For the first time since being reacquainted with the bench Jeremy Lin had a good game and not just a good one, but one in which he was the one who initiated the run to turn it into an easy 117-95 win over the Indiana Pacers. Kemba Walker had another impressive scoring night and the Charlotte Hornets win to enter the All-Star break with a winning record for the first time since January 2.
The Pacers looked pitiful on defense, unable to handle simple pick and roll plays, quick pull ups after screens and the running of the Hornets early in the second quarter after the game was tied at 25-25 following the first 12 minutes. Walker finished with 25 points and 7 rebounds, and has been on a roll since coming off that one game rest due to some knee pain. In the four games (3-1 for the Hornets) Walker is averaging 24.5 points on 42.5% shooting, but hitting three 3-pointers a game, although he didn’t need one this time.
Jeremy Lamb had one of his best games of the season. One of the more inconsistent parts of the Hornets offense (Lamb means nothing defensively unfortunately) he was 7-of-8 from the field to score 16 points, his first double digit scoring game since January 10. He shot just 25.9% from the field in the four games leading up to the win over the Pacers. He is shooting 46.3% from the field this season, so this may be a return to norm for him.
Lin finished with 14 points, finally looking like he’s comfortable with the role of coming off the bench. He played 28 minutes, “helped” by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist not being 100% (and maybe much worse with a dislocated shoulder), which isn’t surprising considering he’s been playing 31 minutes a night before this game with half a season gone without him on the floor. Lin has been dealing with ankle issues too, but it seems Clifford isn’t a fan of resting players unless there’s no choice, counting on the All-Star break to patch them up.
In the three games following the win against the Cavaliers, Lin averaged just 5 points per game on 27.8% from the field. That’s way worse than just bad. This time, entering the game with the Hornets up by one with 4:09 left in the first, he spent a few minutes of not getting involved (guess why) but the second quarter rush was all him, scoring seven points and adding two assists in 7 minutes, with the Hornets up by nine points when he was sent to the bench again.
A good sign for Lin? Hard to say. As we mentioned the insurance policy theory on the post yesterday, it seems that this was the thinking here. Not all the minutes “lost” by MKG (played 19 minutes) went to Lin, who was averaging 19.2 minutes in the three previous games, but the same method of Lin mistakes being punished by benching was at work. He simply had a better start to his time on the court than in previous games, not giving Clifford the excuse to bench him.
Good game for Lin aside, the Hornets have very little to complain about, having nine days before they get their Eastern tour going again. It’s more than a week for their key players, all with some nagging injuries, some more severe than others, to rest and heal up. Whether it’s good or bad for Lin? A healthy Hornets team means limited minutes for the backup point guard, who like in this game, will have to make the most of the opportunities given to him in order to maybe eat up some minutes from Clifford’s favorite trio. But it seems that Lin might be in for minutes with Kidd-Gilchrist about to miss some more time.