Without playing too many minutes, Jeremy Lin once again stole the show as the Charlotte Hornets destroyed the Los Angeles Clippers 113-71 in another preseason game in China.
Not that it took a lot from Lin to electrify the fans in Shanghai. It’s pretty much a captive audience, but they cheered wildly when it was announced he’s in the lineup, even louder when he addressed them in Mandarin before the game and it got ever crazier as almost everything Lin did through his 17 minutes of basketball worked – from the first 3-pointer in the game to tough fadeaway shots and simply dazzling.
Lin opened the game with a 3-pointer and followed that up with fadeaway jumper, a layup and another 3-pointer in the next 3-minutes, accounting for all of the Hornets 10 points to being the game. He added three more points in the third quarter with another deep ball to finish with 13 points, 5 rebounds and one assist. Once again, just like in the previous game, Lin does a good job of getting near the rim, drawing a couple of defenders and allowing someone to come from behind unmarked. This time it was Al Jefferson, in a play that was something of a pick & roll move.
And that pick & roll is something we’re going to see a lot from the Hornets this season. Lin isn’t the only player who can do it, but he has the ability to thread his passes through narrower spaces than other players on this team, and does it better than most in the league. Jefferson has been losing some weight so he can be a bit more active on the floor and not get worn out with the running style the Hornets are trying to implement.
Jefferson led the team with 17 points while Nicolas Batum had a fantastic performance, scoring 14 points to go with 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Personally I think this lineup (Walker, Lin, Batum, Jefferson and Cody Zeller) is the best one offensively for the Hornets, but we’re going to see Clifford try a lot of pairings next to Jefferson, probably preferring another shooter at the ‘4’. Zeller has attempted only two 3-pointers in his two-year NBA career.
Frank Kaminsky might be an option. He scored 6 points including one three. Spencer Hawes is another candidate to fill that role. He scored 8 points off the bench with a three of his own, but Marvin Williams, who started in previous games, might be out there eventually at the start of games to give some defensive balance to the team. The Hornets are obviously still figuring out what lineups work best for them as they try to shake off the disappointment and stagnation of last season.
As for Lin, it’s not a question of being in the lineup or not. It’s more about his role, the players he’ll be around most of the time and the number of minutes he’ll get. He brings the most out of this Hornets offense when the ball is in his hands, and it’ll be interesting to see if the confidence built through this preseason for him is going to be carried on into the regular season. The Hornets seem to be counting on him in a big way heading into this season, which is probably the most important thing. While preseason performances should always be taking with a small warning sign, he’s definitely making the most of the opportunity.