With James Harden still missing and Chandler Parsons not playing as well, the load on Jeremy Lin to carry the offense of the Houston Rockets was greater than ever, this season at least. You know what? He had no problem being the man with the spotlight on him, as expected, having an excellent game while enjoying a very good one from Omer Asik in the paint to prove the point of his importance to Kevin McHale one more time.
The Orlando Magic, who seem to be in tank mode, aren’t exactly the fiercest of opponents, but with so many key players out, even a home game like this could have turned out to be trickier than originally thought. Luckily for the Rockets, their 32-14 opening first quarter was enough to keep this contest a little bit less than exciting, with the Rockets eventually winning 111-103, putting them three games ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers who are at ninth.
You can always do anything with any five players; it’s just a matter of buying into it and going through the kinks of doing something new at this point.
With that attitude, it’s no surprise Lin was so successful when he got the reins and the faith last season with the Knicks, and proves every time that McHale happens to believe in him that he’s worth that endorsement. Lin finished with 19 points on 8-16 from the field, adding 11 assists, making Omer Asik (22 points, 18 rebounds) and Greg Smith look like beasts in the paint, as the Rockets had no problem scoring 60 in there.
For the most part, they stayed away from their three point shooting tactics except for when Carlos Delfino was on the court, trying to do a little too much, going 1-10 from beyond the arc in a horrible shooting performance from the Argentine. The Magic did manage to cut the lead down to 5 points within the last minute of the game, but the Rockets’ starters, only two of them from the original lineup, never returned.
Again – James Harden is better than Jeremy Lin, and is the main reason they’ve been so successful this season. But… playing basketball with Lin as the main point guard, as it turns out, isn’t such a bad idea, proven time and time again. Kevin McHale loves Harden, and loves giving him the reins to make the decisions. The problem is that sometimes, some players let it go to their head, and they start making foolish decisions.
While Lin can’t score like Harden or get to the line that often, there are some things, like pass and be trusted to not go on a selfish binge in the middle of the game, that he actually does better. When McHale learns to combine their strengths, the Rockets will look more than a team bound to be knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.