Jeremy Lin spent the final minutes of the fourth quarter on the bench as the Houston Rockets, depending on James Harden to hit the game winner, defeated the San Antonio Spurs 96-95. The Rockets are trying to advance to the playoffs and are currently in seventh place in the Western Conference. Was Coach Kevin McHale right in sitting down his starting guard instead of letting him muscle out a slow start?
Lin should be getting as much crucial playing time as he can since it will only help him learn how to become an effective player even when he's having an off night. Lin finished the game with six points after going 2-8 from the floor with five assists and four turnovers. McHale switched over to Patrick Beverley who had the hot hand going 4-6 from the floor and 2-3 from beyond the arc.
Do I disagree with McHale's move? Not at all. Lin could use some time off as they get closer to the playoffs. It became Harden's team once he arrived, so having the bearded guard running the offense is more crucial for the Rockets (only if they win of course). He proved this by sinking another game-winning jumper late in the game. With 4.5 seconds and his Rockets trailing by one point, Harden sunk an off balance jumper. It gave the Rockets the win helping them avoid a season sweep to the first-place Spurs.
Lin was on the bench looking on. Though probably frustrated since he preferred to be on the floor, his struggles were evident especially late in the game. Lin began fouling, picking up two quick calls before being removed. Unless done deliberately, when players start fouling, it's usually a sign of fatigue. If Coach McHale can get good basketball from Beverley, then he could be a good choice for the point guard position as Lin gets to rest his legs as the Rockets get ready to hit the playoffs.
Lin doesn't have to be a superstar. I've never believed he was superstar material since the numbers he put up with the New York Knicks last season were bloated because opponents were unfamiliar with his style of basketball. Lin has talent, but he doesn't have to carry the load, especially since the Rockets acquired Harden, who brings championship experience to the Rockets.
More important than having or not having stars on the floor, the Rockets are attempting to make the playoffs. Currently, they are sitting in seventh place looking to advance over a struggling Golden State Warriors who are in possession of sixth place. The Rockets are only trailing the Warriors by .5 games.
The Rockets have a tough stretch of games ahead as they face playoff teams. They have the Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers in their next three meetings.
It will be interesting to see how McHale handles Lin as the season winds down. Will Lin see more time on the bench or will McHale let him game necessary experience on the floor as the Rockets continue to push for the playoffs?