Sometimes there’s no grand conspiracy holding Jeremy Lin back. Yes, he is still used in the wrong way, but his performance for the Houston Rockets against the Miami Heat was disappointing on both ends of the floor, while James Harden showed everything good and bad about himself as a player.
The Rockets lost 113-104 to the Miami Heat despite being in the lead for most of the game. We actually saw some aggressive defense from people other than Patrick Beverley, including Chandler Parsons who laid off trying to imitate Harden for once, taking only nine shots.
Not that Beverley is such a supreme defender. Just like Harden, he has a few things going for him, but he seems to insist on repeating the same things over and over again until teams catch up. Yes, he did make life miserable for Mario Chalmers, but the Miami Heat can sacrifice Chalmers if it means mismatches on Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. As usual, when you see a team losing its way and mindset at the important stages of the game, look to the head coach, and no one else.
And the Rockets did lose their head. Some might tell themselves it was all about the referees helping out the Heat, but that would just be ignoring the collapse in the end. Yet, there were missed calls, like LeBron James treating Jeremy Lin like a rag doll on a couple of occasions, but the Rockets got away with some calls as well. There’s no excuse for a team to completely fold and lose their way after the techincal foul on Howard, no matter how weird of a decision it was. The Rockets simply stopped playing from that moment, getting outscored 2-15 in the final 4:26 of the game.
Harden led the team with 30 points, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc and 11-of-12 from the line. But it had nothing to do, as usual, with team basketball. So while it worked well for most of the game, his brand of hero ball didn’t work when the Heat tightened the clapse, and he had no choice but to either take bad shots or waste some time dribbling before handing it over to someone else for a miss, including Beverley or Lin.
Dwight Howard had a good game with 21 points but he was also to blame for shutting down defensively in the final five minutes. A team can’t let one call completely demoralize them from playing aggressive basketball like the kind they had going for them earlier in the game.
This wasn’t the game for Lin, but it’s a process that’s been built all through this season. Making Lin into a second, spot up guard instead of letting him leas the team when the best players are playing. He finished with 6 points on 2-of-7 from the field, but the Rockets didn’t play the kind of basketball they need to show in order to be successful at the highest levels.
Going one on one every time might create some nice highlight clips for Harden and Beverley, but eventually teams figure out how to stop you unless you’re named LeBron James or Kevin Durant. The Rockets need to find a way and balance out this tendency to stick too much with the hot (or forced) hand, but from what we’ve seen over the last two seasons, that’s not going to happen.