I don’t have much time to write, but just had to say a few words about this incredible win. It’s the second biggest comeback in Hornets’s history. I think they were down by 22 points or something in the 4th quarter. Lin didn’t play the entire 3rd quarter. The comeback started when Clifford finally realized that the first unit wasn’t getting it done, so he inserted Kaminsky into the game late in the 3rd quarter. Prior to that moment, Kaminsky didn’t play at all in this game. But the moment Kaminsky came onto the floor, the dynamic changed and the Hornets started eating away at the lead. Kemba was still on the floor when Kaminsky was inserted and would end up playing I think the entire second half and overtime. He scored 21 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter and hit some tough shots. Kemba was just on fire and couldn’t miss anything. Great night for him.
I think Clifford stayed too long with the unit that wasn’t working in the 3rd quarter. I kept waiting for him to insert Lin in the 3rd quarter, but he never did. He was about to at the 2 minute mark, because I saw Lin getting off his chair about to check back in, but Clifford waved him back. For some reason, I knew Lin would do well in this game if he got put back in. I expected him to shine in the 4th, but the 4th belonged to Kemba. So Lin ended up showing up in overtime and scored 8 of his 14 points in OT. By the way, the refs were horrendous in this game. They missed a lot of calls in general and a few on Lin in particular. They didn’t call very obvious fouls and they didn’t count one of Lin’s continuation plays. So Lin should have had several more points had the refs not messed up.
I knew that Clifford would stick with the unit that sparked the comeback through the 4th and overtime, so wasn’t surprised that he did that. But have to also give him credit for doing the right thing, rather than just change lineups for the hell of it. A lot of coaches would go back to their starting lineup to finish things up, but because the Hornets don’t really have a strong starting lineup, I wasn’t at all surprised that Clifford didn’t want to mess with what was working and decided to just stick with the lineup of Walker/Lin/Batum/Zeller/Kaminsky. I hope to see this lineup more often in the future, because this is a very talented and athletic lineup. I don’t think we’ve ever seen this lineup on the floor, but I hope because of the success tonight, we’ll see more of this lineup in the future.
I was actually not at all surprised by what Lin did in overtime. Like I said, I had expected Lin to come back in the game with a vengeance in the 4th quarter, so it took him a lot longer to really turn it up than I expected. What I hope is that Lin continues to play the way he did in OT in this game going forward. Yes, I know that Clifford has Lin tucked in the corner when Lin is on the floor with Batum and Walker. But I think there are opportunities for Lin to assert himself and move without the ball and move to the ball within the offense, but Lin is a little too faithful to his “role” of spacing the floor to take the initiative to move and get into positions where his teammates would want to pass it to him. So I do partly blame Lin for not being assertive when he’s on the floor with Walker and Batum.
In overtime in this game, he asserted himself and moved to positions where his teammates would want to pass him the ball and that unit of Walker/Lin/Batum looked more like it did in pre-season. I hope Lin takes something away from what he did tonight and carry it over to future games. There’s not need to defer as much as he has with guys like Walker and Batum. I think both these guys are pretty unselfish players and are actually good teammates in that they aren’t just concerned about their individual performance at the expense of winning games. The thing about Batum on this Hornets team is that he wants to be a play maker. So he’ll never pass the ball to Lin unless he’s in trouble or unless Lin is in position to score the ball. Batum is always looking to make plays, so he prefers to pass it to the bigs. So Batum doesn’t pass the ball to Lin much, because he wants to be the one making plays. But tonight, Lin moved to the ball a lot more when Batum had the ball and so Batum gave it up. Lin needs to do this more and not be so overly concerned about maintaining spacing on the floor. Lin is much too valuable of a player to be out there just to space the floor.
There’s a lot more to say about this game, but I just don’t have time to write much. Excellent win. The Hornets showed a lot of grit to win this game. They could have easily given up and probably no one would have blamed them. It looked like this game was over towards the end of the third quarter, because the momentum was fully on the side of the Sacramento Kings. Winning a game like this sticks with you as a team and will increase team chemistry even more on this Hornets team that is already a pretty close-knit group. So I think it’s a very important win in that sense. It will really carry over, which is very much-needed as they have some tough battles ahead. They need all the momentum they can get. I can tell you one thing, if the Hornets just rolled over to the Kings tonight, they wouldn’t have a chance facing the Cavs and Warriors soon. But the fact that they did gives them a sliver of a chance at keeping these games competitive. We’ll see how it all plays out. But what a great win and a great game to watch tonight!