Houston Rockets – Jeremy Lin Gets to Carry James Harden

Maybe this is the game that makes Kevin McHale understand there’s no reason for Jeremy Lin to be demoted and for James Harden to be put on a pedestal. His backup point guard according to his recent lineup selections led the Houston Rockets to a 110-104 overtime win over the Toronto Raptors in a double overtime game.

Jeremy Lin scored 31 points on 10-of-17 from the field in what might be his best game in Rockets uniform. He didn’t have a single assist, but his shooting has never looked better (3-of-6 from beyond the arc), and there was also a confidence level in his drives to the basket that hasn’t been there since the start of the season. Maybe by simply taking matters into his own hand and during some moments enjoying the realization from James Harden that giving up the ball can be good for the team, the Rockets’ recent troubles were solved.

After two consecutive games of dropping double digit leads en route to a home loss, it wasn’t too far from happening again. Injuries, illness and what not are plaguing the team, but that wouldn’t have been an excuse if the Raptors, who shot 33.3% from the field, taking 30 shots more than the Rockets thanks to 23 turnovers (11 for Harden and Lin combined), would have been the third team to win at the Toyota Center thanks to a second half comeback.

This was something. We still are a little bit in the mud, but the guys came out defensively and did a really good job. We were grinding. We just found a way to win. That’s just kind of what we had to do.

Dwight Howard finished with 18 points and 24 rebounds, but he seemed to be an extra in the show that belonged to Jeremy Lin and James Harden, showing their differences and importance to the team. There’s no really surprise about Harden taking over in the final moments, for good and for worse. He saved his best for the second overtime, scoring 7 of the Rockets’ first 9 points in the second overtime.

Jeremy Lin

But once again it was a display of inefficiency throughout a bad second half, shooting 7-of-19 from the field and 3-of-9 from beyond the arc. Over the last three games Harden is shooting 34.4% from the field and 29.1% from beyond the arc. It isn’t stopping him from taking bad shots at an alarming rates when his mind is set on scoring and nothing else.

He did finish with 10 assists, as Jeremy Lin turned out to be the man that carries the Rockets for most of the game. Lin isn’t the scorer Harden is, but he keeps proving that he should get more touches, and maybe when him playing big minutes and getting extra responsibility doesn’t become such a surprising thing, the turnover numbers are also going to come down.

The Rockets have the talent to go far this season, but it means going through some changes – less time with Howard and Asik on the floor, a much better effort from perimeter players on defense and balancing between James Harden and Jeremy Lin, not to mention bringing Lin back into the lineup. Patrick Beverley was awful, scoring one point on 0-of-5 from the field. That’s obviously a misrepresentation of what he can do, but there’s not a single reason to give him added playing time over Lin, who is much more important to his team than McHale would like to admit or even realizes.

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