Hornets Upset the Best Team in the East (Cavs) with Team Ball Led By Jeremy Lin’s first Start at PG for the Hornets

I watched the game pre-recorded after already knowing the results, so it wasn’t as exciting for me as I’m sure it was for those who got a chance to watch the game live. I generally like to watch Lin’s games pre-recorded, so I can skip through the commercials, but I usually stay away from Twitter and such so i don’t know the results of the game ahead of time. But for the Cavs game, I was expecting the Hornets to lose, so I decided to look up the result to decide whether or not it was worth watching. I had no idea that Kemba was injured and that Lin got his first start as a Point Guard for the Hornets. Had I known that, I would have definitely watched the game without looking up the results beforehand.

Lin was named the player of the game, netting 24 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds. He also had 5 turnovers (some of these turnovers had to do with Lin’s teammates not used Lin’s passing style), which negated some of the assists. Lin got his points within the flow of the game, which is what a great point guard should do, since a point guard’s main role is to distribute the ball and run the offense. Lin’s 24 points came pretty quietly, except at the end of the game when he netted 6 points in two minutes or so to seal the game. Those six points were very noticeable, as Lin pretty much took over the game to ensure the Hornets get a win and stave off Lebron’s onslaught down the stretch.

So many things to talk about! First of all, pretty much whenever Lin has started this season, he’s been excellent. But this is the first game Lin got to start for the Hornets at point guard, so this was a special game for Lin’s time with the Hornets. Lin actually hasn’t been given an opportunity to start and the freedom to run the offense consistently as point guard since Linsanity. A lot of critics claim that Linsanity was just a fluke, but the only reason it appears to be a fluke is that Lin hasn’t had the same opportunities since Linsanity. Lin has been misused and underutilized ever since Linsanity (even when he was with the Knicks when Woodson took over) and that’s why he hasn’t been able to reproduce the same superstar stats. The simple fact is, a player’s performance is hugely dependent on how he is used by the coach. There are numerous examples of this. For example, Keven Love has regressed significantly ever since he joined the Cavs and is no longer utilized as the number one option on the team. Also, look at how completely mediocre Ty Lawson has been, playing alongside Ball-Hargen, compared to what Lin did.Ty Lawson is currently averaging only 6.5 points and 3.8 assists. By contrast, Lin averaged 13.4 points and 6.1 assists during his first season with the Rockets. Yet, most gave Lin hell and kept saying that Linsanity was a fluke, while blindly dismissing the fact that Lin was completely misused and playing alongside a ball-dominant guard in Houston. When you take into consideration how grossly Lin has been misused by his coaches, you’ll come to realize that Lin has been performing at a high level, given his circumstances. But, of course, most people are not very perceptive. And, unfortunately for Lin, NBA analysts, GMs. coaches, etc. are some of the least perceptive people I’ve observed.

It’s no coincidence that ever since Linsanity, Lin has put up superstar stats during pretty much every single instance in which he was allowed to play his game whenever the “superstar” on the team went down and Lin was given back his role of running the offense. For example, when Harden went down, Lin matched his career high of 38 against the Spurs. In fact, when Lin plays without Melo or Harden on the court, he averages 22 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals. And, more importantly, Lin has pretty much won every single game he’s played without “superstars” on the court with him. So, basically, whenever Lin isn’t playing alongside a ball-dominant “superstar” he puts up superstar numbers and wins games. Last night’s defeat of the Cavs, the number one team in the East, was just another example of this. In other words, Lin is a player you can actually build around, because he is the rare type of star player that makes his teammates better and does things that are all about winning games, rather padding his own stats. The unfortunate thing is, because of their lack of perception and their disbelief that an undrafted Asian American from Harvard could be that good at basketball, GMs and coaches are oblivious to this and refuse to give Lin the keys to the offense to their detriment. They’d rather lose games then look “stupid” in front of their peers.

Because Kemba went down, the Hornets FINALLY got to see what happens when Lin is their starting point guard and the result was nothing short of spectacular: they snap the 5-game winning streak of the best team in the Eastern conference. They also end Lebron’s ridiculous personal 21-game winning streak against their franchise. So when Jeremy Lin starts at Point Guard for the Hornets, they end up accomplishing some amazing feats. Too bad politics won’t change much going forward, though. When Kemba returns, he’ll be the starting Point Guard and Lin will likely go back to being misused, as usual. My hope is that this game at least opens up Clifford’s eyes a little and get him to allow Lin to at least play Point Guard, which is a position Lin hasn’t played for a while now with the Hornets. I’m also hoping that Clifford will see that he can go to Lin at the end of the game and not just rely on iso-Kemba. We’ll see if these things happen.

For those who wonder why Lin sat so long in the fourth quarter, it’s because Lin is still playing injured and Clifford wants to give Lin as much rest as he can get away with. So that’s why Lin sat so long in the 4th quarter. I thought that’s a wise decision by Clifford. Lin has had to return prematurely from the same injury this entire season, because other key players on the team keep going down. As a result, Lin has been playing injured for months now. Despite playing injured, Lin still manages to have an impact. This is something that a lot of people don’t mention or don’t realize. Lin was actually playing injured last night and still managed to beat the best team in the East. That shows a lot of heart right there, which is another intangible that can’t be measured.

Without Kemba in the lineup, the Hornets played team ball, like they did in pre-season. This is what Linsanity is all about and this is what happens to your team when you let Jeremy Lin start at Point Guard and give him free reign to run the show. His unselfishness is contagious and this is something that’s not easy to measure, but is a huge aspect of Lin’s game and it’s what makes him a winner. When Lin is a big part of your team, your team ends up winning a lot of games. But this contagious aspect of Lin’s unselfish game is very difficult to measure, so GMs and coaches in the NBA miss this importance and that’s why they continue to misuse and under-utilize Jeremy Lin.

The Hornets played their best team ball that they’ve played in a very very long time. They had 26 assists as a team, which is excellent. The Cavs only had 16 team assists. Also, five players were in double-figures in scoring. This is what happens when you have a great point guard running the show, versus an under-sized shooting guard (i.e., Kemba Walker). If the Hornets want to win games and if they don’t care about politics, then Lin and Walker’s roles should be reversed. Lin should be the starting point guard for the Hornets and Kemba should be the one coming off the bench as a combo-guard or shooting guard. Of course, this is never going to happen, so the Hornets will never fulfill their highest potential as long as Kemba Walker remains on this team. If the Hornets management is perceptive, they will look to trade Walker and sign Lin to a long-term contract as their starting point guard of the future. Once they do this, then the Hornets will finally have a chance at fighting for the top spots in the East.

The other thing I noticed is that with Walker out of the lineup, Clifford actually does an excellent job of managing minutes of all the players. His substitutions made sense in this game, because he spread out the minutes and kept players fresh, rather than over-use Kemba and Batum and under-utilize his other players. So that’s another big intangible positive that results from Kemba not being a part of the Hornets. I don’t think it’s something that management notices, though.

To me, what makes Jeremy Lin a star is that he’s a complete player who’s integral to team ball and winning. It’s no coincidence that whenever Lin is allowed to play his game, his team usually ends up winning. Lin is one of the rare players who’s good at both ends of the floor. He’s one of the best PG defenders in the game and is also lethal on offense, because of this wide skill set. On top of this, Lin provides you with a lot of great intangibles that can’t be measured, such as his heart, his will to win (which makes him deadly down the stretch if he’s properly utilized), his high basketball IQ, his infectious team-ball spirit, his toughness (no one in the NBA gets more bloody noses than Lin), and his humbleness and willingness to sacrifice for the good of the team. For the sake of the Hornets, I hope they realize this sooner than later. For the sake of Jeremy Lin, I hope some other team out there realizes this if the Hornets don’t.

About JLintel

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  • MrPingPong

    It’s good to read another vintage writeup from the Philosopher. You say everything I want to say and more, Philosopher! 😉

    I knew Kemba was injured but did not know for sure that Lin would start as a PG until the Hornets PR tweeted the starting lineup about 20 min before the game. The (crazy) LoF in me told me to skip my martial art practice and watch his Hairness play instead. It was worth it, I must say. 🙂

    Lin was calm and under control throughout. It was only after he scored a layup with 1:05 min left causing the Cavs to call a full timeout that he let his bottled up emotion explode outward! That basket broke the Cavs spirit, and was the last basket made by either team in the game. Pure Linsanity! In the post game locker interview, Lin said that after two quick TOs due to “trying to make tough passes” he decided that he just had to stop doing it and “try to get to the heart of the defense.” Lin got to finally play his game! 🙂

    But nope, it does not matter how many times Lin showed he could play against the best and beat them, GMs, coaches and owners do not and will not recognize his BB skills and IQ. Lin will have to prove himself worthy over and over again no matter where he goes. This is one of the elements that make the Jeremy Lin’s story so compelling to me. Wait, MJ was there and witnessed Linsanity live. MJ was so freaking happy he gave Lin a good pat on the butt! 🙂 MJ should recognize and understand the tremendous impact that Lin made on the team, one would assume.

    Anyway, forget the thrill of victory and onto the next game. Kemba had his knee drained yesterday and is good to go tomorrow, from what I’ve read. Back to the status quo!

    • Thanks, MrPingPong!

      His “Hairness”. Nice one!

      The thing about blog posting is that once you get off of dong it, it’s hard to get back on, even though you still have just as much to say. It’s like exercise or any routine, I suppose. Hard to get back to doing it once you’ve stopped doing it for a while. Also, when it comes to Lin, it’s pretty much the same thing over and over again, because, like you said, Lin has to continue to prove himself. So it pretty much doesn’t matter what he does, people’s perceptions of him are deeply ingrained and it’s very difficult to change that.

      I’m okay with Kemba being back, because Lin is still injured and needs to rest. I would prefer it if Lin sits out for a while and return after the All Star game to really heal properly. But, of course, since the Hornets will be facing tough opponents, Lin, being the competitor that he is is not not going to miss those games.

      • MrPingPong

        I’m OK with Kemba coming back to take the helm too.
        Lin badly needs a break from all action to heal his ankle.
        Ironically, Kemba is just as misused as Lin.
        Unlike Lin though, he is over-utilized.

        • Excellent point, MrPingPong, about Kemba also being misused. Fortunately for Kemba though, it’s to his benefit. Unfortunate for the Hornets, though, that they continue to misuse Lin and Kemba.

  • Chirico

    MrPingpong and philosopher,

    I agree with you both wholeheartedly.

    Let’s hope JLin and those teammates a speedy recovery.

    Happy Lunar New Year to you all!

    • MrPingPong

      Thanks Chirico!

      Happy and Prosperous Year of the Monkey to you and to all visitors of this blog too!

      🙂

    • Thanks, Chirico. Happy early Chinese New Year to you, Chirico, as well as everyone here!

  • MrPingPong

    Full game replay of Hornets vs Cavs on Youtube:

    https://youtu.be/cGMR5aXdrgE

    Hurry because it may be taken down any time.

  • Ace Pagoda

    Charlotte has the potential to be a very good team- if JL is the PG. Up to this point I thought Charlotte was kind of light weight even with JL (though not utilized properly until last night). I never watched Charlotte before, did not know who KW or MKG was. But they are both very good players. But it is obvious, at least from this early sampling of 1 game at PG by JL, then they can transcend into something else, another level even with the personnel they have. MKG is an eye opener to me but by himself is not transcendent. HOWEVER, with JL they both can make Charlotte transcendent. The question now is (1) can Charlotte see the potential it has right before its very eyes? (2) if so, do they have the guts to act upon it and take things further to confirm their potential? This next step would be to appoint JL starting PG, ask KW to be co-point guard and secondary ball handler or better yet lead the bench charge. Put Batum at small forward and PJ on the 2nd team with the carrot that he can now try to score more but still make defense his priority. If they tried this and were successful they might be able to re-sign JL for the future as I think JL would do this out of loyalty (though not in his best interest). Then this off season go get the missing piece or two and unbelievably make a Charlotte run for the title next year. On the other hand, if they don’t try JL at the PG for a while to see if it works, then next year JL leaves, Batum leaves and then what? big decision for the folks in teal to make. I still like JL in Chicago for the big stage (and Hoibergs preference to push the ball and Jimmy Butler, McDermott, Gibson, Brooks and Mirotic), or Sacramento because it is in CA. Rose and Rondo, though big names can’t make their teammate better. JL can. JL and Cousins would be a two-headed monster. But he is in Charlotte now and Charlotte needs to see if there is a genie in their bottle.

    • I don’t see much change happening, unfortunately. Although, I did here some rumors on Twitter about a possible trade involving Kemba Walker to the Bucks. Here’s a link to the Twitter page reporting this for those interested: https://twitter.com/buckssportspage

      I don’t know how credible this source is, since I’m not at all familiar with the source. Will have to see if I hear it from other sources to even get excited about this potential news. I highly doubt the trade happens, but my main interest is whether or not it is in fact true that the Hornets contacted the Bucks about trading Kemba, as this source reports. If even just that is true, then that is very exciting news, because it means that the Hornets at least don’t see Kemba Walker as being a long-term solution at the point guard position. Wish I knew if this rumor is true or not.

      Regardless, not much is going to change. Then only way things change is if Walker continues to be out for at least 10 or so games and Lin has excellent performances at the starting PG position for at least 10 or so games. Then I can see things changing. But there is no way the Hornets will bench Walker just because of one stellar starting PG performance by Lin (albeit against the best team in the East). The problem is, Lin is still injured, so I doubt he’ll be able to string together excellent performances, even if he’s given the opportunity. So that’s why I don’t mind Kemba returning to the lineup and hope Kemba does tonight. Because I don’t want Lin to be set up to fail. I want Lin to start at PG only after he’s fully recovered from his injury.

      Anyway, we’ll see how things go from here. I don’t expect much will change this season, though. The only way things change this season is if Kemba Walker gets injured for a good chunk of time.

  • Ace Pagoda

    A BIG move tonight would be if Charlotte starts JL at PG. Let’s see how good a teammate KW can be to JL as we have been saying that KW is a “good teammate”. It would take a great sales job by Cliff (with support from MJ) and some guts not knowing now KW will react (though KW has got to have a thought in the back of his mind as to the quality of PG play by JL). But it could go something like “let’s try this for 10 games KW and if it doesn’t pan out we go back to the way it was”. Give KW and PJ the green light to light up scoreboard on 2nd team. It would be a bold, bold move and something that MJ the gambler and athlete might appreciate if he hasn’t completely sold his soul to corporate athletics. If it works, you now have a team and I will invest in League Pass. If not, then Charlotte will go back to being Charlotte and we can speculate where JL will be next season.

  • Ace Pagoda

    To find out what the NBA “establishment” thinks about JL check this out:
    http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2016/2/1/10774690/nba-free-agents-2016-rankings-kevin-durant-andre-drummond JL is listed at #66. Then compare what you think of JL to some of the other above him. Then ask yourself who on this list could most positively impact a team used the right way (It does not do any good to evaluate a player without context, especially JL)

  • pistolpete

    As usual another great write-up Philosopher. Whenever he gets an opportunity Lin delivers big time. I’m just incredulous that GM’s and coaches are not picking up on what he could do for their team. Is it just stupidity or a combination of things? Anyhow Kemba is back tonight and hopefully we’ll see at least a slight change in direction (I’m always hopeful),

    I know it’s early but what do you think of the possibility of JLin reuniting with D’Antoni in Philly? Are there other possibilities for him to be a starter on some other team next year?

    • Thanks, pistolpete!

      I think GMs and coaches aren’t picking up on what Lin can do, because of a number of things. First of all, Lin has been set up to fail ever since Linsanity. So Lin’s stats, when viewed in absolute terms, don’t convey that Lin is a star player. So this reinforces their already ingrained perception that Lin is nothing special, because of Lin’s background (undrafted Asian American from Harvard). Once your deeply ingrained perception is reinforced, it is very difficult to change that perception. Also, most coaches and GMs don’t have time to follow every player, so they only see Lin in spurts and so don’t have a good context for evaluating Lin. They don’t really understand Lin’s situation like Lin’s fans do, because they don’t watch every one of Lin’s games. So there’s definitely an information gap. NBA coaches and GMs lack the necessary information to really evaluate Lin at a deeper level, because they simply don’t follow him that much.

      I’m sure there’s a possibility of Lin reuniting with D’Antoni–especially if D’Antoni becomes head coach. I think there are rumors that D’Antoni could return to coach for the Suns. But the Suns already have PGs, so Lin likely won’t be able to join D’Antoni if he goes to the Suns.

      In the beginning of the season, I was eyeing Orlando as a good place for Lin. So, offhand I would say Orlando is a good choice for Lin. Unlike last off-season, Lin is in a very good position this coming off-season. He’ll have a lot of suitors, I believe, because a lot of teams are PG hungry and there aren’t too many good PGs that are going to be free agents this off-season. So I think Lin will have plenty of choices. It’ll be a very exciting off-season.

      Right now, I think Lin is leaning towards staying with the Hornets, even if he is going to remain a backup. I think he really likes the players and he also likes Clifford. To me, the ideal situation for Lin is if Kemba Walker gets traded and Lin gets to stay in Charlotte as their starting PG of the future. That’s the scenario I’m hoping for, because I do like the players they have here. High IQ and high character. Clifford also isn’t a terrible coach and I think he’s been really good for Lin’s defense. At least Lin is able to learn a little something from this coach, which is not something we can say for any of Lin’s other coaches (including D’Antoni).

      Anyway, we’ll see how it all shakes out. The biggest thing right now is if Lin can recover from his injury. He hasn’t looked good physically for well over a month now. Even though people rave about his performance vs. the Cavs, I can tell that Lin is still struggling physically. He’s much slower and stumbles quite a bit on the court, because his ankle is still weak.

  • pistolpete

    Thanks for the insight philosopher! It puzzles me though that Pops has never shown interest in Lin after he dropped 38 points against them when Harden was injured. Granted they have Parker and Mills but you’d think there would be interest to acquire him and groom him in the Spurs system to replace Tony in the future.I have great respect for Pop’s as a coach but how could he miss the potential of Lin? Jeremy has also had great games against other teams such as Dallas, Toronto, Lakers and Nets but not great interest from them. I suppose they felt he wasn’t consistent enough and didn’t realize it was due to his coaches and the primadonna’s he was playing with. Pops really surprises me though – I mean these people are supposed to be professionals in evaluating talent and Lin has been in the league for 5 years.

    • MrPingPong

      When it comes to Lin, Pop is no different from any other NBA coach, IMOO. They are all Lin doubters.

      MDA is the only coach who believes in Lin, but only after he played Lin out of necessity. Back to the Knicks pre-Linsanity days, neither Tony Douglas nor Shump could run the point the way MDA wanted. MDA and company were desperately waiting for Baron Davis to recover from injury and hopefully save them. MDA and company saw nothing in Lin before that magical game on Feb 4, 2012 against the Nets.

      On the night of Feb 3, 2012, MDA and company let Lin play a little against Boston and told him “not to do too much.” So Lin did not do much. On the following night against the Nets, MDA had no choice but to play Lin because Shump committed two fouls at the 3:35 min mark of the first quarter. Anticipating being cut soon afterwards, Lin went Super Saiyan and the rest is Linsanity, as we all know.

      Back to Pop, I know he has won a few rings or so and is arguably the best active NBA head coach right now, but when it comes to Lin… Sad story…

  • pistolpete

    Lin is fu***d unless Kemba, Batum or MKG gets hurt.

  • pistolpete

    Nice gratitude to LIN by coach Cliff Dweller after he led them to their first victory over LeBron in 6 years.

  • Ace Pagoda

    I wonder if Cliff was “resting” JL’s ankle injury. Yes, that must be it.

    • I know you’re being sarcastic, but I’m not at all surprised at Lin’s treatment in Heat game. Like I said, nothing is going to change unless players get injured. Now with MKG, Batum AND Walker back, Lin is likely going to get less than 20 minutes a game consistently. Just the way it is, because Hornets don’t consider Jeremy Lin a star player to their detriment.

  • MrPingPong

    I was only able to watch the last four minutes of the Heat game. It looked like Lin did not have a chance to do much. Hornets fans and Lin fans seem furious about the loss for various reasons.

    Let’s move on to the Wiz game tomorrow! I’ll let you in on what my Ouija board has to say about that game tomorrow! 😉

  • Chirico
  • Chirico

    After beating cavaliers, JLin’s reward is “back to the bench” or “play much less minutes and got marginalized”

    We’ve seen this over and over again regardless whether the team + coach wanted to compete in the league or not.

    maybe we should be thankful Clifford did not start Roberts over Lin like BS did last year?

    No wonder JLin is disappointed.

    http://sportige.com/charlotte-hornets-jeremy-lin-steve-clifford-kemba-walker-no-hope-91837/

    • With Hornets, the explanation is simple. Now with MKG, Batum and Walker back, there’s no room for Lin in Hornets, except as a back up playing less than 20 minutes a game. Just simple math, since Hornets don’t consider Jeremy Lin as a start player to their detriment. The result is that they lose a game they should have won.

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