If you’re going to get a delayed first win of the season, it better be like this. Jeremy Lin didn’t need 30 minutes or an increased role as the Charlotte Hornets erased the 0 from their W column, walking all over the Chicago Bulls in a 130-105 win.
Just like in the preseason, there’s something with the matchups that doesn’t work well for the Bulls against the Hornets. It’s not a cause for panic or concern in Chicago, but it does mean Fred Hoiberg has a lot of work to do before this is the legitimate threat to the Cavaliers everyone have been praising them up to be. When you defense has no idea how to handle a big point guard who moves well around pick & rolls and keeps attacking the rim, you need to do some homework.
Lin finished with 15 points in only 19 minutes, shooting 4-of-8 from the field (2-for-2 from beyond the arc), picking up five rebounds and dishing out four assists. The Hornets were already running before he came on the floor, but he helped make it a very one sided game both early and late in the game. Lin played with a pace that dragged the whole team forward with him, this time nothing getting in their way, especially not the Bulls defense.
Lin wasn’t just guarded by Aaron Brooks, but he had most of his fun when the Bulls’ backup point guard was marking him. It forces a big man to leave his guy and help out, and Lin other got fouls out of it or open players, especially Spencer Hawes, scoring 13 points in his best performance on the new team, even finishing with the best +/- in the game (+24). His screens were much better and aggressive this time and most importantly, he did what he’s supposed to when left wide open for 3’s thanks to Lin creating the opening and finding him for the points. Lin also did a good job defensively with one block and one steal, be it Brooks or Derrick Rose he was facing.
Besides Lin, Jeremy Lamb showed that there’s something to look forward to regarding him now that he’s happy with the contract situation, scoring 20 points on 9-of-10 from the field. Nicolas Batum remains rather inaccurate with his shooting (4-of-11 from the field, 38.3% this season) but had an easy time getting to the line (9-for-9) as the entire defensive plan for the Bulls fell apart rather early, allowing the Hornets to shoot 60.9% from beyond the arc. Charlotte shooting 3’s is a new thing, and should be something they stick to. Pick and pops, attacking the rim and kicking it out. All Lin specialties and for one game, he wasn’t the only one doing it.
Lin would have been perfect on the Bulls, but we’ve been through that. He’s in a very good situation right now, or better than he was in with the Lakers and Rockets; with a team that believes in him, and only needs to take more chances on him. In the short time he’s been in Charlotte, it has usually paid off to let the game go through him and not anyone else. With the first win in the books, it’s time for the Hornets to decide what kind of team they want to be, and hopefully execute the gameplan that they’ve seen works, not the one they’ve stubbornly stuck to through the first three games of the season.