Even teams that tank win from time to time. The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Chicago Bulls 123-118 to get their moment in the sun, with Jeremy Lin doing well off the bench, but his playing time despite the double overtime game never came close to the point guard the franchise is backing, Jordan Clarkson.
This isn’t a competition. Lin isn’t the kind of player to sulk while his team is winning. He’s cheering on players that are inferior to him but get to play more than him. But it has to hurt somewhere that it has once again happened to him, and he’s finding himself coming off the bench and playing less minutes than another point guard who doesn’t deserve his current role. In fact, Lin is benched because he’s the better player of the two.
Not that Clarkson is doing badly. Without Kobe Bryant a huge shadow is lifted off the team. Suddenly everything is quick, fast, almost fun. It’s not too accurate or polished, but this team is better without the version of Bryant they got on most nights. But that’s enough of the Bryant bashing. He’s nothing but a cheerleader from now on, although his comments on Twitter or through other media outlets will still have their consequences.
The Bulls playing awful defense and the Lakers pushing the ball into the paint worked well for them. Jordan Hill scored 26 points to go with 12 rebounds, Wayne Ellington finished with 23, making it 25.5 per game for him in the last two. Carlos Boozer scored 16 points against his former team in only 28 minutes and Clarkson, getting 43 minutes from Byron Scott, finished with 18 points on 6-of-15 from the field, coming in for Lin with 4:03 left in regulation and never leaving again.
Clarkson almost cost the Lakers the game. While he did make some shots, he made plenty of mistakes that allowed the Bulls to complete their comeback and force overtime. He bounced back in the second overtime but the Lakers seem to be quite happy to see him go through the motions in crunch time and suffer from his inexperience because it the long run it’ll get them a better, higher draft pick and maybe somehow also polish a decent point guard for them.
Lin scored 11 points, adding five assists in 27 minutes of basketball. He had good moments, he had a few that he’d like to forget. In the grand scheme of things? His minutes are meaningless and irrelevant to the Lakers, clearly showing they don’t see him as part of anything they’re trying to build. Try being at your workplace with that sitting in the back of your head, knowing you’re possibly the best player on this team which is exactly why you’re being reduced into a bench player, and often taken out of games when things are going too well.