If the Atlanta Hawks and Lloyd Pierce needed any more proof that Jeremy Lin is their go-to-guy during crunch time, his performance in the 118-110 win over the Washington Wizards has to be a piece of evidence that’s impossible to ignore.
Lin finished with 16 points in the Hawks’ first win after 3 straight losses and only their second victory in the last 9 games. After a quiet first half in which he hit 4 shots from the line and that was it, he turned it on in the third and especially fourth quarter.
Lin scored 12 points in the fourth, dazzling with his ability to change pace, ball handling skills that included some mean crossovers and a beautiful spin, but mostly sliced the Wizards defense to shreds by attacking the rim play after play after play, doing a great job of recognizing how little rim protection Washington had to offer.
He also did a terrific job on John Wall, drawing a key charge foul in the fourth during his fantastic run of layups. He picked up 4 assists in the game, doing a great job of picking up big men enjoying mismatches under the basket, something the Hawks did especially well when he was on the court.
It’s funny to talk about defense excellence for a team when they give up 110 points, but for a team ranked 27th in Defensive Rating, not letting an in-form team run wild on offense is also something to be happy about.
Contrary to the opening paragraph, I don’t think Lin taking over a game in the 4th is such a surprise for Pierce or anyone on the Hawks team – whenever Lin has gotten the support from the bench to be allowed to make mistakes, he has responded with confident, efficient and sometimes even brilliant performance.
Giving him key moments on a consistent basis will lead to the same results – good numbers for Lin and wins for the Hawks. However, the goals of the Hawks for this season might not have a lot to do with winning too many games. Balancing keeping Trae Young happy while adding to Lin’s trade value can be tricky.
Lin’s averages after 26 games: 10.8 points, 3.1 assists, 50.3% from the field, 38.4% from three, 82.5% from the line.