Many times statistics don’t tell the whole story, and even though Jeremy Lin didn’t put up the most impressive of stat lines, it was his presence that made the Houston Rockets play their best basketball in a dominant fourth quarter, while James Harden sat it out entirely, watching from the bench, hopefully taking some pointers.
The Rockets outscored the Timberwolves 25-11 in the final quarter to come up with the 107-89 win, as Chandler Parsons led the scoring with 20 points and getting a lot of help from Dwight Howard (18 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Patrick Beverley with 14 points, but also doing some great work on the defensive end.
It was that defense that forced 16 turnovers out of the Timberwolves, including two in the early goings of the first quarter from Ricky Rubio who was having another rough shooting night at 2-of-10 from the field. Beverley made life very difficult for the point guard, and his steals led to excellent fast breaks from Jeremy Lin, usually setting up Parsons for the finish. The Rockets scored 26 fast break points and had 25 assists on their 39 field goals.
We didn’t try to rush shots and rush down the floor and take bad shots. We took our time, shared the ball and got good shots. We do an excellent job of sharing the ball and finding an open man. When we do that it’s hard for teams to decide what they’re going to do, if they’re going to double out the posts or stay with the 3-point shooters. We just want to make teams make tough decisions on the floor.
Howard’s words describe a lot of what’s been working recently for Houston (six straight wins) and what was the problem before that. Keywords? Sharing the ball. James Harden had a 4-of-14 from the field performance. He did score 19 points, but his decision making was atrocious once again, showing that the selfish streak isn’t going to leave him, not matter how much it helps the opposition grab a footing once again in the game.
Jeremy Lin, especially in the fourth quarter, was the exact opposite. He was only 1-of-6 from the field and scoring 2 points, but he led the team in assists (7), turned the ball over only once and made the right play, and especially right pass, time after time. It wasn’t necessary always the one that directly led to the basket, but moving the ball and infecting everyone with his way of passing and thinking did a world of good for the Rockets.
Lin played 33 minutes off the bench, finally more than both Beverley and Harden. It would be naive to think that this is something that will continue consistently considering who the head coach of this team is, but the last couple of weeks and recent win streak has shown more than once just how much better this team is with Jeremy Lin running the floor and not James Harden.
This isn’t a knock on Harden – he should be playing next to Lin, because the truly is an amazing offensive talent. But when it comes to being the play-caller on the floor and playing/acting like a point guard, the Houston Rockets will benefit from more minutes to Lin, making players like Chandler Parsons and Dwight Howard better for it.