One of the more interesting things about the way Jeremy Lin has been treated by the Houston Rockets and specifically Kevin McHale is that he actually didn’t do anything wrong to deserve losing his role with the team and with that the minutes he’s used to playing. It’s hard to criticize James Harden and Patrick Beverley while the team is doing so well, but the wrongly appointed star of the team almost found a way to cost them a win with one of the dumbest decisions seen this season from a wrongly perceived elite player.
The Houston Rockets were up 106-103 with the ball in their hands. It seemed like the Heat ruined McHale’s plans by not going for the foul, instead playing some full court defense and either trying to force the turnover or getting the ball to Dwight Howard, who actually was shooting pretty well at 6-of-8 from the line on the day. Harden made a double mistake. He got the ball with under 20 seconds left while two players were trying to force him into a mistake. Instead of passing it to an open Beverley, Jones or Chandler Parsons, Harden made the worst possible play – throw it full court to Howard, with LeBron James in the vicinity. Of course it was a turnover, and the Rockets were lucky (not for the first time during the night) to come away with the win after James missed the final shot.
This is pretty much the end of the Harden bashing in this post, I promise you. There won’t be something critical about Patrick Beverley, playing one of his best games in Rockets uniform. Not just the 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, but some excellent defense and effort, something that can be rare in the Rockets’ starting lineup among the perimeter players, including single=handedly stopping a fast break with a block, steal and eventually drawing a foul.
Lin played 15 minutes, finishing with 7 points, and had one huge block on Michael Beasley. That’s about it. The Rockets were at their worst with the second unit on the floor, while the Heat got a red hot Michael Beasley to help them in two comeback attempts during the game.
But this isn’t just a one-time thing for Lin. He has been playing badly ever since he has been demoted, for the second time this season. It began by becoming a sixth man sort of player while Beverley got the starting position, but it didn’t matter as much while Lin was still getting around 30 minutes a night.
But to completely shatter his confidence and move him out of the main rotation, McHale turned him into just another bench player. A backup point guard who is no longer part of the better lineup on this team or their go-to five, but just someone who plays 15-20 minutes a night. He isn’t complaining, but it’s obviously affecting his game and output on both ends of the floor. He’s simply not put in a position to succeed, coming just after what might have possibly been his best stretch as a Rockets player.
The future? The Rockets look good, but for Lin it doesn’t seem all that bright. At least he is still getting that $8.3 million per season – a nice way to soften the blow of a head coach and general manager who have decided that without an apparent reason he’s just not important enough to the championship effort.
While it seems like a mistake to forget about their best point guard just like that, the results in recent games and now in the 106-103 win over the Heat suggest otherwise. We’ll just finish with a warning, which isn’t new. It takes more than just scoring talent and a bit of luck to make it in the playoffs. When a bit of intelligence and ability to think your way out of trouble instead of slamming a head against the wall will be necessary, the Rockets might be surprised they’ve marginalized the one player who can help them.