Mar 13, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin (7) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Can Houston Rockets Really Count On Jeremy Lin?


Jeremy Lin is back in the spotlight.

The question is, can the Houston Rockets trust him there?

Lin, who’s come off the bench for 36 of his 63 games, is back as a starter due to Patrick Beverley‘s torn meniscus injury. With the 49-25 Rockets fighting for playoff seeding in the Western Conference, they’re now relying on Lin to carry them from the point guard position.

So far, Houston seems to be struggling with Lin running the show. The Rockers are 1-3 in their last four games, with the only win coming against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. For this stretch, Lin is chipping in 14.0 points and 3.7 assists on just 31.7 percent shooting from the field. For the year, he averages 12.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 28.9 minutes a game.

The Rockets are currently fourth in the West, and are barely holding off the Portland Trail Blazers for home-court advantage in their likely first-round matchup.

Houston must now rely on Lin, who they’ve often bounced up and down the rotation this year, notes culturemaphouston.com’s Chris Baldwin:

What’s truly bizarre is where this injury leaves the Rockets. They need to lean on Lin as their playoff lifeline after a season spent taking shots at his confidence. The way Lin’s been treated is dizzying. From starter to sixth man to . . . sometime seventh and eighth man. All the while Jeremy Lin still put up some crazily good games — rescuing the Rockets with his defense on Spurs All-Star point man Tony Parker on Christmas, popping off the bench to deliver a triple double against Cleveland, blitzing Portland for 26 points. No matter, his time would be reduced with no notice, no logic.

It’s worth noting that Lin has needed to fill in for Beverley before.

Beverly suffered a fractured hand back in late December and would go on to miss 14 games. The Rockets, led by starting point guard Lin, finished 9-5 in that stretch.

How were the Rockets still able to find success with Lin? Efficiency and defense, mainly.

Lin didn’t blow up the stat book with his scoring and assists, and he didn’t need to either.

During these 14 games, Lin averaged 12.8 points and 4.3 assists while playing excellent defense and moving the ball. His defensive rating was an impressive 101.3, down from his season average of 108. His ball-handling was also improved, as Lin’s 2.6 turnovers per game were an improvement over his overall average of 3.1.

With James Harden as a backcourt mate, Lin doesn’t need to put up the 18.2 points and 7.7 assists he did as a starter with the New York Knicks back in 2011-12. Instead, his role should be as a facilitator and defender, while doing a lot of the little things needed to help Houston win.

The Rockets have proven they can win with Lin as their starting point guard already this season.

There’s no reason to believe they can’t do it again.

 

All stats provided by NBA.com/stats unless otherwise noted.

Tags: Houston Rockets Jeremy Lin Nba Playoffs

  • Northerner

    It’s not that the Rockets are struggling with “Lin running the show”. The Rockets are struggling in general, and missing half the usual starting lineup will do that. In the loss against the Clippers, the team made 19 TOs (which isn’t unusual for the Rockets, but detrimental against a solid contender like LAC). There’s also been very limited production from the 4 and 5 positions. Dwight alone would have been the difference against both the Nets and Raptors.

    Lin may be in shooting slump, but scoring-wise he’s still doing his job with 14-16 per game, and I seriously doubt Bev would be putting up more than that. Lin’s game isn’t nearly as bad as the haters will tell you. In fact, it’s sufficient so far considering how frequently he has to change positions on the team, and that he’s gone from playing only 20 minutes per game to 35+.

    We can focus on Lin all we want. In fact, that’s what most Rockets forums and sports writers covering the team do. The reactions he elicits from all sides are powerful, and he’s arguably the most interesting and/or polarizing player on the team (even though he hasn’t actually done anything controversial). Some Rockets “fans” want him gone, but every flaw the team has now would still exist even if Lin wasn’t here. The team’s issues go deeper than that.

    • Fengster

      Great observation. The “so-called” Rockets fans are out of focus. Lin is not the problem on the team. If they really look at the as it is. They noticed that Lin does not play too many minutes to be blame for any lost. Harden & Parson are playing 35+ minutes regardless how off they played yet none of the “so-called” wants to recognized that. It really show these fans are…without any justification to dislike Lin. It’s like my brother didn’t like him so I don’t like him either. Just dumb. Watch the games and the make the proper judgement.

  • B P

    damn… well said Northerner

  • swagcity hooptown

    “Houston seems to be struggling with Lin running the show” What are you writing? Lin never had a chance running the show because it goes through Harden 90% of the time. Even when Lin comes off the bench with PB, he become the SG. If you want to blame somebody look at the defense, look at the opponent scoring and where it came from and who on the Rockets are guarding them. Right now the least important position on the Rocket’s team is the PG because nothing goes through them, unless Harden is willing to share you can bring in CP3 and it still will not work.

  • Cardfather

    “Houston seems to be struggling with Lin running the show.” ???? Since when did Lin REALLY get to run the show with Harden in a game? Lin rarely gets to play true PG for an entire game since he became a Rocket.

    • mma_ko

      Exactly! If you don’t want the games, you wouldn’t know that Lin has been grossly misused. I’ve watched nearly every game on League Pass and it’s been painful. If he is not traded to a team that knows how to use him the right way (ie. just about any team not named the Rockets or coached by Mchale), I’m not giving them another $189 next year.

      • Vincent Lee

        I got both the US and the international version of League Passes so I spend more to watch to watch Lin play, hehe… It’s kinda frustrating at the moment to be a die-hard Lin fan. On one hand, our boy has been surpressed from playing his brand of basketball due to the existence of Harden. On the other hand, very few fans can blame the team for favoring Harden.He’s just simply that good. Harden actually is the true PG of the team if NBA doesn’t have a rule that says a PG has bring the ball up the court.

        Whatever it is, I accept the way Lin is and will support him throughout his NBA career. Let’s hope he gets a shot at starting for a different team at his prime soon. Otherwise, it’s such a pity that we’ll never find out what his ceiling is.

    • Fengster

      Really wonder if the writer watches any of the games??? ;-)

    • Northerner

      Lin is called a PG, but practically speaking he’s now an SG. I still generally agree with the overall message of this article, but people will be critical about that statement of Lin running the team. It’s the most glaring error in the entire piece.

  • mma_ko

    Lin doesn’t get to run the point. When harden is in, it’s 5050 and when Canaan is in they put Lin at SG and have him defer pg duties to a rookie playing his first meaningful minutes. And they try to kill his confidence since he got there last year. Real scumbag coach and org.

    • Philip Poon

      That’s because neither Beverly nor Canaan can play SG.

      • mma_ko

        Then play a traditional starter and bench arrangement. Bev and Harden in the starting unit,. Lin and Garcia for the 2nd unit. Canaan comes in only when one of the PGs is in foul trouble. This whacked substitution pattern of McHale’s is stupid.

  • Fengster

    Something is really a missed with this article. Lin does not play PG! How is that whenever I read an article, they always seem to point out Lin playing the PG role and in fact, he’s a SG. Even when Harden is out, Lin is still SG, Parson, Canaan, Hamilton and sometimes TJ plays PG. Lin is NEVER the PG. That is a role Rox has forgotten that Lin excel in but been put to rest. I wonder if we are on the same page with this season. If Rox truly wants to compete and mcFail got the menicus injury requiring major surgery, the assistant (not Sampson, thank goodness) will make use of Lin as PG, Harden SG. Rox will be dangerous. This will not happened but one can only dream. PLEASE Stop referring Lin as PG anymore, it really make me think if you are writing for the sake of writing and throwing JLIN in for conversation or clicks.

  • westseadoc

    The biggest obstacle to the Rockets winning with Lin is still Harden. Off the bench, Lin has played less frequently with Harden as a tandem and more as either running the point for the 2nd team or with Beverly as a triple guard option. Harden scores a lot of points but why doesn’t the coaching staff realize that so many of those points are on free throws, which means that he was driving to make his own shot, sometimes drawing the foul, but seldom with making a pass first option play and involving the rest of the team. It would be an interesting series for McHale to allow Lin to run the point with the first team WITHOUT Harden in the lineup and see if that affects ball movement or not, esp with Howard playing. The author ignores the affect on the team that Howard’s absence makes. Not only does Howard offer another offensive option but he is a major defender in the paint AND (often overlooked); he is an option for Harden to pass the ball, knowing that Howard is not only a viable option but one that management DEMANDS gets the ball inside frequently. It is the one teammate that Harden cannot ignore without suffering a consequence from management and even McFail. I believe that Jeremy will not perform that well without Beverly while Harden maintains the same position in the offense, not only shooting but in handling the ball as a PG, something that he does poorly as he is a shoot first guard and not a pass first as is Jeremy. Mark my words, JLin will go elsewhere someday and will prove Houston blew a chance to really makes its offense hum by catering to a prima dona like Harden (who is, admittedly, a scoring machine but at the expense of team play.

    • keekles

      You lost me at “allow Lin to run the first team without Harden” and then you got 8 upvotes. Jesus christ, are you Lin fans seriously as retarded as people like to pretend? How can you not see that the Rockets’ success depends on Harden? I mean, seriously, how can you honestly believe that if Lin replaced Harden in his role on the team, the Rockets could expect better results? You are fucking nuts and you don’t watch or understand basketball. Harden is also the most adept passer/court aware player on the team… I could sit here and cite stats but you are probably one of those people who are completely oblivious to stats.

      • westseadoc

        You misunderstood my post. What I meant is that the article’s question is inherently erroneous. The offense does not run through Lin, as it stands right now, and Jeremy’s last two performances were disappointing. Harden is the real deal and running the 1st team “without Harden” would more be a reasonable experiment, against the right team, in order to see how well the team performs when ball movement and general team involvement is required. If the team does better, then the O would do better with the offensive flow being directed by the PG and not Harden. The first option for offense would, naturally, likely be Harden and you notice that when JLin had the ball more against the Thunder, it often looked to involve Harden. My point is that with Harden playing the point from SG position, the offensive flow becomes sluggish. Even McHale said as much two games ago, but he won’t rein Harden in to improve ball movement. … and you are incorrect if you believe that Harden is the most adept passer/court aware player on the team. He is competent but he is not the best. He is a scorer and the best one on the team, too; therefore, he looks for his shot 1st and passes 2nd. In fact, two major bonehead plays that Lin made against the Thunder was looking for his shot on the drive and ignoring open perimeter players while he was being faced by Ibaka. I think JLin needs more time running the O to remind him of his greatest strengths. As far as stats, they don’t always tell the full story and stats are altered simply by how a team plays with or off the ball… sort of a Heisenberg Principle at play and Harden’s shooting percentage isn’t all that great, anyway; be he does score and get the ball into the hoop so he’s one player that the D has to monitor whenever he is on the floor; which is why he is likely to be very effective playing off the ball .. the entire Rockets team looks for him to get his shot. It’s more that they are increasingly involved when H does not hold and hold and hold the ball. I didn’t think Lin ought to replace Harden, more that it would be instructive to observe the flow of the team with Lin running the O without Harden. In particular, it seems that the small lineup with one big presence seems to be an evolving offensive attack in the NBA, which means Lin, Harden, and Beverly on the floor together a lot is a viable option. However, McHale has to find some way to build confidence in JLin for him to play aggressive but under control and loose enough to afford not dwelling or being punished for singular mistakes.

  • PPP

    The rockets can win with Lin, but the problem is they tried very hard to win without Lin.

  • Ido Amir

    How do you get the MATH wrong?

    Lin has shot 34% from the field (17/50) – NOT 31%… in the last 4 games, and 37.5% from 3 (6/16).

    In the last FIVE, by the way, it’s 37.5% from the field, and 44% from 3… So why look at just 4 games, which included a very untypical outlier, where he scored 1-9?

    Source: http://stats.nba.com/playerGameLogs.html?PlayerID=202391&pageNo=1&rowsPerPage=25

    How come in Jeremy Lin’s case, people distort reality / factual numbers? Is it so important to make him look bad?

    • keekles

      So, in the last 5 games (including against OKC) Jeremy Lin is averaging 36.4% from 3 and 32.8% FG. He is 8-22 from 3p, 8/22 is .3636 = 36.4%. As for FG%, 20-51, 20/61 = .3278 = 32.8%. Such a discrepancy would seem to imply inconsistency compared to his numbers when you subtract the most recent OKC game and add the Cavs game, no? I think that is the main contention. And what is it that you’re trying to prove? I believe most people simply don’t agree that Jeremy Lin is worth his contract, not that he doesn’t belong in the NBA.

      • westseadoc

        Jeremy would be worth his contract if it weren’t structured as a poison pill for NY during the original negotiations. That is on Management/Ownership. Jeremy is probably worth around 5 to 7 mil per year in line with average NBA point guards (not elite ones). I think he can morph into an elite guard but that is at least a year away and he has to learn how to do that when a coach gives him the ball and says “Do whatever you want. You have a long leash for now.” Experience is still a major determinant to game performance, esp playoffs. I’m worried that Lin’s shot hasn’t been a there in the past 2-3 games as it was earlier this year and his 3 point shooting has to get back to an earlier version to be effective.

  • khyberjones

    Lin has played two good, aggressive games against Brooklyn and Toronto after a bad one against the Clippers. If he keeps playing that way the Rockets will be in very good shape. Their problems right now have to do with defense against small forwards/power forwards, and a lack of offensive punch at the #4/#5 with Jones and Howard out. They’ve also run into teams that can defend James Harden and make him less efficient. Lin is a guy who can average 17 pts, 7 assists and shoot 45% or better from the field. Those are top 10 numbers for a PG, so that’s really not Houston’s issue. In fact, he is an upgrade over Beverley.

    They are missing a backup PG right now which is hurting them because Isaiah Canaan is not ready. The Houston fan base is blinded by their personal issues with Lin (which range from anger over his contract to the fact that he is not yet the 2014 version of Goran Dragic or Kyle Lowry (though both of those players played better after leaving Houston and Lin’s numbers are actually comparable to their Houston stints), or that Lin has a lot of Asian fans (Rockets fans seem to have a lot of problems with the number of Asian fans who support Lin…they’re obsessed with the idea that there are fans who watch their team just to watch Jeremy…even though the Rockets previously had Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler and Scottie Pippen who each drew fans to Houston from other regions)).

    • westseadoc

      I suppose there is some racism involved in the partisanship of fans with Lin and he is being held to a higher standard than other PGs in his position (as 6th man). They aren’t unbiased enough to see that Jeremy’s performance has a lot to do with how he is handled and coached, which is why Lowry and Goran have fared better elsewhere. This is either a “square peg in a round hole” problem or a fail on the part of McHale, which I most suspect. McHale doesn’t have faith that JLin will develop adequately over the next year or two and that lack of confidence translates into a poorer performance on the part of Lin, who isn’t given much chance to play without having to worry about getting the hook quickly. This is a coaching issue and it is pretty obvious that McHale has an anti-Lin bias for what ever reason.

  • Houstonrocketfan

    The health condition will be the main issue. If Jeremy Lin is healthy, no injury; Jeremy Lin will be a great help.

  • Kub Yaj

    Not bad for someone who wasn’t even drafted!

  • busherbee

    Lin only works well in a team-oriented full-court scheme. At this point, he’s going to waste away his potential in Houston. McHale has made his job to advance the ball, then go sit in the corner and predictably wait for an outlet pass of last resort. If he wants to show anything, he should ignore McHale’s coaching, at least on the bench, he won’t get injured for his next team.

    • keekles

      You don’t watch the games and that is clear. Lin drives to the basket all the time. He is just too inconsistent to justify his salary. No one would be complaining about Lin if he were making $1.5-2m. The fact is that Harden is the Rockets’ golden goose. And there are multiple players on the Rockets who deserve the ball in their hands before Lin. By the way, wasn’t Linsanity predicated upon Lin’s “ability” to take over games as an individual player? So, how does that fit in with a “team oriented full-court scheme”?

      • westseadoc

        I agree, Lin has been too one dimension in that past couple of games. Teams are looking for him to drive and then sagging in to smother that, leaving him hung up in the paint or worse, mid air, making him for the ball. He has to improve his 3 for that. That being said, I think if Lin were more the Point with the mandate to get the ball to scorers other than himself and drive only if the lane is there or it will open up the perimeter or others when their defender leaves to double team Lin. … and, yes, Linsanity was when JLin took over a game, but it also was predicated on that aspect allowing other players to get open and Lin to find and hit them. Stoudamire’s stats improved as did Novak and “Shump” when Lin was driving and dishing. Right now, he might be attempting too hard to finish his drive (or he has been instructed to) rather than take it if it’s there, if not, find an open man. I don’t quite understand why you belive that others “deserve the ball … before Lin.” Lin should have the ball to start the offense almost every play but his instructions should be to be a pass first option guard, shooting 3 enough to force the D to come to him and take the mid-range jumper to force coverage on him during drives in order to kick the ball to an open teammate. During those “Linsanity” games, Lin did a lot of mid range and 3 point range scoring with a few drives sprinkled in. He’s driving too much now which, I suspect, because he has lost some confidence in his shot … and that is rectifiable but only if McHale helps him achieve it without a major crisis in confidence.

      • busherbee

        Come on. That’s not an intelligent question. But if you must… 1) Mchale calls the shots 2) You can’t score when you’re told to dribble it down the court and pass it to Harden or Howard, then go park in the corner 3) Team oriented means that the ball is distributed and passed around (see Spurs basketball). 4) Full court takes advantage of speed (like the Suns). No, Lin shouldn’t be making that much, but his stats would be way better somewhere else. Blame Morey for the mismatch.

  • plansmaker

    The title should be can Houston count on Kevin McHale doing the right thing in the play-offs?
    McHale aka McFail is called for good reasons…His crazy experiments like twin tower and J Lin as spot up shooter has caused Rockets dearly. Pat Beverly as starting PG is another questionable McFail decision. the list goes on…Can Houston Rockets count on Kevin McHale?