I’ve been taking a little break from watching Rockets games, partly because I just haven’t had the time, but also because I was a little tired of being frustrated with McHale’s mishandling of a talented group of guys–especially Lin. The way I look at being a Lin fan is that it’s a marathon, not a race. I plan on being at this for the duration of Lin’s career. During that time, Lin will be with different teams, coaches and teammates, so there will be new issues to dissect and triumphs to celebrate. So there’s no need to burn out complaining about the same things over and over. This doesn’t mean, however, that I’m done complaining about McHale’s mishandling of Lin. But it’s the reason why I thought it was healthy to just take a little break and use the time I normally devote to watching the games to doing other things, like binge watching Netflix, for example. Ha ha. (I FINALLY got around to watching “The Walking Dead”–went through three seasons in short order.)
Anyway, I did manage to catch the second half of the Celtics game. I meant to catch the whole game, but I thought the game started later than it actually did. So I tuned in an hour late. Lin ended with 9 assists, and from the game highlights, they showed three alley-oops from Lin to Howard. This is something I expected to see before the season even started and is why I made the bold prediction that Lin would average 8 assists this season. But, of course, I made a few caveats to this prediction. One of the caveats involved Lin playing with Howard and this hasn’t turned out to be the case. In fact, Lin doesn’t even get to practice with Howard (although he probably does now that Beverley is injured).
I don’t know what went on in the first half, but what I saw in the second half was Lin being the primary ball handler and Harden playing off the ball and playing within the flow of the offense. When this happens, the Rockets run smoothly and end up with nearly every player (six) in double figures, except Brewer (who played less than 5 minutes), Brooks and Garcia.
Last night’s game was a total team effort centered around Howard with Lin as the floor general. I’m not saying that this is the way it has to be for every game, but this should be the identity of the Rockets. If you center your offence through Lin and Howard, you get everyone involved, because Howard also has the capability to facilitate (although he hasn’t shown enough of this with Houston). You also give Harden a chance to save his energy so he can put out more of an effort on the defensive end–something he promised he’d focus on and actually did follow through with during pre-season and in the beginning of the season. But Harden has reverted back to just being a pure scorer.
I didn’t catch the Wizards game, but from the Box Score, it looks like Lin also played well and acted as the primary floor general with eight assists and attacked aggressively. So for two games in a row, McHale has let Lin be the primary ball handler. It’s probably too optimistic to say that this is a turning point. Lets just wait and see if this trend continues. And it’ll be interesting to see what happens when Beverley returns. That will be, yet, another chance for McHale to admit his mistake of not starting Lin. Although Lin coming off the bench and winning the Sixth Man award would be a great thing for Lin–even though it would be a mistake for the Rockets.
Lin and the Rockets have a big test in the next several games facing OKC and the Blazers. Lets see if Lin continues to be the primary playmaker against some of the best teams in the NBA.