It seems the transformation is complete, although the life of an NBA constantly takes unexpected turns along the way. Jeremy Lin has now turned into a bit player, getting the minutes he knows no one will notice, while James Harden is back to leading the Houston Rockets unequivocally, leading them to another win, this time over the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets had no problem as Dwight Howard got to play against his former team, in a place he isn’t very loved in by many people any more. There was a tribute video, but also plenty of booing. He didn’t let it stop him, scoring 19 points with 13 rebounds in a very dominant performance, getting the usual lead from James Harden, playing some excellent basketball recently, although it had to come with the regular chucking after a few games of 10 or more assists, this time finishing with 31 points and 6 dishes to others.
Chandler Parsons scored 19 points, Terrence Jones had 17 points while Patrick Beverley once again struggled offensively (we’ll get to that later on) but the bottom line was another win for the Houston Rockets, this time 101-89 over the tanking Orlando Magic.
The Rockets actually opened the game appallingly. Howard was affected by the booing early on, but shook those emotions off of him in the third quarter. James Harden and the rest of the starting lineup looked shaky, slighlty confused by the energy coming from the Magic early on. It was actually the second unit – yes, that in which Lin plays quite often, that helped the Rockets get a grip back on the game.
It doesn’t show in the numbers, but Lin doesn’t always show up when it comes to the stats. It was the influence he had on the game, and the passing that started with him and rubbed off on others. Too bad he didn’t get too many chances to prove he can do more than just influence teammates, especially with Patrick Beverley having an awful game.
But players are treated differently under McHale’s watchful eye. One mistake by Lin is like five or six for other players he prefers. With the team winning, even when one or two players aren’t doing as expected of them, you can’t expect an unimaginative head coach tor change things up.
There aren’t that many players who are 7th or 6th in the rotation and get so many words written about him, but Jeremy Lin isn’t your typical bench player in the NBA. It’s not just the talent, but it’s the unique way people react to him, from the first moment he burst out during the 2011-2012 season as a Knicks player.
There are plenty of guys who think they deserve more minutes than they’re getting, but Lin is someone who can be a starting point guard for at least half this league and still gets the scrub treatment for every mistake he has made, at least under this administration.
The Houston Rockets are rolling, so it’s not surprising to see Harden getting more and more of the reins as the season gets closer to its boiling point. He might be overrated because of his ability to completely destroy his own team’s game at times, but it’s hard to ignore the shape that he’s in. However, giving Patrick Beverley so much credit for having energy on defense is another one of those inexplicable things McHale does, and it seems that getting away with it has more to do with luck than actual basketball genius.