Jeremy Lin Thriving, Charlotte Hornets Storming, Kemba Walker Slumping

Jeremy Lin

The Charlotte Hornets and especially Jeremy Lin didn’t let their big win the previous night make them dizzy, beating the Brooklyn Nets 105-100 with another rough shooting night for Kemba Walker and the regular short rotation not getting in the way.

Lin is hot, considering everything that happened in the month before, with 22 points per game over the last three performances, adding 21 in the win over the Nets. Like the rest of the team, it was something of an up & down performance in terms of consistency and urgency, but Lin shot very well (8-for-12 from the field) and was once again, for the most part, the only Hornets player unafraid of attacking the rim again and again, while hitting an early shot gave him the confidence to keep his good stretch going. Lin also added 4 assists and one steal.

And it always feels like confidence with Lin, doesn’t it? Like for most NBA players, but with Lin it often seems like two very different sides of him. When he has the ball in his hands and knows he’s free to attack the rim and actually make decisions instead of playing shooting guard, the best comes out of him, and often that’s the best thing for the Hornets. He scored nine points in the fourth quarter as the Hornets kept their small lead intact, combining jumpers with layups and once again being very difficult to stop without a foul. He finished with 4-for-6 from the line, doing his best work in drawing fouls late in the game, including a pair as the Nets were hoping for Hornets misses in the dying seconds.

Nicolas Batum praised Lin for being the difference maker: Jeremy Lin was huge for us. In the third and fourth, he stepped up again for us. He did it last night in the second quarter to give us life, and he did it again tonight. I don’t think we would have won that game if he didn’t step up again for us. Steve Clifford is always stingier when it comes to praising Lin two nights in a row, preferring Batum as his compliment target: He made Jeremy Lin play really well again tonight. Courtney Lee played well again tonight, but Nicolas really made the plays with the game on the line. He had the four-point play and the other pull-up jumper after that. When we needed him, he really made the big plays.

Batum led the Hornets with 23 points, but it was Lin elevated play that took the Hornets out of their bad moments early in the fourth quarter. Frank Kaminsky started instead of Marvin Williams, scoring 14 points, 10 of them in the first quarter. Al Jefferson had 10 points and 4 assists, doing a very good job of spotting a guard moving in space, including two assists to Lin. Walker? He scored 14 points including a nice little move to end one of the quarters, but for the most part did more harm than good with his 4-for-14 shooting. He got to the line and did his part in the fourth, but he’s shooting just 32.5% from the field in the last five games, averaging 15 over the last three. At least when he saw there were hotter hands, he didn’t try and force things himself. Trying to shoot from long range to end his cold streak just makes matters worse.

Once again Courtney Lee was sacrificed in the fourth quarter, getting just a few seconds late in it. The Hornets were actually +20 when he was playing (finished with 7 points in 27 minutes), and while Clifford does love Walker, the last few games have shown that trying to build some harmony in the Lin-Batum-Lee trio could be more useful to the Hornets, or at least something worth keeping in mind, with a more difficult stretch coming up to close out the season, which is taking on a different shape for Lin all of a sudden, and keeps getting better and better for the Hornets, right in the mix of things, battling for third in the East.

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