What a return by Jeremy Lin! He not only brought a little Linsanity in the fourth quarter, he displayed excellent passing, court vision and defense throughout the game. Also, Lin’s chemistry with Davis continues. He had at least three assists to Ed Davis, including an alley-oop. I was very impressed with Lin tonight. Easily his best game as a Laker.
I wasn’t sure what to expect out of Lin, since he has been out for a little while and didn’t have a chance to scrimmage before the game. But Lin played in control from the get-go, tonight. I was very happy with Lin even before he went off offensively in the fourth quarter. He kept Thomas in front of him and that’s a very difficult thing to do with a mouse like Thomas, who stands at 5’9″. For example, there was one possession that stuck out in which Kobe had to guard Thomas and Thomas easily blew by Kobe. Thomas did this to a lot of guys on the team, except Lin. Lin was able to keep Thomas in front of him very consistently. So I was impressed by that. There’s been some talk about Price being the better defender, but I didn’t see that tonight. Price got blown by consistently by all of the Suns guards tonight. He was definitely not a defensive stopper tonight. While Lin, once again, playing smart, solid, fundamental, non-flashy defense, was very effective at keeping things under control defensively.
Even before Lin went off in the 4th, his passes were beautiful to watch all night. He had a number of blown assists in the game–especially in the first half, where he would feed it to his teammates in perfect positions, but they would either make an unnecessary extra pass or they’d lose the ball or miss an easy shot. But Lin definitely made things easy on his teammates with his passing tonight. His teammates need to do a better job of converting on those opportunities that Lin is feeding them.
The 4th quarter was definitely exciting to watch. Lin got the fans into the game and they even chanted M-V-P when he was on the line. I was happy to see Lin hitting a three and long jumpers. Lin led the team with a +12 and Davis was a close second with a +10. After that, the next player was Randle with a +2. +/- aren’t always reliable, but tonight, they definitely told the story. Lin fouled out in the last minute or so of the 4th quarter (perhaps the key reason why Thomas was free to collect a loose ball and tie the game to bring it into overtime) and finished with a nice stat line. He played about 24 minutes and had 15 points, 3 of 5 from the field (1 of 3 from three-point), 5 assists, 2 steals, 4 rebounds and zero turnovers. But the stat I really love to see is 8-10 shooting from the free throw line. This shows me that he was being aggressive. During Linsanity, Lin was one of the leaders in drawing fouls. So that’s what I want to see him bring back into his game again. And was very happy to see that tonight.
Ed Davis has been excellent in EVERY SINGLE game so far. He has earned a starting role, or at least he should earn 30+ minutes a night. I don’t know why the Lakers coaching staff refuse to see this. If Ed Davis doesn’t play a lot of minutes this season and still continues to do what he does, I’m gonna raise hell. He’s so efficient and he brings so much energy and is a fierce rim protector. He also knows how to roll to the basket.
The thing is, Jordan Hill is also very good. Hill does an excellent job of playing within himself. He’s not flashy, but gets the job done and he can also play inside better than I thought he could. At least he showed it tonight.
There was one part of the game where Hill had to sit, because he got hit in the mouth and we got to see the lineup that I want: Ed Davis (and Lin) with the rest of the starting lineup (Bryant, Boozer and Johnson). That lineup was excellent, I thought. In fact, Ed Davis got to stay on the court until very late in the 4th quarter. I just hope Davis gets to finish a lot of games, because we need that type of energy in crunch time when there tends to be a lot of loose balls. For example, if Ed Davis had been in the lineup, I don’t think Thomas would have gotten that loose ball to tie the game up and bring it into overtime. I really wanted Scott to keep Davis out there until the end, but he brought Hill back. I think that was a mistake. And it’s going to be a mistake that I’ll see over and over again during the season, I suspect. Oh well. All I can do is continue my campaign for Ed Davis and whatever happens, happens.
On another note, isn’t it nice listening to commentators who actually know what they’re talking about? The Lakers commentators remind me a lot of the Knicks commentators. They’re very fair to the other team. They aren’t just homers. They actually call it like it is and don’t favor the Lakers on every call. It’s nice listening to commentators who are fair. One Lakers commentator in particular, I think it’s Stu, is really pro Lin. I really noticed it right when Lin stepped on the court. He couldn’t stop saying positive things about Lin, pretty much the moment Lin stepped on the court. He pointed out the positives in everything that Lin did. In the fourth quarter, everyone was pro Lin, so it wasn’t as noticeable.
Kobe had a really quite first half, but came out firing in the 3rd quarter and continued to fire in crunch time, hitting three shots in a row. That was great to see, because he’s been struggling from the field as of late. So it’s good to see Kobe nailing clutch shots out there. Before Kobe got back on the court in the 4th, Lin was the one dominating, making 11 of the Lakers 15 points halfway through the 4th. So the fans got a taste of Linsanity and The Black Mamba, two crowd pleasers. Those two made tonight’s preaseason game feel like an exciting regular season game. For a minute, I forgo that tonight’s game didn’t count. Scott did the wise thing, though, to pull Bryant out during overtime. No need to wear Kobe out in preseason. Lakers showed some good things tonight and that was enough.
Offensively, the Lakers still look loss if it wasn’t for Lin and Bryant. So that’s something they’ll either need to work on or they need to scrap everything and just feast on Lin pick-and-rolls and Kobe post ups and just run a couple of simple plays. I think trying to learn too many offensive sets is too much for this group, who are still trying to get used to one another. Also, if Scott wants to really focus on defense, it might be a little much to try and introduce offensive sets, while making defense a point of emphasis. I say just keep things simple and give Lin screens and let the man do his magic! Same thing with Kobe and posting Kobe up. Lin PnRs and Kobe post-ups are more than what you need to for an effective offense.
Side note: Randle tried to do too much out there tonight. Trying to play make more than he needs to. This is something I’ve pointed out could become a concern for Randle. I think he likes to show off his playmaking skills and tends to go overboard with it. Doing it to show off rather than help the team. There was one play in transition where he tried a tough pass in traffic to Johnson, which resulted in an inevitable turnover, when he had Lin wide open at the three point line. I saw Lin talking to Randle after that play and told Randle that he was wide open. So Randle still needs to work on not trying to not overdue it in the play making department–especially when they already have a play maker on the floor.