Jeremy Lin Shines Under Pressure in China: Hornets vs. Clippers

This preseason exhibition in China vs. Clippers is not just another preseason game for Jeremy Lin. He admitted as much in one of his interviews after practice. In a sold-out crowd, where all eyes were on Lin, there was a lot of pressure to give the crowd their money’s worth. And Jeremy Lin did not disappoint. Lin finished with 16 points (he had 10 points in his first 12 minutes on the floor) on 6 of 12 shooting with 4 assists. He and Zeller lead the Hornets in scoring and Lin lead the team in +/- with a +23. Hornets had seven players in double-digits!

Before I get to Lin’s performance, I just want to say that I’m liking the contrast between the no fucks given bowl cut look (which I can’t stand, by the way) on non-game nights and the no fucks given Super Saiyan Mohawk (which I love) on game nights. All kidding aside, wearing the hair differently on game nights I think does get his mind psychologically ready to compete. It’s like how warriors put on war paint when they’re getting ready for battle. I was really hoping that he’d spike up his hair tonight like he did during media day, so was glad to see it. Hope he continues this ritual.

What impressed me tonight was not just Lin’s stats. It was his controlled aggression. Pretty much every time he had the ball in his hands, he was looking to make something happen, yet he wasn’t forcing anything. He didn’t waste any possessions. He was also playing very fast, but under control and injected the team with lots of energy when he was out there. +/- is not always a good indication of a player’s effectiveness, but for Jeremy Lin tonight, it was very telling. He definitely was a big factor in the Hornets taking care of business (106-94 win) against a very talented Clippers squad (albeit without their main guy Chris Paul).

Lin didn’t waste anytime going to work tonight. He immediately got back-to-back points the moment he stepped on the court. Lin didn’t start tonight, but he did finish with the most minutes on the team with 27:44 minutes played. I’m sure part of this has to do with pleasing the crowd, but I think Clifford is really trying to test Lin out in different situations, because he wants to see whether or not it’s a good idea to start Lin or if Lin is needed more with the second unit. I think Coach Cliff is still conflicted. But if Brian Roberts continues to surprise like he has been, then Lin’s probability of starting increases.

The big concern with Roberts is that he needs to show that he can be a distributor. So far, he’s looking more like an undersized shooting guard that’s a very good ball handler, but not so much a willing passer, who can make plays for others. Not knowing Roberts’s game, I’m guessing that he’s ball hogging, because he feels pressured to prove himself in the preseason to earn more playing time, because I think he does have passing abilities. He’s just choosing to hog the ball to prove himself and so far, I think it’s working for him. I’m hoping that Coach Cliff feels comfortable enough with Roberts running the second unit that he’ll start Lin. We’ll see. The only thing is, I like the chemistry that Lin has with Hawes and Zeller, who are also very unselfish players. So if Lin starts, he’ll have less time with Hawes and Zeller. But that’s not too big of a deal. I’m sure Lin can develop chemistry with the starters, as long as they play unselfishly. We’ll see.

One thing I’ve been noticing from watching Lin’s clips during practice and in this game is that Lin’s shooting stroke has improved. It’s smoother and he is actually looking to shoot now, rather than being hesitant to shoot. I hear that Lin tweaked his shooting motion slightly during this off-season, so I think he’s feeling much more confident with his stroke. Tonight, Lin didn’t hesitate to shoot the ball and, early on, he was 5 for 6 from the field. I hope his confidence with his shooting continues. If so, Lin ‘s pretty much unstoppable, because if the defense is up too close, he’ll blaze by the defense and if they give him room, he’ll shoot the ball. Lin had a play tonight that reminded me a little of the famous Raptors game during Linsanity. There was a little over 24 seconds left in the 3rd quarter and Lin dribbled out the clock and nailed a dagger beyond the arc with seconds left on the shot clock. Lin was very confident tonight and that shot was emblematic of it!

The other thing I really like about Lin tonight is that he was in control the entire time. This is an aspect of his game that he has really continued to develop. He’s able to keep his dribble alive and wait for a play to set up, rather than force situations. He did that a lot tonight when he was playing PG, which wasn’t as often as he should have been. Would dribble through the lane, looping behind the basket, trying to see if something would set up, while keeping his dribble alive. This is something that would have earned him a seat on the bench in Houston, so I’m glad Lin feels free enough to do this here. This is something that he did during Linsanity and is something that a lot of great point guards, such as Chris Paul and Steve Nash, do regularly. I have a feeling we’re going to see Lin do a lot of this this season, which is a sign that Lin is allowed to play his game with the Hornets.

I’m hoping that Coach Cliff is letting Brian Roberts handle the ball a lot during the preseason to see whether or not Roberts can handle being the primary PG for the second unit so he can start Lin. We’ll see. But if Lin continues to be a backup shooting guard, I would NOT be cool with that. Walker and Lin should be the primary ball handlers for this team–especially if Lin is not going to start!

Here’s the most comprehensive highlight reel I’ve found of the game (Note: it’s in Mandarin):

My favorite play of the night was on a broken play where Lin faked shooting a three only to pass it to Hawes down low, who immediately did a wrap-around pass to Williams for an easy bucket (at 4:00 market of above video). I love the unselfishness of that play on the part of Hawes. Hawes was near the basket and could have tried to score himself, but by making the extra pass, he made it an easy bucket for the Hornets and that’s what team ball is all about. Making the extra pass. Another great example of sharing the ball last night involved Lin, Hawes and Zeller, who have great chemistry together, because they’re all unselfish players. The play occurred in the middle of the fourth quarter, when Lin dished it to Zeller down low, then Zeller immediately passed it to a cutting Hawes, who immediately gave it back to Zeller for an easy dunk.

Hawes didn’t have a good shooting night (4 of 14), but he was effective tonight, grabbing 13 rebounds and did a lot of the little things that don’t go on the stat sheet. I felt like he knew where to be on the court and helped spacing and setting screens, etc. Also, although he did attempt the most field goals (which is surprising to me), I thought he played unselfishly. Cody Zeller was the other star of the night for me, going 6 for 6 from the field and finishing with 16 points, which ties Lin for the team high. Zeller also had a lot of energy and had good connection with Lin. One of the memorable plays between Lin and Zeller is a no-look pass to Zeller for an easy bucket at the rim. Walker also showed a lot of energy tonight. I think he really wanted to give the Chinese fans a show. He played very aggressively and tried to make things happen whenever he got the ball, just like Lin. He finished with 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting and 5 assists. And, Brian Roberts continues to surprise, finishing with 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting and 4 assists. Lamb started off poorly, but did much better in the second half and finished with 12 points on 4 of 8 shooting and 4 assists. So the guards on the Hornets as a whole are continuing to shine in the preseason.

I don’t know anything about Roberts, but I hope what he’s doing is sustainable, because Hornets really need a solid backup PG, which is what Roberts can be (again, he just needs to work on being more of a distributor). I see Lin and Walker starting as combo guards. And I’m hoping Coach Cliff sees this, as well. Lin is a starter in this league and belongs in the starting lineup. Also, starters have a much better chance of playing big minutes and finishing games. For this Hornets team to have a chance at making the playoffs, they need big minutes from Lin and they need Lin to finish games. So I think the best way for this to happen is for Lin to start. Walker and Lin need to share PG duties on the floor. To me, this is the best solution for the Hornets. We’ll see if Coach Cliff can figure this out.

I’m still expecting Lin to start in the second game in China. If Cliff really wants to see how Lin and Walker play together, then China is the perfect opportunity for him to start Lin and test out this lineup. I think Coach Cliff is a little reluctant, because Lin and Walker haven’t played together in practice and Lin may have more chemistry with the second unit, since he practices with them. I don’t know. My concern is that Cliff will start Lin in the next game in China and Lin has a let down game, causing Cliff to give up on the idea of starting Lin. I just hope Cliff is wise enough not to give up on the idea of starting Lin/Walker after only trying it out once or twice. We’ll see.

About JLintel

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  • pistolpete

    Thanks for the game details philosopher. It’s good to hear Jeremy is playing well!

    • You’re welcome, pistolpete!

  • ashley

    Glad for Lin’s performance! And I enjoyed reading Mr. Philosopher’s review of the game. It would have been perfect had Lin made one or two more baskets in the second half, which I believe must have caused a tiny bit disappointment in Lin.

    Through these three preseason games, we saw LIn playing with more confidence and no more hesitation. It certainly had a lot to do with the trust from the coach as well as a friendlier team devoid of an intimidating, bullying superstar he felt he had to defer to. Needless to say, his off-season training contributed a lot. Just hope the confidence and consistency continues throughout the whole season.

    So far, Lin has been playing the most minutes among the team. So has it been a main goal for the coach to try out Lin with the second unit during the preseason? I wonder if Lin will always play more time than Kemba the starter. (If I were Kemba, I probably wouldn’t be happy that I play less than a backup.) Indeed, now is the best time and place for the coach to try the Kemba-Lin tandem. From what I read in the (Chinese) news, when asked whether Lin can be a starter on the team, the coach said Lin had the potential. Regarding this issue I have a speculation: The coach would like to start Lin, but he might need to get approval from MJ. I suspect the main reason for the manager to outright claim they wanted Lin as a backup right at the beginning was because that was what MJ wanted. They said that and perhaps would just do that to make sure Kemba remains their marquee player and no one could jeopardize that.

    • Thanks, ashley!

      Yeah, Lin said that he was disappointed in his shooting, which is a great thing to hear, because that shows Lin is very confident in his shooting this season. From his comments and seeing how smooth his form is, I KNOW he’ll have his best shooting of his career and probably by quite a bit. I think this will make Lin a star, because he has so many weapons now. Most in the media have no idea how good Jeremy Lin is now. I think if given the proper minutes (e.g., 33+ minutes), he’ll post superstar numbers. IF he gets 33+ minutes a game, Lin will average 19+ points and 7+ assists this season. But it’s still unclear if he’ll get 33+ minutes a game. If he’s a back up, then he won’t. But if he starts, then Lin is likely to get the most amount of minutes on the team, because of his versatility.

      I think you maybe onto something with MJ wanting Lin to be a backup so he doesn’t take the ball out of Walker’s hands. Apparently Walker has MJ’s ear. I read that from a comment in one of the Charlotte Hornets fan sites. But maybe now that Jordan proclaimed that Lin is potentially their biggest signing (due mostly to pleasing the Chinese fan base), MJ may now have incentive to make Lin look good, because he doesn’t want to look bad. Back when the Hornets signed Lin, MJ didn’t anticipate that he would have to make that comment about Lin being potentially their biggest signing. So back then, I think MJ wanted to keep Lin as a back up. But now that that comment is out there (regardless of whether or not MJ really believes in that comment he made), MJ hates to look bad. So maybe now MJ may give permission to start Lin. That is, if your speculation that MJ has been the holdup is correct. We’ll see. It’s definitely plausible.

      I think what would keep Lin from starting is how well he plays with Zeller. So far, it looks like those two have great chemistry so Cliff is going to want to keep them together. My view is that BOTH Lin and Zeller should start, since Zeller has been stellar (haha) throughout the preseason. Zeller has yet to miss a shot in the preseason and has been showing his ability to shoot the ball, which is something he worked hard on in the off-season. But it looks like Cliff is pretty intent on starting Marvin Williams. We’ll see how it all shakes out soon enough. In the meantime, at least it’s been an enjoyable ride. This Hornets team is a lot of fun to watch and from what the players, including Jeremy Lin and Big Al are saying, they’re a bunch of really great, high-character teams. These are the types of teams I like rooting for. Very similar to the Spurs. I think with Jeremy Lin leading the way, the Hornets can be the Spurs of the West, since Lin embodies the Spurs way (I’ve said this many times in the past).

      • MrPingPong

        Our wish is Cliff’s command: it’s all over the Internet that Lin with start at the 2 and Zeller the Stellar will start at 4 in Shanghai! And CP3 is back to practicing and will most likely play as well. It’s gonna be fun!

        On a separate note, I think you meant the Hornets can be the Spurs of the East (and not the West), right Philosopher? 😉

        • Thanks for catching the typo, MrPingPong. Yep, I meant Hornets can be Spurs of the East.

  • MrPingPong

    Thanks for the postgame analysis, Philosopher. Insightful as usual!

    I was on the road and missed the game. A shout out to Christinecheng60 for her 9.5 min highlight of the game. Dragon was spilled… Ah… those “near” assists that Lin’s teammates failed to finish for Lin. Lin will gel with the team as the preseason and season wear on. Lin will make his teammates look good if they buy into his game. That I am always sure.

    Yes, Lin is on his war path with his spiky Super Saiyan faux hawk. It is quite amusing to read about Lin’s hairdo all over the Internet! Behind the scene he is in Super Saiyan God mode already 🙂

    Our man is having fun!

    More seriously though, Lin knows his weaknesses and works hard to overcome them. Here is a rare look at Lin working on his floaters with his right and left and missing a lot:

    Next stop and victory: Shanghai!

    Have a great day/evening everyone, wherever you are on the WEB! 🙂

    • You’re welcome, MrPingPong, as usual and thanks for the links!

  • Chirico

    Thanks for the great analysis, Philosopher. Your prediction about JLin starting is going to happen, according to a Chinese media.
    Both Zeller the stellar and our man JLin will be starting in Shanghai game.

    JLin is simply a starter material while we know there are doubters spreading false opinion and magnifying his deficiency so followed by zombie media have been keeping pumping out messages in hope to dismiss JLin from NBA.

    Face the reality.

    The first ever NBA international exhibition game in shenzhen, China symbolized a shift in the wind in bball history. Not only NBA started to explore overseas market but also acknowledged the potential growth of such market with JLin. it’s like a perfect setting for JLin to sparks the fire with his spiky hair. how many times that we have MJ, NBA commissioner, Sliver, Mike d Antoni, and a few NBA HOFer in a preseason game? Yes, it a business potential some would argue, but guess what, the big star (MJ of course)player in the game was a BACKUP player with spiky hair called Jeremy Lin. And we knew his performance was stellar.

    Amazing, awkward, exciting? Yup, that is right when new things are coming at you.

    • You’re welcome, Chirico!

      I’m glad that Coach Cliff is doing the right thing and testing out the starting lineup with Lin and Zeller. I expect him to continue to experiment with different lineups, but I just hope he doesn’t give up if the Hornets get destroyed by the Clippers in Game 2.

      I expect the Hornets to lose game 2 for a few reasons. I think, even though this is pre-season, Doc Rivers is pissed that they sort of got embarrassed in front of a big audience in Game 1. I don’t think the Clippers were prepaired for the Hornets in Game 1, so I think Doc is out for revenge and will be treating this game more than just another pre-season game. I think he wants to win. He’s out for blood. Meanwhile, I think the Hornets are pretty content with how they’re doing and it is natural at this stage to be complacent and just go through the motions in Game 2. I think they’re all just looking forward to going back home and just want to get this Game 2 over with. All this is happening subconsciously behind the surface. As a result, I don’t think the Hornets will bring as much energy as they did in Game 2.

      So, essentially, I think Lin and Zeller are set up to fail, although I don’t think that’s Cliff’s intention. I just hope that he won’t give up the idea of potentially starting Lin/Zeller if the Hornets get destroyed in Game 2, which is sort of what I’m expecting.

      I’d be shocked if the Hornets win Game 2 (due to Hornets being complacent and Clippers being out for blood). But IF the Hornets manage to win Game 2, that is a big statement to me about how good this team is talent-wise and mentally.

      • Chirico

        I see what you are predicting. Philosopher. This game in Shanghai is going to be quite challenging to Hornets. I hope you are not active in sports gambling, otherwise you are going to upset a lot of people.
        Just look at the bright side, if both Zeller and Lin prevail then there will be a higher chance they may start more in regular season games.

        Quote from Greg at Sportige.
        This tells it all why JLin is the vital piece of the puzzle that Hornets needs to solve.

        “Batum was the high profile signing for the Hornets, but Lin is the real game changer. Because while it might be difficult fitting him in at times without “insulting” Walker, he’s the best playmaker the Hornets have. ”

      • MrPingPong

        I get what you are saying, Philosopher. But having survived BS and the Tankers, this is nothing for Lin SSJ. Doc River and the Clips are out for blood for sure, but when Dragon blood is spilled, they are doomed! 😉

        Be in for a shock tonight (or this morning)! Lin and Zeller the Stellar will boss!

        Enjoy the game wherever you are on this WEB!


  • MrPingPong

    I hope MJ starts to believe in his own words about Lin. 😉
    From what I’ve read on the various Hornets fan sites, the Hornets fans are beginning to realize how good Lin is.
    Now back to the USA and get ready for the Knicks.
    Jim Dolan is gonna look silly again! 😉
    Have a great day/night everybody. wherever you are on this WEB!

    • Chirico

      Hornets played well this mornings against LA clippers game 2 in Shanghai.

      42 pts difference win! That’s how embarrassing Clippers were.

      JLin, who scored the first 10 points for the Hornets, played well as with rest of the team. He got into faul trouble early on so it limited his minutes but that was fine due to the fact that bench player performed well as well. M Williams, hansbrough, and Roberts scored double digits from bench.

      In late 3rd qtr, the game was over.