The Charlotte Hornets beating the Boston Celtics 114-100 has one big name marked all over it – Jeremy Lin, getting scoring help from Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker and Marvin Williams. It wasn’t just the way Lin once again carried the team against one of their tougher opponents, but there was also something interesting going on with the officiating, just hours after the NBA responded to the Lin Flagrant Fouls video and email.
But we’ll get to that angle later on. Lin finished with 25 points, 21 of them in the first half and 19 of them in the second quarter. Lin was the engineer behind a 31-3 run for the Hornets in the second quarter (39-13 over the 12 minutes) which took the game into garbage time very quickly. But it wasn’t just points. The free flowing nature of the game in those moments gave him the opportunity to show his full arsenal: Seven rebounds, five assists, one block and most impressively five steals. When it’s a fast paced game, his defense doesn’t just stop teams, it turns into easy points on the other end.
Lin finished with 39 minutes of game time. Nicolas Batum twisted his ankle and Lin got to play almost the entire second half. The back to back didn’t seem to affect the Hornets, who looked more winded and tired during their loss in Washington. Lin, probably getting a little bit exploited by the Boston Celtics on Asian American night, had more support than anyone else in the building, including the guys in white and green, who suddenly didn’t look like the team others fear of meeting in the playoffs. With Lin headlining the win over the Celtics, this marks the four biggest wins this season (vs Cavs, Spurs, Raptors and Celtics) coming with Lin dominating the action.
Besides Lin, Al Jefferson had 16 points to go with 11 rebounds, playing in the lineup and doing a very good job against the Celtics frontcourt that looked unable to handle him for most of the game. Jefferson doesn’t bring much defensively, but when his post game is working like this, he makes up for it, and even held his own on that end thanks to great help from the outside as Cody Zeller didn’t play. Jefferson had the second best plus/minus on the team (+23) behind Batum (+31, thanks Gregory Kelly for correcting us). Lin looked like nothing like the player who didn’t make a field goal the night before in Washington. Maybe playing in the city where he went to college (Harvard) or the support of fans through social media recently gave him the necessary boost.
Kemba Walker finished with 18 points, and despite Lin’s ability in the second quarter, got the usual go ahead to do his thing for better or worse in the second half. When you’re in that big of a lead it might not matter that much, but Steve Clifford has to recognize the moments when Walker’s too-long dribbling and freezing out of other players. It doesn’t necessarily mean bench him, but an order from the bench to maybe let someone else handle the ball once or twice wouldn’t be too bad.
Where does this put the Hornets? Still at sixth due to their other losses to the Celtics, and with nothing higher than fifth to aim for. If the Hornets win their next game (playing against the Orlando Magic to finish the season) and the Celtics lose against the Miami Heat, it’ll move the Hornets up to fifth. They won’t play at home either way. Is it better for them to play Miami or Atlanta? They’re 2-2 against the Heat this season and 1-3 vs the Hawks. They’re also 1-2 against the Celtics.
And we finish with Lin again, and maybe of what can be called as an aftershock of the video. Quick recap: Lin’s been getting hit in the head and fouled hard by players for quite some time, only the flagrant foul is never called. A video (past 800k views by now) was made, an email was sent to the league about the discrepancy in how these calls are being made. A response, unsatisfactory one, was made as well. Interestingly enough, Lin went to the line 10 times against the Celtics (made all 10 shots), the third time this season he went to the line 10 times or more. Flagrant fouls weren’t called (Evan Turner tripped him on purpose), but Lin played with referees suddenly happy to call fouls in his favor, at least for a little while. Coincidence, or consequence?