Lin Prevents Harden from Losing Game 3 vs. Blazers

So I haven’t watched any Rockets games for a while now, but have started watching them again now the that playoffs are under way. The biggest thing I notice is that Lin’s role has been even more diminished by McHale. It may not be as noticeable if you’ve been watching the Rockets consistently, but since I took a break, Lin’s continuous demotion has become even more evident to me. It’s crazy how he barely gets to handle the ball and he only gets to do anything when things get broken up or in transition. However, I have noticed that Lin takes it upon himself to be aggressive and play his game as much as he can, without getting caught by McHale when it really matters late in the fourth quarter and in overtime. He has done this in all three games, including in tonight’s game. Lin could have won game 1 in overtime, if McHale had any trust in Lin, instead of keep going back to Harden Hero Balling. In Game 4, Lin had “the look”, then McHale took Lin out when McHale noticed Lin trying to score, rather than automatically dumping the ball to Harden and Howard.

The Rockets have looked awful in the first two games, because they heavily relied on hero balling with the H&H boys. There’s been absolutely no ball movement. Just isos and post ups. They have all but stopped doing any pick and rolls, which, to me is completely idiotic, since they have three of the best Pick and Roll players on their team (Lin, Howard and Harden). Only McHale can be blinded by something so blindingly obvious.

In Game 3, McHale wised up and went back to more of team basketball, although, it still wasn’t anywhere near what this team is capable of. And late in the fourth quarter and overtime, they went back to relying heavily on the H&H boys. It was almost comical how nearly every time they relied on the H&H boys, things would go wrong. Lin really took it upon himself, as he did in games 1 and 2, during crunch time to will a win for the Rockets. He had “the look” again tonight late in the fourth and in overtime. He knows that McHale’s H&H strategy continues to fail and he does whatever he can to slip under McHale’s radar and sneaks in playing the way Lin knows how to play. Because Parsons fouled out, McHale had no choice but to keep Lin in the game tonight, rather than yank Lin out, like he did in Game 2. Although Lin missed the layup that ended up giving Batum the three to send the game into overtime, Lin made the right play. Nearly every time, when Lin was involved good things happened for the Rockets in Game 3 in crunch time. I do have to say, though, that Lin made a couple of very very uncharacteristic boneheaded mistakes in Game 2. One was fouling Lillard intentionally when the Rockets didn’t need a foul and the other was not taking an open three when the Rockets desperately needed a three.

Getting back to Game 3. I think the Rockets players started realizing that whenever Lin was controlling the offense good things would happen. So Lin got to actually be the floor general during crunch time and that’s the reason the Rockets won. Of course, they kept going back to the H&H boys, even though bad things happened nearly every time they did that.

Many fans will argue that Harden had a fantastic game, because he scored 37 points and grabbed 9 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. I would argue that Harden scored 37 points very inefficiently (shooting 13-35 and 3 for 11 from three-point). His points came at the expense of so may other Rockets players and he actually hurt the Rockets more than helped the Rockets tonight. And in the last seconds, Harden prevented the Rockets from winning in overtime, by doing one of his many unnecessary isos that lost the ball and could have turned into an easy fast break for the Rockets if it weren’t for Lin’s miraculous save and dish to Daniels for the game winning shot. I don’t know how Lin managed to get the ball back on that play. It looked for sure like Portland would run away with the ball. But somehow, Lin willed the ball back into Houston’s possession.

I have to admit, I was cheering for the Blazers tonight. I was going for a sweep to really drive home the point that McHale has no business coaching and I also like the way the Blazers play. They seem like a good group of guys. Guys worthy of rooting for. But Lin made it hard for me to continue to cheer for the Blazers down the stretch, because he kept making big plays. So I was pretty conflicted in the end, but happy that Lin was a key factor in the Rockets winning the game. He would have been a key factor in the Rockets wining games 1 and 2 as well, if it weren’t for McHale.

I’ll remain conflicted throughout this series, because I don’t see Lin being a part of this team the way he should be. So Rockets losing has nothing to do with him. In fact, Rockets losing is an indictment on McHale’s misuse of Lin. At this point, I’m already just looking ahead and hoping Lin gets traded or they bring in a coach who will use Lin the right way. Lin needs to use the off-season to shake off McHale’s brain washing and get back to playing the way he knows how to play. I feel like his confidence is almost completely drained out of him. He doesn’t seem like the same guy to me anymore, except during crunch time. I don’t think he feels like he has the right to play aggressively anymore, unless he feels the game slipping away and the H&H boys can’t get it going. Lin can’t change this mindset during the playoffs, but I’m hoping that he’ll figure out a way to get out of this mindset (i.e., like he’s some second-class citizen) during the off-season.

At this point, I don’t really care about what happens in this series now that there’s no possibility of a sweep. Just still rooting for Lin and just watching the game pretty much objectively, which isn’t the funnest way to watch games. Hence, one of the many reasons why I stopped watching Rockets games. Hope you all enjoyed Game 3!

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  • Jeff

    “In Game 4, Lin had β€œthe look”, then McHale took Lin out when McHale noticed Lin trying to score, rather than automatically dumping the ball to Harden and Howard.” You mean game 2?

    • Thanks for the edit, Jeff. Freudian slip on my part. My subconscieous is just anticipating why is likely to happen in game 4.

  • Dude you rule. You should write professionally. Great article.

    • Wow! Thanks ray b! Really appreciate it.

  • ashley

    Mr. Philosopher, It hurts to read “He doesn’t seem like the same guy to me anymore, except during crunch time,” but it’s so true. Seems that Jeremy would only play Linsane when in crunch time; that’s why he it took OT for him to get his double digit. Even in OT, he would almost always give Harden the ball, though Harden didn’t deserve that, with his poor shooting percentage. Harden has set the NBA playoff record of lowest shooting percentage on the most shot attempts. In game 3, he took 1/3 of the team’s total shots and missed 22, the double of Lin’s 11 shot attempts. If the Rockets doesn’t pass the first round, Harden, as well as the coach, is the one to blame.

    By the way, I’m glad for the win–the Rockets did manage to contain Aldridge–by utilizing Asik–and Jeremy did it again! So even Harden sucks, the Rockets could still win. (Mr. Pingpong, your faith and optimism win!) But it was so close, and I feel that I’ve watched this enough.

    From the news (in Chinese), I learned that even the Rockets got swept in the first round, McHale would stay; he’s Les’ favorite choice for head coach.

    • Yes, McHale and Harden are definitely responsible for the Rockets not making it past round 1. I didn’t know Harden set an NBA playoff record fro lowest shooting percentage. What a big change from how he used to play as a sixth man. Harden used to be known as one of the most efficient scorers. Harden has really hurt Rockets team basketball. That’s unfortunate to hear that McHale would remain the coach no matter what. Jeremy really needs to get out of Houston.

      • MrPingPong

        Just finished watching game 4. Lin did not shoot well, made a bad TO at the worst moment, and will be blamed for the loss. Lin was given no chance to run the floor and played insignificant minutes. Blazers played team ball. Rockets did not.

        I hope the Rockets will win the next game at home. But that’s about it. McHale does not trust Lin and there is nothing that will change it.

        Troy Daniels was cool though! πŸ™‚

        Good night/day wherever you are on this WEB!

  • MrPingPong

    Ha, Philosopher, you underestimate your Blazers. See how balanced they are in scoring? Efficient team ball will win in the end. And the Rockets are not playing team ball, not when JL7 is not the floor general. I want to see Lin win and because of that, I root for the Rockets to win. But the only way for the Rockets to come back and win this series is to unleash Lin. Realistically though, that’s not going to happen. So, I will not be surprised if the Rockets lose this series.

    Lin gets little recognition for this game 3 victory, you know. Basketball pundits/non-pundits all focused on how Lin made “bone-headed” mistake by driving to the basket with 54 sec left in the 4th, trying to score and missing the layup. Harden is quoted to have said that Lin “should have run the clock up 3” ( I don’t read Harden’s mind, but I think he meant for Lin to give him the ball so that he can hold it until there is 3 sec left on the shot clock and shoot or pass it to Parson with 0.5 sec left. Sure, I was disappointed by the missed layup but, boy, was I glad to see Lin playing to win. I’d say the chance for Lin to make that layup is at least 90%, don’t you think? How well were Harden and Parson shooting at that point in time, anyone remembers? πŸ™‚ What are the odds for Batum to make a desperation 3 ptr to tie the game? Is it more than 90%? What is Batum 3pt %? Didn’t he miss, trying to tie the game with the exact same shot in OT, after Troy Daniels made his wide-open trey?

    Speaking of TD’s 3ptr to win the game for the Rockets, LOHs are saying that Lin should have passed the ball to Howard or Harden instead. Well, what can I say? Oh man, do I love that Lin half head fake to Howard and his crisp pass to TD. Do you see Dame, who was fronting Howard, jump up in the air and LMA rushing back to cover Howard only to discover that the ball was going in the other direction to TD instead?

    “Poor” TD! He is now a marked man. The Blazers are not going to ignore him on the court any more. Lin detractors are now clamoring for TD. How will TD handle his new found “Linsanity” fame? There are so many Linsane subplots in the Jeremy Lin Story, don’t you think? From the point of view of a delusional LOF (yes, even Ashley thinks I’m delusional), Lin is a team player and Lin makes everyone around him play better. But he will get no recognition from the pundits and non-pundits alike.

    OK, I am just ranting right now. I am currently suffering from flu-like symptoms like Lin was before game 2. It’s a delay reaction after spending hours at the crowded Toyota Center for a disappointing game 2. Who knows what kind of germs are floating around in a crowd of 18 thousand plus who blamed Lin for the loss! πŸ™

    Have a wonderful night/day wherever you are on this WEB!

    • ashley

      Mr. Pingpong, with the win of Game 3, I can be a bit “delusional” now. It seems that the Rockets has figured out the matchup for Aldridge–actually, it’s quite unlikely for him to continue that 40-point hot shooting. Jeremy will at least be used the same way or better–if the urgency of securing the next win finally knocks some sense into the coach’s thick head. And if Harden’s shooting keeps “improving”–or he shoots less–the Rockets might pull out a win. Whether being optimistic or pessimistic fan, deep inside every Lin fan, there’s always a craving for Linsanity. So let’s all hope for the best for Game 4!

  • Jeff

    Are we really “delusional”? I’d like to talk a bit about that. A friend of mine called out my rants and said that Lin has been getting fair treatment and being a LOF can be detrimental to happiness because we’ll “never be satisfied” whether or not Lin plays well. He continued to point out that he is already getting the opportunity he “deserves”. He’s made mistakes and had made big plays. So why complain he asks. Adding to that, he’s still developing and that it’s part of the process, believing that we’re asking for special treatment from the coach and the league.

    Of course I disagreed with all of that. I don’t think any of us think Lin’s on the same level as say LeBron. And following as closely as we’ve had, I believe we are warranted when we think Lin is not getting just treatment from the coach or the media. Who else gets a triple double against a team and then gets less minutes the next day I ask??

    Also, all I hope is for Lin to do well and then get proper reward — which hasn’t happened. But I’m not by any means unhappy. I’m pretty realistic with my expectations too. Although I concede to Ashley’s observation that “deep inside every Lin fan, there’s a craving for Linsanity” lmao.

    Anyways, thoughts?

    • People who think Lin is being treated fairly simply don’t understand Lin’s game. Lin needs to be in a leadership role on a team in order to be successful. Lin is not a role player. That’s just not Lin’s game. Lin is an overall type of player and a floor general. I think it was his college coach that said (I’m paraphrasing here) that his main concern about Lin being in the NBA is that Lin needs to be “the man” in order to succeed. And he doesn’t think Lin will be allowed to be the leader on an NBA team, which will make it difficult for Lin to succeed at the NBA level. People who think Lin is being fairly treated see Lin as just a role player. That’s a mis-assessment of Lin’s game. But apart from Lin not being a leader, Lin has been misused by McHale in so many other ways, which I’ve pointed ad nauseum. So, again, people who think Lin is being treated fairly don’t have a competent level of understanding of Lin’s game. In fact, I can’t name one way in which Lin has been properly used by McHale. That’s how bad Lin has been mis-used. Players need to be used properly in order to succeed. Even superstars fail miserably when misused by coaches. Carmelo Anthony under D’Antoni is just one example.

    • MrPingPong

      Yes, as a LOF, I have a “craving for Linsanity” as Ashley puts it. To me Linsanity is that Feb 4 game against the Nets in 2012. Lin was allowed to be the floor general because D’Antoni had no other choice. I downloaded that game and watched it many times. Lin missed quite a few open shots in that game, he was not perfect, but he kept attacking the basket and shot or passed the ball to the open men. He was not to be denied. That what’s I hope to see again, but by now, I realize it is not going to happen with this Rockets team. Not with McHale at the helm. Lin is being misused completely by McHale. Lin will have a long career in the NBA. So let’s wait and see.

      And to Jeff’s friend, who says that LOFs can “never be satisfied”, I’d say, ‘Oh yes we are very happy because Linsanity is a gift!”. I smile every time I watched the Linsanity games on Youtube. I bet LOHs can’t stand them! Look who is enjoying basketball here? πŸ™‚

      And here are couple video links for that one Jeff’s friend. This one by our Philosopher:

      And this one by some Japanese documentary film maker:

      I bet he doesn’t enjoy them at all. That is his loss! πŸ™‚

    • ashley

      Jeff, I think we are not being delusional about what Lin can do but what Lin can do on this team under this coach. As you mentioned about his reduced playing time after a good game, it happened in game 4 again. After seeing what Lin did in crunch time to save the team several times in the regular season and how well he played in the OT in game 1 and 3, who would’ve thought McHale would play Lin for only one freaking second in the OT in game 4? That made no sense at all. I can only conclude that no matter how well Lin plays, he’ll always be treated like a bench player, whose minutes can be yo-yoed. This perhaps is the harsh reality we fans often fail to see or can come to accept.

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