The Charlotte Hornets aren’t stopping, as their home stand pushes them closer to a playoff berth with a 125-109 win over the Houston Rockets, enjoying one of the worst defenses the NBA has to offer. Jeremy Lin looked better on offense with a bit more playing time than usual, while Kemba Walker was back to his scoring and Marvin Williams enjoyed the acres of space he had to shoot.
The Hornets improve to 37-28 thanks to their seventh straight win, all coming with 108 points or more on offense, scoring 118 or more five times and in all of their last three games. They finished with 62 first half points, their third consecutive game of 60 points or more in the first half, and are 10-0 this season when having such an easy time early on. Their offensive rating during this win streak is 121.3, while they had a 130.3 offensive rating in the win against the Rockets, who were keeping up until the fourth quarter began.
Revenge game for Lin? He’s probably past it. Kevin McHale is gone, and I don’t think Lin ever had any personal beef with Harden, although things have changed in Houston. The team is a lot more disjointed at this point than it was when Lin left. Playing in a frustrating system that allows one player a bit too much will do that to a group, although the Rockets are still on pace to make the playoffs, as awful as they’ve looked in so many games this season. Harden shot just 2-of-14 from the field and Patrick Beverley, the player who nudged Lin out of Houston, was 0-for-5 from the field, with Lin more than playing a part in the team’s good defensive moments.
The Hornets once again had plenty of chances to run the floor, finishing with 28 assists. Nicolas Batum, scoring 14 points, also had 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Walker, leading the team with 26 points, had six assists while shooting 11-of-16 from the field. Lin, playing 26 minutes, finished with 4 assists despite slightly lower usage ratings than usual and statistically had his best performance since the road win against the Pacers just over a month ago.
Williams was the one who enjoyed so many of these assists. Not someone who creates, he had 25 points on 9-of-16 from the field, including 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. It’s the first time this season he’s had 20 points or more in back to back games, doing most of his work from the corners or just from underneath the paint. The Rockets fall apart in transition defensively, or whenever a team swings the ball, which the Hornets have done better in recent games.
And the usual Lin finish? He had 16 points, his highest since the Cavaliers game we love mentioning so much. His long ball wasn’t great, but still made 4-of-9 from the field, attacking the rim and going 7-for-8 from the line, being almost automatic from there while being fantastic in his ability to get to the foul line since he’s realized it’s his best way of getting points while his shot remains iffy (Lin claims it’s about his muscles getting used to the new mechanics), and he is at his best when going to the hoop. Despite the five fouls he played more than usual, 26 minutes, although it’s hard to see this as a trend that will follow. Obviously, being more efficient than usual on offense doesn’t hurt.