For those who read just the box scores without watching games, this was another bad game from Jeremy Lin, while mostly Terrence Jones and a bit more of Dwight Howard and James Harden led the Houston Rockets to a 114-104 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. The truth is a bit more complicated.
Jones did have a great game, finishing with 36 points and 11 rebounds, probably his best game as an NBA player. Dwight Howard had 20 points and 14 rebounds against the weak Milwaukee Bucks interior while James Harden, without going overboard with his shooting (7-of-16 from the field), added 22 points and stood out with 5 steals.
Lin? Not one of his finest, benched for the final 17 minutes of the game. He finished scoring 7 points, adding 4 assists and turning the ball over twice. He had a bad sequence early in the third quarter with consecutive turnovers and a couple of misses, but he actually looked better as things progressed. However, McHale took him out with 5 minutes left in the quarter, and Lin never returned.
Aaron Brooks scored 10 points, adding 4 assists. Patrick Beverley is on the verge of returning to the floor, which is great news for McHale to get back to the lineup he loves using earlier this season, but bad news for Lin and we think that ultimately will be bad news for the Rockets as well.
The Milwaukee Bucks have no defense, and are 7-32 this season. Tanking is written on everyone’s foreheads. They are 4-17 away from home, and it shouldn’t be too difficult for a team with ambitions and aspirations like the ones the Rockets have to actually beat them without too much trouble.
But the Rockets are under-performing for most of this season, and a win against the worst team in the league isn’t going to change that. Instead of battling with the Spurs, Thunder (who are without Westbrook) and Blazers for the top of the West, they’re only 5th in the West in what seems like a long battle for the seeding from 4-to-8 at the moment, with two teams below 8th alos looking to get back in there.
What’s gone wrong? It begins with the coaching. McHale has a very talented team in his hands, but there doesn’t seem to be a single thing he’s done to make it look like a team. Individual ability is great, but up to a point. Giving James Harden the ball in the end to win or lose the game on his own? Great, but only when it works. Jeremy Lin isn’t more important than the franchise, and neither is Dwight Howard or Chandler Parsons. But ignoring them doesn’t really serve the purpose they were all brought in together.
One of the problems with Lin is that he seems to be the only player who’ll be punished if he has a bad game. The Rockets have played very well with James Harden out with an injury, but he has a free license to make all the mistakes he wants. Dwight Howard is their only center; Chandler Parsons is very inconsistent this season which isn’t hurting his minutes, and Terrence Jones might not be the complete power forward the Rockets have dreamed of, but there aren’t any complaints about him considering the alternatives.
But Brooks or Beverley? Instead of Lin? It doesn’t really make sense, and not just from a numbers standpoint, but how in the long run the team looks better with him running the show. However, the first excuse McHale has to take Lin out is usually seized with enthusiasm. Jeremy Lin isn’t in a position to succeed, and that means bad news for him, but just as much for the Houston Rockets, preferring to stick to players who do themselves a world of good, but not necessarily for the team.