Tweaking his ankle in the previous game made Jeremy Lin ineffective against the Miami Heat in game 6 and might be the thing that keeps the Charlotte Hornets from winning the series following their 97-90 loss, tying the series at 3-3.
Lin hurt his ankle, which has been giving him trouble this season once, twice or thrice, and since then hasn’t been the same. He hasn’t had the time to recuperate, and while in game 5 he simply took it down a notch, he simply looked incapable of giving the Hornets what they need from him. Not the speed, not the ability to push the tempo or create for himself and others. He barely had any spring in his step, finishing with 1-for-8 from the field, scoring 8 points thanks to his usual ability to get to the line (6-for-6). This wasn’t just a bad shooting game for Lin. He looked uncomfortable from the first minute, and it affected everyone who played with him. Lin finished with -17 during his 24 minutes.
Without Lin capable of giving the Hornets that something special that gave them the advantage for three straight games against a better team, the Hornets had just one thing they were willing to go to: Kemba Walker, and a little bit of Al Jefferson. This means their old basketball, which they weren’t planning on counting on this season. Walker had himself a huge night with 37 points on 14-for-30 from the field. It almost got them to where they needed, but after falling behind by 13 just before the half, all they could do was cut the lead down to two points with 1:39 remaining.
From there, Dwyane Wade took over. He hit a three pointer, and responded to Jefferson bringing the lead down to three with a layup with two more points. Then, with 18 seconds in the game, as Walker drove hard for the layup, Wade was there with the clutch block. He probably fouled Walker as well on the play, but no whistle was made, and from that moment, it didn’t really matter. Joe Johnson sealed the deal from the free throw line, and we’re heading to Miami for Game 7.
The one thing the Heat couldn’t handle is now gone, or limited. And without Lin capable bringing the Hornets what they need, not to mention Nicolas Batum looking like he needs more than two more days to get back to where Charlotte need him to be, it’s up to Walker, Jefferson, Marvin Williams and Courtney Lee. In short? Just what the Heat want it to be. Walker hit four three pointers in the game, but the Hornets were 5-for-17 from three with a total of 12 assists. Unless Walker can either do something out of this world with his isolation scoring or overnight turn into a different kind of point guard, it’s hard seeing the Hornets playing the kind of basketball that makes the Miami Heat uncomfortable. Or maybe there’s some magic cure to Lin’s ailing ankle.