In possibly the best complete game from the Charlotte Hornets all season long, Jeremy Lin was also having a good time, putting on his finest performance in over two weeks, resulting in a 104-84 win over the Detroit Pistons.
In the post before the game I thought going smaller and less with Cody Zeller could help counter the Pistons, but Andre Drummond got into early foul trouble and the Pistons had a problem handling Zeller’s movement towards the basket and into the paint. The former Indiana star scored 20 points in just 28 minutes, often getting to the line, finishing with 10-of-13. In two consecutive games, he has set new scoring high for him this season.
Zeller was one of five players in double figures. Kemba Walker scored 14 points, Nicolas Batum had 13 and Marvin Williams finished with 14 as well. Lin, finally, was in double figures as well, despite his minutes remaining the same: 26. He scored 13 points on 5-of-10 from the field (slowly getting back to the shot numbers he needs to be in) including one three pointer and a couple from the line. He hit just 2-of-4 from the line, and Lin should be doing better from there.
But besides his scoring, there was a lot more. Lin finished with 4 assists, but he had a few hockey assists as well, and a couple ruined by misses, like a beautiful no-look pass for a wide open Nicolas Batum who missed the shot from three. Lin also had a couple of steals, and maybe most importantly, his approach right from the get go was attack the basket and his defender, finding his way to the paint rather easily time after time, simply blowing by the guy guarding him for a nice left handed finish.
It’s also interesting to see how Lin connects with certain players on the floor. He and Jeremy Lamb spend a lot of minutes together, and Lin is getting better and better at finding Lamb exactly at the right spot and right time for the better finishes. He also has a nice thing going with Williams, who late in his career is becoming more and more useful, especially for his improved defense and ability to fit in with almost any lineup the Hornets use.
Charlotte better without Al Jefferson? It’s never bad to have someone who can score near the basket like Jefferson, but the style and game can’t be about that. The Hornets are better with more space to run on the floor and having more mobile players. Had Jefferson played, it might have been easy pickings for Drummond, who could have just sat down low and dealt with Jefferson rather comfortably. Clifford might have been forced to get creative and put his players in a more comfortable situation in hindsight, but it worked, and hopefully, he’ll learn from that. How about learning that Lin needs to be on the floor for consistent minutes, and hopefully more than 26-27 a night? From what we’ve seen this season, it’s not too good getting your hopes up.