Getting cut from the Golden State Warriors was probably the best thing that happened early in the NBA career of Jeremy Lin, who came back to the Bay Area for the first time since then and got a lot of help from his Houston Rockets back-court teammate, James Harden, in getting even with the team that passed on him.
Well, as always, the show wasn’t about Lin, although you couldn’t tell by some of the fans. Lin isn’t the rock-star he was last season, but there will always be a group cheering for him, even in the most hostile road game environments, not that NBA away games are like that most of the time.
Lin, and the Rockets, couldn’t make shot from beyond the arc and the outside – the Warriors weren’t going to let Houston rain three pointers on them once again, but this team doesn’t have a good enough defense to shut out one of the best offensive games in the NBA. Both Lin and Harden had no problem making their way to the basket and getting to the line.
Lin finished with 14 points and 10 assists while making only 30% of his field goal attempts, but combining with James Harden for 19-19 from the line. Lin took more part in the ball handling with Harden playing hurt for almost half the game, but still leading the team, scoring 27 points, adding 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Seven Rockets players finished in double figures, this time no one except for Chandler Parsons, quickly making himself a very useful third part of the focus on the Rockets’ offense, having a good day from the outside. That didn’t stop the Rockets from shooting, going 10-34 (less than 30%) against a team that has now lost five games in a row, and can’t seem to find its brand of basketball back, especially on offense.
Stephen Curry had a big night with 27 points, and so did Jarrett Jack (22) and Klay Thompson (22), but what should be their advantage over Houston, with Andrew Bogut and David Lee, just didn’t really work out. Lee scored 12 points and Bogut had only 8, struggling with Omer Asik (13 points, 15 rebounds) and stopping the Rockets from scoring in the paint (48 points) en route to a 116-107 loss.
Harden looked hurting, and worse, at the end of the game, sitting with a pack of ice on his left knee, simply letting the pain wash over him in the locker room. He didn’t sound like someone who was going to let this thing keep him from playing anytime soon, especially not in Houston, hosting the All-Star game this weekend.
It’s… very tough. I can barely walk. Still limping. I kind of felt the momentum going our way in the third quarter … so I didn’t want to shut it down. I’ll play in the All-Star game. Why not? I’m tough.
The Rockets aren’t scorching entering the All-Star break, splitting their last four games, but there’s definitely change to where they were about a month ago. The basketball is better, and it looks like the team is willing to play in more than one way, actually solving problems, looking much more smarter and adept when their initial game plan doesn’t work. How far can this take them? They’re hoping that it’s going to be more than just an 8th or 7th seed in the West.