Resurgent Lin Sparks Streaking Rockets
Lin shot below 40 percent from the field in six of the first eight games after the break. Despite seeing his minutes shrink from a season-long average of 29.2 to just 20.4, his turnover average per game somehow still rose from 2.4 to 2.6 in that stretch. It was bad enough in the Miami game that Lin's woes gave berth to a new derogatory term: the "Linover".
To put it mildly, Lin looked lost. But Lin said before last Friday's game vs. Indiana that his back was feeling much better, and he responded with 11 points in 16 minutes on an efficient 4-of-5 shooting performance.
That set the table for Sunday, when Lin finally recaptured the form that made him appear so valuable as a potential Sixth-Man-Of-The-Year candidate earlier in the season.
"Oh, it feels good," Lin said after the game. "It feels so good. Towards the end of the game I would say is when things opened up for me."
"I'm really happy for Jeremy," teammate and friend Chandler Parsons said from his nearby locker at Toyota Center. "He's been struggling a little bit, but we've all believed in him throughout this whole season."
Lin's role as bench leader. These Rockets as currently constructed are championship contenders this season. They have the NBA's best record in 2014 at 23-6. Dwight Howard has recaptured most of his Orlando athleticism in again becoming a dominant big man, while Harden is making MVP-level scoring outbursts seem routine.
But ask the experts about Houston's title chances, and one common question is heard: are they deep enough? Against Miami, the Rockets coughed up big leads early in the second and fourth quarters because the Lin-led Houston bench couldn't hold its weight.