Time sure does fly by. It seemed like yesterday that Jeremy Lin was captivating the world with his incredible story and rise in the NBA for the New York Knicks, but that was 20 months ago. As the Houston Rockets make their lone visit to Madison Square Garden Thursday night, Lin hopes to play a big part in helping the Rockets get back on track admist their early season struggles.
While Lin’s first return to the Garden last season resulted in a great 22-point, 9-assist performance in a Rockets win, coach Kevin McHale can only hope that his team can come out on top following Wednesday night’s 123-117 heartbreaking loss in overtime to the Philadelphia 76ers.
For Lin himself, the past 20 months have been a whirlwind, going from one of the faces of the NBA, to the subject of much criticism following his departure from the Knicks, and an inconsistent first season with the Rockets, that ended in a horrendous performance in the playoffs due to a chest injury. Add in the fact that Patrick Beverley was named the starting point guard to begin the season, and it seemed like things would be going downhill. But Lin’s perspective and attitude kept him focused:
“Two years ago, I was just trying to make it, hoping I would be on a team. Fifteenth man, it didn’t even matter to me—just as long as I’m on the team. I always try to take a step back and remember the journey from a bigger picture.”
Now, as the team’s 6th man, he has excelled, averaging 18.2 points, while shooting a remarkable 54 percent from the field, including 51 percent from behind the 3-point line. Lin has been open talking about about his new role:
“It’s not like just because you start you’re going to finish. I think last year I started and there were plenty of games I didn’t finish. That’s just part of the game. In terms of finishing the game, I didn’t think starting versus not starting would determine that.”
“In the beginning of last year, we saw some huge struggles with me and James(Harden), not just me and James, but everybody trying to mesh together. I think this year, it’s not like we don’t have any of those issues. There are still chemistry problems, not like problems, but still things we’re trying to get better in terms of adding Dwight(Howard) to the team. We’re always trying to find ways to play better with each other, but there’s no personality or issues, like people not getting along with people. Me and James still play a lot together, but they do want me to be aggressive, an X factor, primary ball handler off the bench. So with this team, that’s the role they’ve assigned me.”
‘Linsanity’ may be a thing of the past, but there have certainly been revival moments from Lin so far. He scored 31 points in the Rockets double-overtime win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday, and exploded for 34 points and 12 assists, including a career high 9 made 3-pointers against the Sixers Wednesday night. With Harden and Chandler Parsons struggling at the moment with injuries of their own, Thursday night could very well be a return to ‘Linsanity’ on a national stage.
Tip: 7:00 PM CST
Tickets: Rockets vs. Knicks tickets