia 76ers in a 119-99 win, once again led by Kemba Walker, focused on scoring and not much else. Jeremy Lin did the best he could with the little time he got to operate in (including the entire fourth quarter), but does on an individual level, does it really matter?
On a team level it’s important. Even if Lin is now someone who get 20 minutes on average per game (exactly that in the last four games), the Hornets need their backup point guard who they play more as a shooting guard for some reason to do well. There are only so many Phoenix Suns and 76ers in this league that don’t require a full team effort to beat, not to mention the playoffs, which is where the Hornets are headed right now: Only 0.5 games behind fifth in the East, and aside from the Cavaliers and Raptors looking untouchable at 1-2, everything is open.
Walker scored 30 points in 38 minutes on 10-of-21 from the field, followed by Cody Zeller scoring 15 points, Marvin Williams added 14 and Lin, making the most of his time on the floor, finishing with 14 as well. He shot 4-of-6 from the field and 6-of-6 from the line. He focused on getting closer to the rim, which is always a good way to put shaky shooting behind you. Especially when it’s a bad defense in front of you, not really bothering a player who intends to score from up close.
The Sixers have now lost 10 games in a row, and in all but two of them have given up 111 points or more. The Hornets shot 49.4% from the field and easily got to the line, shooting 29-of-35. Yet it took them until late in the third quarter (coincidentally when Lin came in the game) to start pushing away. It was 72-70 when Lin entered with 3:19 left in the game. The Hornets had a nine point lead at the end of the quarter, and ran away in the fourth scoring 36 points.
Lin wasn’t that involved offensively, not as much as he should be. But once again, if the Hornets are winning and doing well, it really doesn’t matter what might be even better for them. The Walker focus is working for now, so they keep on rolling with it. As Lin himself said after the game: Kemba’s definitely controlling the game and Coach is definitely going through him. Lin did have a pretty high 26.1% usage ratio in this game (22.1% for the season), but it comes from him simply picking up the ball and doing his thing, which isn’t exactly what Steve Clifford wants from him (move the ball along and don’t make mistakes is more the Hornets plan).
The Hornets, who are 20-9 at home this season, play nine of their next ten games at home, including eight in a row starting with the Indiana Pacers after a day to rest from the exhausting experience of beating up on the Suns and Sixers. While it might be a bit of a stretch to think that far ahead, but the playoff spot might be very close to clinched by the end of this home stand if things keep going their way, although the opposition is a bit more difficult than on the last couple of nights.