No more losing streak for the Los Angeles Lakers, at least for a couple of nights, as Jeremy Lin took his game to the levels he has rarely reached this season and carried the team to a 118-111 victory with a terrific performance in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Lin finished with 25 points and 6 assists on 10-of-15 from the field. He was involved in 10 of the 12 overtime points for the Lakers, scoring four of them himself, and added nine in the fourth quarter. Byron Scott actually made the right decision by keeping Jordan Clarkson off the floor when it mattered the most (except for throwing him in after Ronnie Price fouled out) and as expected, the Lakers looked a lot better in every aspect with Lin calling the shots with the ball.
Lin is the first bench player for the Lakers to score 25 points, have at least five assists and shoot 65% or better from the field since Magic Johnson in 1996. The Lakers got only 34 points from their starters (Carlos Boozer with 12 points was the only decent one of them), but the bench, the unit with the best players on this team, scored 84 points on 55.7% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. Wesley Johnson was almost flawless with 22 points on 9-of-11 from the field and Nick Young finally had himself a good shooting game, scoring 19, looking a lot more aggressive and decisive than most nights.
Lin has been waiting for quite some time to get 30 minutes, but not just that – be put in a situation where he could be at his most influential. The Lakers overall look better and more fun to watch with Lin running the show. He’s not the perfect player or the best point guard in the league, but he’s always exciting to watch, and when his confidence is running high which it was given the opportunity to influence the outcome of the game for once, few players in this league can captivate an audience quite like him.
Byron Scott is a joke of a head coach. While we shouldn’t be judging players and coaches just by what they say to the media, insisting that Ronnie Price was the one who turned the game around for the Lakers with his defense on Isaiah Thomas makes no sense. While Price did play good defense on Thomas who was ejected for two quick technical fouls, he fouled out in only 18 minutes. Jeremy Lin had his name written over almost every point in the fourth quarter and overtime.
But Scott has it in for Lin. It’s not just a tanking thing and about keeping the best players off the court. The more we see from this season and look back at how things went before the injury to Kobe Bryant and the decision from above to give up on looking competitive this season, it adds up. Scott prefers almost everything and anyone else to Lin. Luckily for the Lakers, even if a lot of their fans don’t realize that, there’s very little Scott actually controls in this organization.
Hopefully, for both the Lakers and Lin, this isn’t going to be just a random, rare night lost amid the Lakers tanking. Even with Lin playing extra minutes, it’s unlikely that the Lakers are going to be winning a whole lot from now until the end of the season. But there are plenty of winnable games along the way, and putting Lin in the game for more minutes and especially those that matter can make the rest of this season a lot more pleasant and fun to watch. The Lakers don’t have to worry. They’re not making the playoffs, and they’re going to have plenty of ping pong balls. No reason in actually making fans suffer all the way through.