In a defense-less shootout against the Indiana Pacers, the Atlanta Hawks dropped their first post-Christmas game, as Jeremy Lin started out super hot and then was almost non-existent in the second half.
Lin finished with 12 points in 20 minutes of basketball, shooting 4-for-6 (was 4-for-4 to start the game) including two 3-pointers after a rough stretch recently from long range, complemented by 5 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. Not a bad stat line at all, but when almost all of it consists of his first half actions, you have to wonder what happened.
Without knowing what Lloyd Pierce tells his players and Lin himself, two things were apparent from watching the game in the third and fourth quarters: Lin hardly got the ball from his teammates when he was clearly the hot hand going into the third; and Lin, not for the first time, lost the aggressive spark that made him such a nuisance for the Pacers defense in the first half. Maybe one thing leads to another.
The first half had Lin flying off the first pick and then doing one of the two: Swinging the ball to an open teammate around the arc, or getting the defender on his back, make his way into the paint and then decide what he has to do. Lin does a great job of dissecting the defense and finding a hole in it in these situations. We hardly saw any of that in the second half, with Lin moving the ball along to another player, but hardly getting any passes coming his way.
He took two shots in the third quarter, missing them both, and that was it for the second half. For someone with his pace of scoring this season, it just doesn’t make sense – both the lack of intervention from Pierce when he sees Lin not getting the ball, especially with the second unit that works so much better when Lin is running the show, and these weird collapses in confidence and aggression from Lin. There’s a lot of ‘every man for himself’ on bad teams and we already know Lin isn’t like that, but it’s still surprising to see.
Lin got asked during halftime about his interactions with the officials. Per usual, there were quite a few calls that should have been heard but the whistle never blew while Lin was fouled by Pacers players. Whether a more assertive approach with the refs will help something he has suffered from his entire career remains to be seen.
Lin’s season averages so far: 29 games, 10.9 points, 3.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game. He’s shooting 50.5% from the field, 38% from three and 83.3% from the line.