Linsanity lets Rockets keep heads

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com


VIDEO: Rockets top Blazers in Game 5 to stay alive

HOUSTON – In the end, it looked like every single reason that had pushed team owner Leslie Alexander to search around in the sofa cushions to find the $168 million and change to bring in a couple of big, big stars.

There was Dwight Howard going to work in the low post for nifty little jump hooks, powerful drives to the basket and also gobbling up critical rebounds coming down the stretch.

Here was the laboring James Harden at long last pulling a meaningful 3-point shot from somewhere out of his beard and coaxing it through the net just when the game was hanging in the balance.

At crunch time, for once in this compelling series, the Rockets didn’t get crunched.

But you’re crazy if you think Houston would have lived to play another day without a little ol’ dose of Linsanity.

It’s funny that Game 5 of this most compelling first round series should find Jeremy Lin in the role of fire-starter — and maybe season saver — getting the full-throated appreciation and roar from the Toyota Center crowd.

Before Sam Presti played Santa Claus and dropped Harden right down the Rockets’ chimney and before Howard had that ill-fitting season to live and die in L.A., this was going to be Lin’s team.

Flip the calendar back 21 months to the summer of 2012 and this was going to be his team. His face was ubiquitous on billboards that line the freeways, he could be seen smiling from the sides of buses.

Then Harden and Howard happened. Then Patrick Beverley arrived.

Things change.

They changed again dramatically from Game 4 to Game 5 as well. The last time Lin was seen was Sunday night when he shot just 1-for-6 from the field and made a critical turnover in the final minute of regulation that allowed the Blazers to go on tie and win in OT.

This time, Lin took the baton from Beverley, who has been sick and ailing for several days, and practically turned back the clock to those crazy nights when he became a worldwide phenomenon at Madison Square Garden.

He zigged when the Blazers’ defense zagged. He found the cracks that let him get into the lane and all the way to the basket. He found the openings and the nerve to pull up and stab in long jumpers just when the Rockets seemed ready to topple again.

“He had these two big 3-pointers at the end of possessions as the shot clock was ending,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “Those were big momentum plays for them and they took a little bit out of us.”

Lin finished with 21 points, four assists and two steals in the Rockets’ 108-98 Game 5 victory. But it was a six-minute span late in the third quarter and early in the fourth when Portland cut their lead down to a single point and he was practically a one-man roll of duct tape holding the Rockets together.

There was the unpredictable style, those unorthodox moves that take him from the baseline back out the top of the key in the wink of an eye and that unmatchable, often inexplicable verve that can pick up and arena and put it on his skinny shoulders.

“I felt like I needed to be more of a spark tonight,” Lin said. “I haven’t done a great job of that this series. After the last game, I was really upset and I just believed and focused,” he said.

That changed in Game 5 when the Blazers’ Wes Matthews said that Lin was a deciding factor in the game.

“It seemed like Jeremy Lin hit big shot after big shot,” said Matthews said. “He was attacking the rim, hitting shots. We have to do a better job defensively on him.”

He’s still like summer lightning. You never know where or when he’ll strike and the damage can be significant. But Lin now has to pick his spots and wait his turn in the bigger, grander hierarchy of the Rockets.

“Jeremy has had some very good games for us,” said coach Kevin McHale. We needed him. He had a great stretch there where he was able to break people down. They were trying to pressure him all over and he broke the pressure down and going in the paint and made a couple of floaters.

“When they’re putting that much pressure on us, it really is hard to run an offense. You’ve got to break people down.”

The Rockets will chalk it up as $168 million well-spent with Howard and Harden delivering at the end.

But when the season was hanging in the balance, it was that dash of Linsanity that kept them from losing their heads.


VIDEO: Lin and Parsons discuss Game 5 win

51 Comments

  1. Blog-So-Hard-2014 says:

    Howard needs a few 40 pt games

  2. Blog-So-Hard-2014 says:

    Lin and Harden need more than just a shot blocker in the post (*ahem* Howard)

  3. Ray says:

    In the starting lineup, Harden will demand the ball almost 40% of the possession, Dwight will have his share of 30% and the remaining 30% will be divided among Parsons, Jones and Beverly. JLin excels when he has the ball in his hands, so by pulling him of the bench is a more logical move. Pat will beef up defense for the Starters, while JLin pulls the trigger for the bench mob.

  4. Rafiq says:

    Linsanity is still alive!!!

  5. Mr. T says:

    Well,, Point is that Kevin Mac is not a right head coach for Rockets. KM is a great basketball player but not as a coach. No matter what, Rockets need to build the team again in this summer. New head coach needed, Deron Willams should join Rockets and Ryan Anderson must be in Rockets. Rockets will be ready to for the final in 2014-2015 season.

  6. cambospice says:

    I want Houston to win! They are fun to watch if they play Jwremy Lin more!! Gooo Houston! and Go Jeremy Lin!!

  7. JM says:

    The reason I think McHale doesn’t use LIN so often is that Jeremy will be guarding Damian Lillard and Pat Beverley is a better match-up for Lillard.

  8. K76154 says:

    Starting Beverley and benching Lin is a big mistake from the beginning. Beverley is not a bad player, but his talent is limited and is more of a bench level player. His all-out style of playing is also more suited for coming off the bench and change the tempo of the game for 5~7 minutes before the opposing team reacts and change strategy. Lin, on the other hand, has much better talent than Beverley, is the best organizer on the team, and needs time to get himself into rhythm. He is not the type of player who can come off the bench and immediately get hot. Most importantly, Lin does everything better than Beverley, including defense, so why putting better player on the bench and start the worse? Yes including defense. All number suggests Lin at least plays the same level of defense compared with Beverley. Aggressive defense does not equal to good defense. Lin is not aggressive, but he is smart, and he uses all kind of trap to trap his opponent.

    Many Rocket fans, especially those on CF, where only Lin haters can post any threads and the operator themselves are big Lin haters, blames Lin for inconsistency. But he has proven again and again that he is not. The reason why he is inconsistent is not because of him. It’s on McHale. Everytime when he is having a hot hand, McHale benches him immediately. Lin needs the ball in his hand, and McHale gives all balls to Harden. Even when Harden is not on, the ball is in Parsons and Beverley’s hand. He is not C&S style player, and McHale ask him to do that. He needs to be on the court for extended period of time, and McHale benches him and makes his minutes very inconsistent. No player can play with high consistency when the coach abuse him like this, and Lin has already been very consistent in that situation. If you think Lin is inconsistent, blame McHale, not Lin.

    • cambospice says:

      I totally agree with you. Everyone could tell that the coach is racist. He never talk about Jeremy Lin. The fan has to ask him about Jeremy Lin. Look at the interview. All he talks about is howard and Harden. He never believe in Lin at all. Lin is a guy who needs believing. That’s why Howard kept telling him Linsanity in game 5. Jeremy Lin is a smart player. Mike D’Tony always believe in Jeremy Lin and everyone in the team let him lead cuz they know Jeremy Lin is a smart player. He knows how to do plays and give the team easy shots. I watch the Linsanity old videos. I could totally see why he is confident. His ccach(Mike D’tony) was so happy and proud of Jeremy Lin. Couldn’t stop talking good about him. His whole team likes him a lot excpt Melo because Melo is a really good player and he wants to lead knicks alone. I juat hope I can see a New Change of believe iin a guy who have potential. I’m not Chinese or Tawainese. I’m just Jeremy Lin fan who is fighting for civil right like black people are! Please coach Mchale don’t discriminate. Just give Jeremy Lin more chance to prove himself and you will get the team to the finals.

    • Randy says:

      Lin is a better defender than Beverly? do you watch Rockets games?

  9. Hot Coffee says:

    Great writing Fran. You are right on the target.
    Jeremy Lin is a talented player and still growing, but misused in Rockets.
    Hope Jeremy finds a team who appreciates him.

    Jeremy Lin made basketball fun to watch. I enjoyed Linsanity in NY.

  10. peter says:

    the coach has paid the higher price and will be paying if he putting the Lin on the bench.
    Beverely has not bwwn showing any better than Lin.
    every starter has made lots turned off and errors too.
    in the playoff, the Rockets has Not showed they are better than normal season.

  11. jae says:

    sad to say lin – slightly used by rockets

  12. sugatang itlog says:

    I hope Houston have a better coach. Or McHale should be a real coach. Probably he needs training with Coach Pop of Spurs.

  13. Frank says:

    Well, we all know very well about the “tlaent and ability” of Kevin McHale through out this season long! He’s got so many talents in his team, but guess what? He only uses 8 players he likes in the roster, but not necessarily the most suitable players for the team, and this is no surprise for the Rockets heading into the playoffs and all o fthe sudden realized their coach has no strategies and plans except Harden + Howard + Beaverly! If McHale doesn’t like Lin, just let him go, don’t waste and kill the future of this young talent in your hands!

  14. JKZ says:

    I am wondering why every time Houston loses, Lin is blamed? Shouldn’t the billboard starts take more responsibility and score more @ postseason?

    All I remember that in Jordan days, he had a bunch of so-so team players, but he managed and won with Scottie. When they lost, no one pointed fingers to those centers.

  15. Kevin Patterson says:

    Nice article, however one thing to point out – Lin is only skinny when compared to other NBA players / pro athletes. I met him in person (the first time I met a current pro athlete) and the dude is just built. He’s 6’3 and more than 200 pounds of all muscle. As a 6′ 150 lb guy I felt kinda emasculated lol

    • double pump says:

      Well said, Fran.

      Here’s my favorite: “There was the unpredictable style, those unorthodox moves that take him from the baseline back out the top of the key in the wink of an eye and that unmatchable, often inexplicable verve that can pick up and arena and put it on his skinny shoulders.” Being unorthodox, is priceless.

      And I think you hit the nail on the head: “…But Lin now has to pick his spots and wait his turn in the bigger, grander hierarchy of the Rockets.”

      Houston is not the right match for Linsanity.

  16. jonnywang says:

    great game from a lousy player

  17. Jamal M says:

    I like Jeremy Lin when he drives, but he misses so many open layups…..

  18. jkinv100 says:

    How can a coach bench J Lin and start Beverley? It’s like a joke.
    Lin already proved that he can score 25-30 points if you just let him play. It seems to me that coach worries that he scored too many and always put him on the bench.
    I remember in one game Harden was sick and then Lin scored 30+ points. If you don’t have Harden in this team and let Lin play 35 mins each game, he could score 25-30 points in most games.

    If Rockedts is out, I won’t be surprised. That’s the plan of their coach.

  19. Blog-So-Hard says:

    Lin has no moves..

  20. Edwin says:

    Yeah McHale never knew how to use LIn in all seasons long. Rockets was Lin’s team.

  21. lalalalla says:

    Fluke. Blazers in 6

  22. jimmylin97 says:

    appreciation! I don’t think so…they were booing him when he first stepped on the court!

  23. Linsanity says:

    Lin is the x-factor in this series, and McHale knew the kid can play but I just can’t understand why he misused Lin’s ability and talent.

  24. Loda says:

    So happy for what Lin has done in this game. Lin needs a positive mentality to be play well. The mistake in game 4 actually pushed him on the line to give it all with out any hesitation.
    It’s lucky tho for the Rockets that LA was shooting really bad. Put Asik and Howard on him is the right choice, but he probably will not score only 8pts next time.

  25. Damon Houston says:

    Nothing new, when Jeremy plays big minutes rockets win its been happening all season long. GAME 3 WIN LIN PLAYS IVER 30 MINS. Game 1 lin plays 30 muns and Rocks should have won until Mchale benched him. Remember game 2 and 4, Lin played 20 mins, how the hell you expect him to score 20 points in 20 mins??? Really??. If Mchale plays Lin over 30 mins, I guarantee a rockets victory game 6

    • cambospice says:

      Yeah he rather play the sick baverly that’s how much it shows he doesnt believe in the guy lol. If I was the coach, I would tell Jeremy this is your court. Just keep trying. We believe in you. you are a smart player and you will see how well he plays!

  26. fair palmer says:

    Glad to have the G5 win in Clutch City. Lin rose to the win-or-go-home occasion as you described.

    Hope the coaches allow Lin to play over 30 minutes in G6 also — the Rockets would have a better chance for a 3-3 tie.

  27. Entertheballer says:

    At 200 lbs. Jeremy Lin doesn’t have skinny shoulders. Not an accurate physical description at all. . Objectively, he’s not skinnier than Mo Williams who weighs 185 lbs.. Before someone dismisses my comment out of hand, honestly , would anyone think Williams or a similarly built player would be described that way if he won the game. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s malicious in intent, it seems to me unconcious and preconceived notions are leaking to the surface.

  28. Argie B Hill says:

    Jermey Lin stated that he was a Christain, but last night game he saluted a fallin angel name Satan who thanks he is a God. Satan who was created by God just like us runs this world for right now and to see a man who said he is a Christain throw up his 666 sign over his one seeing eye was so satanic on national TV I could not belived what I saw. So it is true 99% of all entertainer worship the Devil, Basketball, Football, Baseball players like Kobe, Labron James and yea your Actors and Actress too. all satan worshiper. Finally America is known to be a nations of Devil worshiper.

    • DA says:

      Argie B Hill. THAT IS THE DUMBEST THING I HAVE EVER READ! carry on.

    • Kevin says:

      Focus on the essence bro. If you want to judge someone, look at his/her behaviors. Don’t be too obsessed with the symbols.

  29. James says:

    McHale never knew how to use LIn in all season long, He just used Big bear and Howard , But we all knew Lin can attack. To make a good team , you must use all you have including bench guys, especially in post season.

  30. lonlyamongus says:

    all credit to Harden for only shooting 15 attempts and not 30 time when his % lands around 30%, for a ball hogger i say this is a big improvement.

  31. thespectator says:

    key is to contain aldrigde and rockets bench comes up big as well as the starters..yeah i know easier said then done…harden has had a couple solid games, by his standards, i think rockets got a shot but man will it be tough to close it in portland…but i think portland wins it

  32. okc2014 says:

    I want Houston to win. Good stuff!

  33. dunjav2013 says:

    Reblogged this on dunjav.

    • James says:

      McHale never knew how to use LIn in all season long, He just used Big bear and Howard , But we all knew Lin can attack. To make a good team , you must use all you have including bench guys, especially in post season.

  34. Willy says:

    It is Over for Portland, make Howard def Aldrige and Bev or harden def Lillard, and make Lin and Parson attack.

    • wenjiecao says:

      Make Asik defend Aldrige, Harden def Lillard, and let Lin and Parson attack. That’s right!!!

  35. Realist2014 says:

    You could make that argument about any player. Memphis only won because Durant shot 25 pct. KG said it years ago. A “W” is a “W”. Two good teams played. The Rockets wanted it more. The pressure is on Portland to close it out. This isn’t the East where you have a few teams that stand out. Every series in the west right now is at 3-2 and has been close. Not one team has just dominated the other. This is one of the best Playoffs I’ve ever seen. Lin gets big money and it paid off for the Rockets tonight. Game 6 should be exciting.

  36. Kal says:

    This series would be disappointing if the Rockets didn’t push it to 6 at least… game 7 flip of the coin would be most ideal… but Blazers have probably earned an advance and will no doubt do it back in Portland.

    Rockets gotta land Melo… or at least improve their bench in the offseason… to become serious contenders…

  37. jdub455 says:

    Although linsanity was the hero on this one, the real story is they won coz Aldridge only scored 8 pts…

    • Blue says:

      Next time ask Aldridge to score more so that they ll win

    • allaroundballer says:

      Yeah that’s the key, they won’t be able to hold Aldridge like that for 2games more. Also Lin + Harden will never get along, both playin with the ball

    • Ryan says:

      That’s because Rockets defended Aldrige well. I guess they can the right formula in beating the Blazers. Playing Howard & Asik together will clog the paint & provide more pressure to Lopez & Aldridge.

    • LinShuHao says:

      yah.. and the truth for G1, G2, G4 was because harden didnt score enough for the rockets to win… give credit when credit is due.. not always look at the flipped side as it might not be right after all.