Maybe Byron Scott is tired of being referred to as a joke so he started giving Jeremy Lin more playing time. It hasn’t translated into wins in the last two games, including the Los Angeles Lakers losing 104-103 to the Charlotte Hornets, but there’s no denying how much better the team looks when Lin is on the floor.
And not just playing. He’s confident about his role, but it’s not something that should be relied upon too much because of the fickle nature of tanking coaches. Hopefully he doesn’t have to worry, because the Lakers are simply bad all over which makes it difficult for them to win regardless of who is playing. But at least they look like a team with an actual point guard who can score with growing ease but is there to make the others around him better as well.
Lin scored 23 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and had 8 assists with the Lakers winning by six points during his 30 minutes in one of his best games of the season. They were down by seven points when Lin entered in the third quarter and after hanging close during the early segment of the fourth quarter a Lin assist to Wesley Johnson tied the game at 84, but some misses and turnovers from both Lin and Clarkson helped the Hornets build enough of a lead to finish the game by shooting free throws and the Lakers chasing them.
Despite his 13 points in the fourth quarter, Lin wasn’t perfect. He turned the ball over twice and missed a couple of big shots. But if it wasn’t for Lin, the Lakers wouldn’t have been in the position to win the game. Players can’t be great in fourth quarters without trying, and Lin is finally confident again to take the game on his shoulders and make the decisions in crunch time. They might not always be perfect, but no one is flawless in these situations. Not having the best bunch of teammates in the world in terms of talent, not to mention a head coach giving his team nothing from the sidelines, doesn’t help.
As for the big picture, it brings the Lakers closer to their goal of finishing with a poor record, and hopefully landing in the top five of the lottery. Remember, if the Lakers’ pick lands outside the top 5, they lose it and it goes to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of the Steve Nash trade. We’ve seen tanking teams “punished” in the past like the Celtics in 2007 or 1997, because simply basing your future on luck instead of team-building, player development and actually picking the right coach isn’t a very smart thing to do.
The Lakers look respectable again, and that’s about as much as you can expect from this team at this point of the season. As long as Lin remains the team’s point guard in crucial moments, it’ll put them in the best position possible considering everything else available to them to win games. It’s not going to happen a whole lot, but at least they’ll be fun to watch almost every time, instead of looking like losers before the first second of the game.