Posts Tagged ‘Linsanity’

Rockets Getting Some New ‘Lincertainty’

VIDEO: Jeremy Lin has 18 points and four assists off the bench as the Rockets beat the Bucks

MILWAUKEE – Before Linsanity – those heady few months in the winter of 2012 that turned Jeremy Lin into a near-household name and helped the NBA heal from the rancorous lockout that delayed its season – there was uncertainty.

And after it, too.

About a week before his basketball world blew up (mostly) in a good way, Lin was praying just to keep his job. At a pregame chapel session in Miami on Jan. 27 that season attended by some players from both teams, Lin asked: “If you could say a prayer for me that I don’t get cut.” Fellows such as Landry Fields and Jerome Jordan, Lin’s Knicks teammates, and Heat forward Udonis Haslem heard a fringe guy sweating out the deadline date that year for contracts to be guaranteed.

Then Lin scored 25, 28, 23 and 38 points from Feb. 4 right through the Feb. 10 deadline, then kept going. In 11 games, the undrafted Harvard guy averaged 23.9 points and 9.2 assists while shooting 50 percent and helping New York win seven in a row and nine of 11.

Life hasn’t been the same since: a frenzied “15 minutes” of fame as a pop culture icon, massive All-Star vote totals inspired at least in part by Lin’s Asian-American heritage and a three-year, $25 million contract from Houston in free agency.

But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been uncertainty.

In a season and a half with the Rockets, Lin has established himself as a solid NBA rotation player but not that meteor streaking across the middle of 2011-12. He started 82 games last season but dipped in production (13.4 ppg, 6.1 apg, 44.1 FG), then got pancaked in Houston’s playoff series against Oklahoma City (4.0 ppg, 6-of-24 shooting, as many turnovers as assists).

This season, Lin has been in and out of the starting lineup, due partly to injuries (10 games missed with a knee sprain or back spasms) and partly to other injuries and combinations in the Rockets’ deep backcourt (James Harden, Patrick Beverley, Aaron Brooks). Mixed results and dissatisfaction among fans even fueled some Lin trade rumors, though his $15 million “balloon” salary in 2013-14 likely doesn’t have clubs beating down GM Daryl Morey‘s door.

But a light of sorts went on for Lin on Jan. 28 against San Antonio when he subbed as a starter for Harden, and it stayed on since he moved back to the bench. Beginning that night, Houston has won five straight and Lin has been in attack mode, averaging 16.0 points, 6.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 33.3 minutes, while shooting 50 percent (38.9 from the arc). His numbers prior to that were down across the board, in reserve or starting.

“Just trying to be aggressive, just trying to play free and trying to be myself out there,” Lin said after the Rockets’ 101-95 victory over Milwaukee Saturday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. “That’s the biggest thing, just embrace whatever role they give me, big or small.”

Lin scored his 18 points in the first 19 minutes he logged against the Bucks, shooting 8-of-15 with four assists and a pair of steals. He played the entire fourth quarter and posted one particular roundabout highlight feed to Dwight Howard. He ran the offense up to a point, but kept his offense as a priority too.

“I still am responsible for getting other people going,” Lin said, “but I just think for me, whether I’m at the one or the two, I want to try to be very aggressive and attack a lot. Some nights it’s getting other people involved and some nights it’s getting myself involved.”

Houston coach Kevin McHale wants nothing less. “He needs to be aggressive,” McHale said recently. “Jeremy plays his best when he’s attacking, and when we have some pace in the game it really helps him.”

Lin has 19 appearances in reserve so far and 24 as a starter, so he needs to stick with the bench if he wants to get into the discussion for Sixth Man balloting. Harden is somebody who knows a little about that role, filling it to hardware- and conference-winning effect for the Thunder before his trade to Houston.

“He’s doing a great job,” Harden said of Lin. “He’s getting a feel for the game before he checks in, and once he checks in, he’s being aggressive and making the right plays. The more games he can get used to coming off the bench, the better off he’ll be.”

Playing the game mentally before actually playing in the game is the key, Harden said. “It’s the first six or seven minutes of the game,” said the Rockets’ leading scorer. “Knowing how the game is played, knowing who’s hot on the other team, knowing who has it going and who doesn’t have it going, and then just going out there and having an impact.”

Jeremy Lin: ‘You’ve Changed Bro’ (Video)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If Jeremy Lin‘s basketball career ever hits another roadblock, he has a fallback plan in place.

Sketch comedy, with the Houston Rockets’ point guard as the punchline, is a viable option. The latest gem uploaded to Lin’s official YouTube channel is ample proof:

On a team with Dwight Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons, Lin might very well have the best and most authentic comedic chops of the crew.

Lin playing against type in the “You’ve Changed Bro” spoof is the best part. He’s as humble a player as you’ll find in the NBA, so watching him stumble through all of the made-up scenarios that showcase him big timing fans, friends and family is comedy gold.

Knicks Ready For Second Surge?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Here we go again.

The first time it was Linsanity and all of the madness the arrival of a true global icon (Jeremy Lin) brought to the New York Knicks (along handfuls of wins) during his breakout moment last month. There was a seven-game win streak wrapped into a cosmic stretch that saw the Knicks go from a struggling outfit to a potential postseason matchup nightmare for anyone unlucky enough to draw them in the playoffs.

Then the bottom fell out.

Now comes Woodsanity … well, it might be wise to hold off on that one for at least a few more days. But the Knicks are definitely at it again. They’re 4-0 under interim coach Mike Woodson, who took over after Mike D’Antoni departed the premises last week.

The Knicks aren’t just playing well since Woodson took over … they’re playing great. They are playing like the team folks expected them to be when Lin, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and the rest of the Knicks’ talented roster had everyone whipped into a frenzy heading into All-Star weekend.

The balanced offensive effort combined with a heightened attention to detail on defense has them back in sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference — and they’re rising. New Yorkers see a lot that they like out of the Woodson-led Knicks, as Tim Smith of the New York Daily News points out:

Oh what fun it is for these resurgent Knicks, who have totally bought into Woodson’s system and philosophy. There is nothing Linsane about what’s going on.

“The spirit of the team, the energy of the team, we’re sacrificing, we’re buying in,” Lin said. “Using each other and individual shot attempts may be going down for specific people, whether it’s me or Melo or Amar’e. But then everyone else is getting more shots and the shots are easier. We’re able to keep the defense honest by using all five guys all the time.”

After Mike D’Antoni resigned one week ago as coach, everyone thought Lin would be taking a seat on the bench. With veteran point guard Baron Davis nursing a sore hamstring, Lin has maintained his spot in the lineup and seems to be settling into the job of running the team. He played much more under control and in the flow of the offense against the Raptors, committing just three turnovers.

“I just tried to be aggressive,” Lin said. “I’m not sure how many shots I took but I was trying to put pressure on the defense, and if it was open, it was open. I got some easy ones from other people looking for me. Melo, Landry (Fields) , those guys hit me with a couple of passes where I was open.”


MVP Ladder: The Two-Man Game

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — And there were two!

Yes, the KIA Race to the MVP Ladder contains 10 names every week. But this week, there are only two that we are focusing on. The top two, the two best players in the game right now and the two most unstoppable forces in the league on this day.

Take your pick between LeBron James and Kevin Durant, twin freaks of and forces of nature, as they continue to trample the competition this season. They had matching performances in the All-Star Game and then did it again last night, when they both dropped 38 in impressive road wins that kept their respective team’s, both atop the standings in their respective conferences, win-streaks alive. The Heat’s streak is nine straight, with all nine wins coming via double digits. The Thunder’s mark is seven straight.

Check out the list to see who sits where in the wake of All-Star Weekend — we lost a little Linsanity as momentum shifted towards Wade County.

And remember, this is a fluid list. You can play your way on or you can play your way off, but nothing is guaranteed.

LeBron, The Future And … Cleveland?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — NBA players remind me of political candidates during election season. They go from city to city, facing a media throng eager to pepper them with questions that usually result in answers that barely raise an eyebrow they’ve been given so many times.

Every now and then, though, you get something totally bizarre. And that’s exactly what the reporters covering the Miami Heat practice in Cleveland today got when they assembled to interview LeBron James after practice.

You have to wonder how these comments (courtesy of the Twitter feeds of both Tom Reed and Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer and Brian Windhorst of will go over with the faithful in both Cleveland and Miami? …

He’s happy in Miami, but: “I think it would be great, it would be fun to play in front of these fans again.”

On one day coming back to Cleveland: “You can’t predict future…If I decide to come back hopefully the fans will accept me.”

About Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert: “He said what he said out of anger. He probably would want to take that back but I made a mistake too.”

Again, the context in which these comments were made needs to be restated. James and the Heat are in Northeast Ohio and will have been for three days before Friday night’s game against the Cavaliers.

So if there is a little nostalgia floating in the air, we understand.

But talking like this so soon into his tenure in Miami, and so soon after the messy divorce  he went through with the Cavs’ faithful, is bound to strike a chord with some folks!

The bigger surprise is that James has actually entertained the idea of returning to his roots someday during his playing career. That alone is reason for pause … anyway, back to Linsanity!