On this day six years ago, Jeremy Lin’s contributions off the bench helped the Houston Rockets stave off defeat, as they extended their series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey made splash moves in consecutive seasons between 2012-2014, as the Rockets reeled in both James Harden and Dwight Howard, giving them a Hall of Fame duo. These moves were equally impressive considering how the Rockets lacked a star player during the 2011-12 season, which was just one season before they landed Harden.
It was also miraculous how they were able to land Harden, because they didn’t have an equal player to give up in the deal, nor did the have the necessary assets to compile a fair package to send to Oklahoma City. But the Thunder were hell-bent on moving Harden, so they were willing to to settle on Kevin Martin and draft capital, although the Rockets’ picks were much later in the draft.
The Rockets won 54 games during Howard’s first season in the Space City, which landed a first round matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers. But one player that got largely overlooked during that season was Jeremy Lin, who unselfishly moved to a reserve role, despite being the Rockets’ third-leading scorer in the previous season.
Lin gave the Rockets firepower off the bench, as he averaged 12.5 points per game on 35.8 percent from 3-point range, while also adding 4.1 assists per night. Lin also turned in a stellar performance on April 30th, which happened to be Game 5 of the Rockets’ opening round series against Portland.
With the Rockets facing elimination, Lin raised his level of play, and was determined not to let the Rockets’ season end. In that game, James Harden and Chandler Parsons struggled to find their shot, as they went a combined 13-of-37 from the field and 4-of-15 from long-range, which forced Lin to pick up the slack.
The national fan favorite gave us all yet another dose of Linsanity, as he finished with 21 points, which was second behind only Dwight Howard. Lin went 9-of-15 from the floor and 2-of-5 from long range, which gave him a true shooting percentage of 68 percent.
This was higher than each of the Rockets’ starters, and his effective field goal percentage was 66.7 percent, which was also higher than each of the Rockets starters. Lin added four assists and two steals, which were both second-best on the team, behind only James Harden.
Lin had the hot hand, which forced coach Kevin McHale to give him more minutes than Patrick Beverley, who was the starter at the time. All in all, Lin played 30 minutes, compared to Beverley’s 21 minutes.
On that day, the Houston Rockets won 108-98, and lived to see another game in the series. But ultimately it wouldn’t have happened were it not for Lin’s contributions.