Another back-to-back stretch for Jeremy Lin and the Atlanta Hawks. Two losses for one of the worst teams in the East, but more encouraging signs for Lin, who had his 2nd best scoring game of the season and even leading the Hawks in points for the first time this year.
Game 10 @ Charlotte
Not Lin’s highest scoring game of the season, but undoubtedly his most efficient and perhaps even flawless on the offensive side of the ball. He finished with 19 points in 18 minutes, with 7-for-9 from the field, 4-for-4 from the line, 2 assists and 2 steals.
I think that this was the game that highlights best Lin’s progress from the beginning of the season. We’ve seen him being aggressive, but he was a lot smarter about his possessions this time. He saw a lot of different looks from Hornets defenders, but it didn’t matter. Kemba, Tony Parker, Malik Monk and some bigger players too – Lin had no problem putting himself in comfortable positions for shots. He was quicker with the ball movement (whether his decision or a matter of better chemistry or even coaching instructions). It felt like he had more confidence about taking risks on defense too, which can enable him, hopefully, to showcase more and more of his ability in the open floor, something I feel is often missing from the Hawks’ offense.
Game 11 vs New York
The Knicks used bigger defenders on Lin and overall have a more intimidating in-the-paint presence which meant a more difficult time getting to the rim for everyone. Lin still drove to the basket often, he was just fouled instead of given the chance to finish at the rim. Lin picked up 9 points, six of them from the line, the other from beyond the arc, but also added 5 assists and a steal, drew 2 charging fouls and turned the ball over 4 times.
There was nothing new or spectacular about his offense in this game. I did like his movement on defense, despite the back-to-back. Not just his positioning and awareness to take the charges, but also looking a lot fresher when running around on switches and flying to help in coverages and double teams. Things looks a lot less smoother on offense this time, but the highs & lows will continue for Lin, as well as the irregularity in the time slots Pierce puts him in and pulls him out.
After 11 games, Lin is averaging 8.9 points and 2.5 assists in 16.8 minutes per game with a 13.6 PER. He’s shooting 45.5% from the field, 30.4% from three and 86.1% from the line.
After these two games, I’m a lot more optimistic about the direction Lin is in his comeback (sort of?) season. I’m not as optimistic about the direction, if there is any, the Hawks are going.