Houston Rockets – James Harden Not Playing Makes Jeremy Lin & Everyone Else Better

Jeremy Lin

The Houston Rockets can play better defense and avoid late collapses like this in the future, but the writing is on the wall once again: Jeremy Lin as a point guard without interruptions is great for Dwight Howard and this entire team, that hopefully will finally learn something from this opportunity they’re getting by seeing James Harden sit on the sidelines with an injury.

Chandler Parsons led the Rockets to a 117-115 win with 26 points, followed by Dwight Howard with 21 points and Jeremy Lin with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. It wasn’t a vintage Steve Nash like performance (a player some consider Lin can develop into being like), but the signs of pretty much everyone on the Rockets being involved, and the speeding up of the offense that is sometimes missed was evident through every minute Lin was playing.

Chandler Parsons summed it up perfectly. He might not have been meaning to criticize anyone – Harden or his head coach, but a lot of the things that go wrong with the Rockets’ offense and attitude at times couldn’t be summed up better.

Chandler Parsons

When he’s out, we have a more balanced attack. We run our sets and get the best shot available. When he’s not there, we don’t go one-on-one as much.

The Dallas Mavericks had no problem fighting back in a fun, no-defense kind of game. They had their share of hack-a-Dwight in the end, but after Howard knocked down 7-of-8 from the line in the fourth quarter (9-of-11 in the entire game), Dallas found themselves behind by 12 with 1:37 remaining. Houston shut down at that moment; one thing that this team needs to learn is how to close out close games without Harden. It doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be playing, but having him on the floor automatically means one thing. It was quite clear to see the players weren’t familiar with the situation at hand. Another one on the coach, but who’s counting?

The Mavs went on an 11-1 run to end the game. With the Rockets leading 117-115 Dirk Nowitzki was backing down Jeremy Lin. For some reasons he didn’t take his chances (Lin did a decent job, but he’s not the guy to be guarding Nowitzki) and passed to Jose Calderon, who missed two consecutive 3-pointers, sealing the Rockets’ win in another Texas derby.

Dwight Howard

The Houston Rockets didn’t play a perfect game and certainly not a good one defensively, but showed that even without their supposed best player, they have plenty of basketball, and probably just as much of a chance to compete with good teams because their basketball becomes smarter with Lin running the point. So what’s the answer to making this season about more than just making the playoffs?

The answer, if anyone that matters in the organization is going to, by some chance, get to read this, isn’t about keeping James Harden off the court. When you’re paying someone that kind of money to bring a certain kind of skill set to the floor, you need to let him play. But one of the many jobs a head coach and his staff have is to identify the pros and cons each player brings to the floor and make the best team possible out of that. The way Harden has been used so far, with that projecting on everyone else and especially Lin, is the wrong way to go about it. These last two wins over the Spurs and the Mavs might have been a step in the right direction, but Kevin McHale and his bunch have proven to being basketball blind before.

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