Jeremy Lin showed Houston in one game that he was worth the money as they got a glimpse of Linsanity on Monday night in a thrilling overtime loss against the San Antonio Spurs. He tied his career-high of 38 points in that contest.
Also of note? James Harden didn’t play in that game.
It seems funny that Jeremy Lin seems to become this phenomenal player when the best player of that team is not playing. Basically, Lin excels when he has the ball in his hands. He’s not a ballhog, per se, but he just seems very comfortable with the ball rather than off the ball.
Lin did not excel when Anthony returned last season, but Harden is very different from Anthony. Anthony is among the NBA’s elite one-on-one scorers. Harden is better within the offense than when used in isolation, especially since the move to the Rockets. Anthony is an outstanding low-post scorer, which puts defenders in the lane and in position to contest Lin’s drives. Harden is best when handling in pick-and-roll. And Anthony is much less of a playmaker, averaging two assists this season to Harden’s 5.6.
“I think we’re both unselfish basketball players,” Harden said. “That’s going to make it easy.”
Harden does initiate offense, taking away touches from the Rockets’ point guards, but the Rockets have so many possessions per game, easily the most in the league, that there are more than enough chances for Lin to run the offense as he did when Harden was out Monday.
It took a while for some players to gel. We criticized Miami for not being able to get LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in sync but the Heat won the title in their second year together. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant need the ball to be effective but they’ve managed to get that to work and they made the Finals last year. Let’s give these Houston young guns some time; they’ve only played for about 20 games together. It’s certainly an encouraging sign that Lin, who hasn’t had a very good season, can still put up Linsanity numbers. We certainly know what Harden is capable of. Let’s be patient with these Rockets.
The Rockets play the Wizards at home later on tonight.