Houston Rockets – James Harden the Star, Jeremy Lin the Sidekick

In their quest to find a consistent and winning formula, the Houston Rockets have decided that James Harden is their best chance to win, while Jeremy Lin keep playing the sidekick. When Harden plays his best brand of basketball, the un-selfish kind, it doesn’t really matter how good Lin was or wasn’t.

The Charlotte Bobcats aren’t exactly the worst kind of opposition you want to be facing on the weekend, but they did make things difficult for the Rockets in the fourth quarter, or at least early in it, grabbing an 83-81 lead after a three pointer by Ben Gordon. Harden simply ran the floor and the team like nothing is wrong, finding open players time after time against a team stunned by the neck injury to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, having to leave the floor, and not the strongest defensive fort in the NBA anyway.

Harden picked up his first career triple double in a season that has been a breakout year for him in every possible way, getting a place in a lineup, becoming one of the NBA’s most productive offensive players, earning his first All-Star call up and now, after making some adjustments to his game in the last couple of weeks, gets to show off his versatility, finishing with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the 109-95 win.

It means a lot to me, it’s my first time ever. I was trying to make shots, trying to rebound, trying to find other ways to impact the game other than scoring.

It’s usually Chandler Parsons role to talk after game about the spacing and the passing. This time, it looked like both teams were kinda stunned by what happened to the number 2 draft pick, who collided with teammate Jeffery Taylor and left the court on a stretcher, fitted with a neck brace.

For the rest of the Rockets, it was a very big day. Patrick Patterson kept finding himself open in the fourth quarter, and James Harden kept looking for him. The potential trade bait simply couldn’t miss on one of his best nights of the season, scoring 24 points on 10-12 from the field and 2-3 from beyond the arc. Chandler Parsons also added 24 points, hitting three from three and grabbing 10 rebounds as well. In fact, Jeremy Lin, scoring 9 points while dishing out 8 assists, was the only one from the starting lineup to finish the game in single-digits. Omer Asik had 18 points to go with his 15 rebounds.

The Rockets need to find a way to keep strong openings in the second half. Hardly having anyone contribute from the bench in this one and the unreliability of the bench players, including Toney Doulgas and Carlos Delfino, who can shoot light out one game and brick after brick on another puts a lot of pressure on the Rockets’ first unit, with the team scoring over 60 points in the first half this season 18 times.

While the key to winning or being competitive is James Harden making the right kind of decisions, be it shot selection or finding open teammates, the difference between being a borderline playoff team to something slightly better resides with the ability of the less dependable players, including Lin, to show up for more than short stretches during games.

Images: Chron