After praising Jeremy Lin for his excellent form in the last three games, came a dud of performance from him, although it didn’t really stop the Houston Rockets from picking up a very comfortable home win, led by James Harden (who else), also enjoying the fact that two of their rivals in the NBA playoff race lost on the same night.
These things are going to happen for Lin, who only played 20 minutes. There was no need from him to play more, as the Rockets disposed of the Cleveland Cavaliers (tanking mode?), winning 116-78, giving Kevin McHale a chance to rest his starters for the entire fourth quarter. It’s a good thing to, with the week the Rockets have ahead of them: Spurs, Indiana, Memphis and the Los Angeles Clippers in 8 days, although three of those games are at home, where the Rockets are 24-10.
That was a big win for us, and now we’ve got an even bigger one coming up Sunday. We could see some of these teams coming up in the playoffs, like Memphis and the Clippers. It’s a big test for us, to see where we stand with the elite teams.
James Harden spent 31 minutes on the floor, scoring 20 points on 5-9 from the field, including three field goals from beyond the arc. Among the starters, he got most of the help from Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik, both finishing with 13 points, as Lin was the only one in the lineup to finish in single-digits. He had only 4 points on 2-7 from the field, adding six assists. It was his worst performance for the Rockets since scoring four points in a much harder win to come up with against the Bobcats two months ago. With games against Parker and Paul coming up next week, maybe it was a good thing he hit a road bump, sooner rather than later, when playing against two of the best in the league at his position.
It was another opportunity for the Rockets to give Thomas Robinson some confidence. The rookie power forward played for 22 minutes, scoring 15 points and added 6 rebounds, showing to those who said the Rockets to a step backwards while acquiring him that maybe they aren’t regretting getting him in a trade that was mostly about creating more cap space for next season, while hoping Robinson does better than he did with the Sacramento Kings, being a disappointing 5th overall pick so far.
For Harden, it was the 57th time this season he has scored 20 points. It was one of those rare days when he doesn’t look for a shot first and foremost. It’s hard being an unselfish player when it’s quite clear you’re the best thing the team has going for it, and wouldn’t be near the postseason without you. Harden is still struggling at times to find the right balance between floor general and top scorer for the team, being in that kind of position for less than a season, having a slightly different role as the third scoring option for the Oklahoma City Thunder. With a little bit more offensive consistency from Omer Asik, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin, he’ll have an easier time finding that balance.