Harden Leads Good Team Win Against the Hornets

Started slow and ended slow. Rockets still need to work on doing a better job of closing out games. Parsons, once again, hit some clutch shots (even though he only shot 4 of 14 for the game) to secure the lead for the Rockets. And, once again, the Rockets struggled in the final few minutes of the game.

Looks like Lin still hasn’t recovered from that air ball against Miami, because nothing was falling for him tonight. He took good shots. They just didn’t fall. But it was good to see him take those shots early on. When they didn’t fall, Lin stopped shooting. Can’t blame him for that.

I was surprised that Sampson didn’t bench Lin tonight, because Douglas had his best game of the season and I don’t think Sampson is such a big fan of Lin. Douglas was feeling it tonight, so I don’t think anyone would have blamed Sampson for benching Lin. I thought Sampson did a strange job of managing Lin’s minutes tonight. He would rest him for long stretches, which made sense, but then he  ended up leaving Lin in for the entire fourth quarter. At first, I thought he was planning on playing Lin at the beginning of the fourth quarter in order to take Lin out in the final five minutes or so of the game in favor of Douglas or something. But he didn’t. Sampson left Lin out there the entire fourth quarter until the final possession or so. That didn’t make too much sense to me. But I’m glad Sampson didn’t bench Lin in the final five minutes like I expected him to. That would have been a huge blow to Lin’s already vulnerable state of mind.

Overall, Lin probably should have had at least three or four more assists, since he gave his teammates the ball in great places, but his teammates just couldn’t convert. Overall, though, I didn’t think Lin played very well tonight. He’s still struggling and playing too passively. He’s still not doing and PnRs, while Harden did quite a few. His only great stat of the night was 3 steals (which was the entire Rockets total) and 1 block shot.

It was good to see Greg Smith out there and it was great to see Morris maintaining his great shooting. Harden also had another great game and so did Asik. Overall, I thought we moved the ball well tonight, except for during the fourth quarter. Just need to work on closing games and also coming out strong. I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get Lin out of his slump. He’s just not playing his game at all. That’s why he’s struggling. My big question is that I don’t know if he’s not playing his game because of his own doing or the coaching staff want him to take on a roll that does not play to his strengths.




30 thoughts on “Harden Leads Good Team Win Against the Hornets

  1. Yeah, I don’t know what was up with Lin tonight. I think pretty much everyone seemed to be asking that. Maybe Sampson was trying out Lin for 4th quarter since that was his strongest quarter last year?

    Also of note, god, they were fouling him all over the place (poke in the eye, etc) and nothing got called; that’s gotta be rough. Dunno if that affected his shot at all because he got fouled hard last year as well and managed to shake it off.

    • I think Lin’s problem is that he’s not playing the game he knows how to play and I just keep going back to whether or not it’s his own doing or it’s that of the coaching staff’s. You can’t do well if you’re not playing your game. This happens to every player. For example, Carmelo Anthony struggled mightily last year for a couple of months (one could argue he struggled the entire time D’Antoni was the coach), because D’Antoni was trying to get Carmelo to be a different type of player. Now, I think Lin is more flexible than Carmelo, but I think similar principles apply. Lin needs to play aggressively in order to play his game. Once he is playing his game, his shots will fall, because he’ll be in rhythm. Right now, he’s not playing his game at all and so he’s completely out of rhythm.

      I don’t think the hard fouls affect Lin much. He doesn’t have a problem shaking those off. He struggled with his shots at the open when he got so many good looks and couldn’t make any of them. I think that had more to do with the air ball in Miami still messing with his psyche.

      I suspect that Sampson sort of lost track of Lin in the line up and then realized that he had Lin on the bench for quite a while so he put Lin in to begin the fourth quarter. Then he kept Lin in, against his better judgment, because he didn’t want to hurt Lin’s confidence by benching him at the end of the game, since he knows Lin suffered a big blow with that air ball. But that’s just a pure guess on my part.

    • Here is what I’ve managed to post on Youtube.
      I have slowed things down to about 60% of the normal speed for better observation.
      My comment is in the description of the video.
      Feel free to post your thoughts there or here.
      Your comments on Youtube will be read by more people, I believe. That is if you care to share your opinion with the virtual world!

      And don’t forget to give me some “like”! 🙂


  2. youtube clutchfans and you’ll see a video of samson talking about LIn’s air ball against miami. samson says he loves Lin…but if he loves him so much, why doesn’t he put him in a position to succeed?
    Here’s a quote from samson after tonight’s game: I want Lin to have that confidence because I have confidence in him.

    I think you’re right, i think the issue is more lin than the coaches refusing to play him the right way. I don’t think they trust/believe in him completely as a basketball player but I can’t keep blaming them for everything. I think the main issue is Lin and his confidence.

    I really hope he he improves.

    • I think Sampson loves Lin as a person, but I don’t think Sampson is a fan of Lin’s game. However, I think that Sampson was really touched by the fact that Lin came into his office to apologize for the air ball. When the reporter asked Sampson if he’s ever had any player do that. Sampson couldn’t recall. So I think that was a big deal to Sampson and has probably made Sampson respect Lin more. So I think that will help Lin’s relationship with Sampson. It could perhaps be why Sampson didn’t bench Lin at the end of the game in favor of Douglas who was a better player tonight. So Lin’s apology could be a turning point in Lin’s relationship to Sampson. I’m not saying that the had a bad relationship. I’m just staying that maybe Sampson respects Lin more now because of that apology. But Lin needs to build on it. If Lin continues to struggle, that good will won’t last.

      During Linsanity, Lin had a sense of urgency, because it was either perform or never play in the NBA again. This year, things are a lot more different for Lin. He knows his job is secure and that he has time to figure things out. So there’s no sense of urgency. I think Lin may just be taking his time to find his game. And since Harden is there, he doesn’t feel like he has to be the one to be aggressive and make plays. And, more importantly, his coach and players perhaps are not looking to him to play that role. I think Lin is just trying to do whatever he can to help the team and make the easy plays.

      In the very beginning, even before Harden’s arrival, coach McHale really emphasized that Lin needs to make the easy plays and Parsons reinforced it. At the time I guessed that this could mean that McHale wants Lin to be more of a passer and not play aggressively and turn the ball over. So I think that could be what Lin is working on. Just making the easy passes, giving his teammates the ball where they want it. Making the “hockey assist” (the pass that leads to an assist). But being a perimeter passer is not Lin’s game, so he’s out of rhythm and his shooting is suffering as a result (shooting is all about rhythm). This is the scenario that I’m concerned about. That the coaching staff want Lin to play a brand of basketball that Lin doesn’t excel at. And as a result, he’s out of rhythm and the more he suffers the more responsibilities they’ll take away from him and the more his teammates will look him off. And it becomes this vicious cycle. But I’m optimistic that Lin and the coaching staff are still just figuring things out and that there’s constant communication about what works and what doesn’t work for Lin. So it’s just a matter of time. And if they can’t work it out, Lin will get traded to a place where hopefully he can succeed. But I still think the Rockets is the ideal place for Lin. i can’t think of a better situation at the moment. Lin just needs to get that sense of urgency again, which I’m sure he will if he continues to struggle.

      • I totally agree. I think Sampson loves Lin as a player but isn’t his biggest basketball fan. I also agree with you on vicious cycle thing…i could see it happening.

  3. what are your thoughts on this quote from sampson, especially the part where he talks about pnr’s: I thought Jeremy Lin especially was tough on defense tonight. Jeremy is tough; he doesn’t get enough credit for that. He sticks his nose in there and gets on the floor after loose balls and is always in good position and he moves the ball, too. As the season goes on, we’d like to get Jeremy more involved in pick-and-rolls. Teams just on him and force him to his left hand a lot and Jeremy is not as effective going left as he is going right. But as individual development he’s got to continue to work on that left hand so we can play pick-and-roll with him to different sides of the floor.

    I didn’t think Jeremy took a bad shot all night. I liked every shot he attempted. I always look at him and give him a little fist bump and tell him, ‘Keep shooting, hoss – the next one will go in.’ I want him to have that confidence because I have that confidence in him. He’s had games this year, I’m thinking about the Atlanta and Detroit games on the road – Jeremy has had games where he’s made those shots. But he’s not what you would call a pure shooter. He’s more of a streak shooter so he’ll have those streaks where he makes those.

    Here are my thoughts: i don’t know if sampson is praising the kid or ripping him. How can he improve going left with the pnr if they don’t even give him the opportunity to try it? streak shooter? what kind of a coach calls someone out on that?!?! Also, Sampson is lying if he says he’s telling Lin to keep shooting. He’s only taking 8 shots a night!!!! If you really believed in Lin’s shooting ability, you’d tell him to take more than 8 shots a night. they’d s.hit their pants if he went 4-15 or 5-20. This s.hit pisses me off, WTF.

    • I wondered, listening to it, if they have guys reading the CF forums and if he said it knowing that it’d appease certain fans. I dunno, there was just something in his pauses that, simply listening to it, raised my eyebrows.

    • With public interviews, it’s always up for interpretation, but my takeaway was that Sampson was being completely genuine and his comments painted Lin in a good light. The key to why I felt his comments were genuine is because he brought up Lin to talk about himself. It wasn’t a question from the interviewer. He wouldn’t have brought Lin up himself if there wasn’t something genuine he wanted to say about Lin. I don’t think Sampson was ripping Lin at all. Again, I think that apology from Lin really meant a lot to Sampson and now Sampson has become Lin’s supporter. I think Sampson’s encouragement of Lin to keep shooting open looks is genuine. I think Lin, himself, stopped taking open shots, because he didn’t feel confident in his shot after missing so many. Of course, they don’t want Lin taking bad shots, but they’re fine with Lin taking good shots. Lin takes fewer shots this season, because he’s not the number 1 option. He’s not even a number 2 option. He’s just playing a facilitator role. But if he happens to have an open shot or a good look or has an open lane, then the coaches encourage him to take those shots. That’s what Sampson means. So I don’t think he’s lying. Also, the streak shooter comment is not really Sampson calling Lin out. On the contrary, I think it’s more Sampson protecting Lin for his recent struggles. Sampson is conveying to interviewers that Lin’s struggles from the field aren’t anything to fixate on, because Lin’s not a pure shooter. In other words, shooting is not Lin’s “thing” so it shouldn’t be shocking that he’s been struggling with his shot. No need to make a big deal out of it.

      From the interview, I got my answer about the reason why Lin’s not doing PnRs. It’s the coaches that don’t trust him in the PnR, yet. So that’s unfortunate. But it’s a positive sign that they’re saying that they want to get him to do more PnRs in the future. We’ll see how genuine that is. If it’s not, then I think we may see Lin in that vicious cycle, unless Lin somehow figure out a way to change his game. That’s very difficult to do.

      • Weren’t there times when Lin used his left hand/went left with the pick n roll last year? He did. I feel like they’re using that as an excuse. How much improvement does he have to show before they start “trusting” him? They’re coaches, isn’t it their job to draw up other plays that’ll help his confidence? The best way to get someone’s confidence up is to create plays for them/put them in a position to succeed…even if it’s just a couple plays. You’re not going to increase someone’s confidence by telling them you’re not going to set plays/run pnr’s for them because they can’t go left.

        It just doesn’t make sense. To me, they make it seem like he’s never gone left before and he’s terrible at it…but he did it NY. I know he worked on his left ball handling skills/going left during the off season, so he knows that something he needs to improve on but that comment rubbed me the wrong way.

      • Yeah, I think they are using the “going left” thing as an excuse. I think they just want Lin to just make passes for now for whatever reason. If I was thinking positively, then I would reason that they are teaching Lin to slow down. Make the easy plays and then slowly incorporate the PnR back into Lin’s game in order for him to build a solid base, because last season, Lin was more or less just winging it. Using his instincts and Lin only used one speed. That makes for a very short, injury-prone career. When Kidd joined the Knicks, thinking that he would mentor Lin, the first comment Kidd made was that he wants to teach Lin to slow down and learn to play in different gears. So the best case scenario is that I think that’s what the Houston coaching staff is doing. And they have the luxury of taking their time with Lin, because they have Harden. The worst case scenario is that they want to change Lin’s game. But that doesn’t really make sense to me, because I don’t know what incentive they would have to change Lin’s game. The only reason I can think of is that they want Lin to just be the person to move the ball and for Harden to be the sole play maker. That’s what Lin’s role is now. That’s why coach Sampson complimented Lin for moving the ball. So I think at the moment, Lin is fulfilling his role for the Rockets. So even though Lin fans and people outside of the Houston organization may think Lin is failing, the people inside the organization may be pretty happy with what Lin is doing for the most part. And the bonus is that he’s become quite a defensive force and that maybe something they hadn’t expected.

        I guess it’ll be a couple months or so before we figure out what the real intentions of the Rockets coaching staff is for Lin. If they start having him do more PnRs, then that would be a great sign.

    • Great analysis. I haven’t been very good about gathering intelligence on Jeremy Lin, so really appreciate these links, emz!

      I’ve always thought Jeremy Lin’s defense was underrated. But this year, Lin has definitely stepped it up another level and has become an excellent defender. I think some of it has to do with the fact that he’s not expending much energy on the offensive end, so he’s putting a lot more effort on the defensive end.

      • but along the same lines, I wonder if he’s gassed on offense because of how much effort he’s putting on defense. Hard to say, either way, at the end of the day, since we’re not him.

      • No. I think his offensive struggle has everything to do with the fact that he’s not playing his brand of basketball and is out of rhythm. Shooting is all about rhythm.

    • Thanks for the article, EMZ! I am counting on you to provide us with good articles from now on! 🙂

      Everybody seems to agree that Lin is struggling offensively, not playing his “natural” aggressive style. I’d like to focus on the positives: Lin is playing aggressive defense! Sometime you have to gamble and help out in defense and leave your man open. More than often this is a mistake, especially if your man is “good”.

      Part of the training (in any sports) is to discipline yourself to stick to what is fundamental sound for the sports and thus avoid the common pitfalls. You win some and lose some. But overall, the law of statistics rules: you will come out ahead by adhering to tried-and-true winning principles and strategies of the sports.

      Lin is young and still inexperienced in many ways. He acknowledges that. And he repeatedly states that he is learning and working on improving his game. Problems cannot solved in one day or in one game. It will take time, even for talented players like Lin. From his track records, I have plenty of reasons to believe that Lin will keep getter better and succeed.

  4. Just imagine if Lin was still on the Knicks. Woodson basically kept all of D’antoni’s offense and has given Felton full reign, chucking to his heart’s desire…that could have been Lin. Makes me a little sad. HOU on the other hand, has him on a leash and won’t set plays for him until he improves his left hand. I know that Kidd is the real PG, head honcho of the team (he’s been awesome, bringing the knicks to life in the 4th) but I wonder what could have been. Oh well, hope the Knicks fail the rest of the season.

    • Yeah, it’s hard to say. But I can’t imagine Lin being very happy in the hostile Knicks environment with a coach that doesn’t respect him or care for him and players who are jealous of him. I think Lin’s struggles have to do more with his psyche, so he might be struggling no matter what team he plays for. And I think if he struggled with the Knicks, it would be tougher on him to cope. I feel like the Rockets are giving him time and space to work through his struggles and they don’t expect great things from him (which might not be a good thing), but at least he isn’t being crucified for it by the Rockets organization. Also, if my hypothesis scenario for the best case scenario of how the Rockets are trying to have Lin build a solid foundation by teaching him to play at different speeds is true, then I think the Rockets is an ideal place for him. If you’re a fan of Lin’s who wants him to have a long and fulfilling career, then that would definitely be a good thing. So, as Lin fans, we just need to look at the bigger picture and think in terms of months or years, rather than days and weeks. It took Nash five years to even be much of anything. And now everyone considers him to be a great Point Guard. The Point Guard position, in my view, is probably the most difficult position to learn. I’ve heard that Lin didn’t play the point in college. So if that’s true then Lin has had very little experience playing the Point. And he himself keeps reiterating about how much he still has to learn. So maybe the Rockets are just building up his Point Guard skills slowly. I think you can argue that it’s not so necessary to take things so slowly with Lin, since he is already very good at it. But for now, I’ll give the Rockets the benefit of the doubt. Again, I’m optimistic that they know more about Lin’s game than I do and I’m optimistic that Lin is talking to his coaches and telling them what he needs to be successful. Now this doesn’t mean that the coaches will do everything to make Lin successful. Their goal is to figure out a balance between doing what’s best for a player and what’s best for the team. Sometimes they’re the same things, but not necessarily.

    • Hey CW, what do you think of this script?

      Game after game, Lin never seems to have regained his confidence. Lin’s fans can’t seem to bear watching Lin struggling just to get some playing time. Tony Douglas has become the starting point guard for the Rockets… There is nothing the Philosopher can say to motivate the troops.

      Friday, November 23, after Thanksgiving sale day, the Knicks, the only unbeaten team in the NBA, invade Red Nation. Lin commits zero TO because he is sitting on the bench for the whole 48 minutes. The Rockets are crushed. The good thing is nobody can blame Lin for playing bad.

      December 17, the Knicks, still unbeaten, host Harden and the Rockets. Lin almost misses the flight to New York because he has been too busy counseling Royce White. Then, TD mysteriously comes down with a nasty cold. Lin gets to play! It’s Linsanity redux! The MSG crowd goes nuts. “MVP, MVP, MVP…” nobody knows if that’s for Carmelo or for JLin…

      17 seconds left in the game, the Rockets are down by 1, Lin has the ball, drives to the basket… Kidd, in desperation, tries to grab Lin hair, but Lin’s hair just slips through Kidd’s fingers: Lin has wetted his hair with Vaseline Intensive Care in anticipation of Kidd’s (in)famous defense tactics. AND-ONE! The MSG crowd goes wild. Lin calmly sinks his free throw, improving his FT percentage to 17%. Not bad for a marginal player.

      7 seconds left on the clock! The Knicks call time out, down by 2. Woodson draws up a secret play designed for Carmelo to iso all the way. 5… 4… 3… Carmelo pulls the trigger, Lin sneezes, AIR BALLl!

      Lin has somehow contracted the cold from TD. Lin rushes to apologize to Carmelo but Carmelo runs away because he does not want to contract the nasty cold virus.

      The Knicks go from unbeaten to never win a single game again for the rest of the season. This particular season is recorded in NBA history as Sneezanity!

      May The Lin Be With Y’all!

      • i appreciate you guys! sorry, i’m a doom and gloom kind of person because I don’t trust the basketball community that’s failed Lin so many times. He’s been overlooked his entire career, it’s not right and I feel like the rockets have continued that tradition of not respecting/fully believing in him.

        jeff van gundy was interviewed and he said that he wished he wouldn’t have tried to force players to play a certain way but rather just let the player be himself/play natural position. This could be an issue with the rockets coaching staff and Lin. This is what I fear most. I know they want him to work on his weaknesses but to say that he needs to improve on something before they set plays for him is wrong and doesn’t exactly promote confidence. Coaches can be wrong too. JVG proved it by making that statement.

      • No problem. Trust me, I’m also pretty frustrated with Lin, but I try to look at the bigger picture and understand all the different perspectives. I’m less frustrated now, knowing that it’s the coaches who are instructing Lin not to do PnRs. So Lin is just doing his job and I think he’s doing his job pretty well now that I know the situation.

        I think Lin didn’t get off to a good start with the Rockets for whatever reason (I speculated on the reasons in a previous post about Lin’s struggles). As a result, he hasn’t gotten the benefit of the doubt and is having to prove himself. Can’t really blame the Rockets, since I think it was Lin’s own doing (some of it was just something he couldn’t really do much about (e.g., his knee recovery)) that caused his poor start with the Rockets.

        Yeah, my fear with the Rockets is that they’re trying to make Lin play a game he doesn’t excel at. But I’m not sure why they would do that, since it would benefit the team to have two play makers. So I don’t think that’s what’s going on. I think they’re just taking their time to develop Lin’s PG skills slowly so that he has a solid foundation from which to build. We’ll see though.

      • Y’all know I was joking when I scripted that Lin was benched in favor of TD, right? Now the script will change for the better, since Sampson, the Assistant Coach, just came out as an FEB.

      • Sorry, I meant FEP (Flat Earth People) but typed FEB. I guess I was thinking of MIB! Freudian Slip! My bad… :$

  5. Philosopher, you’ll be at the game tonight, right? Be sure to videotape a few plays and share with us if you can.

    Level headed basketball pundits and Rockets fans at TheDreamShake.com are hedging their reputation and predicting a win by the Blazers. Delusional fan like myself has no problem predicting a Rockets win based on nothing but the old adage ‘payback time’!

    Can’t wait to see how Lin deals with Lillard this time around!
    And of course, Tony Douglas will stop Lillard! 😉

    • Yep. I’ll be at the game tonight, but I’m not as excited as I was when I got those tix, knowing that Lin won’t be playing Lin’s game for quite some time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited. Just not as excited.

      My only recording devise is an old smart phone that I don’t use for talking anymore that quickly runs out of juice. So not sure if I’ll have much luck recording the game, but I’ll give it a shot.

      It’s definitely payback time for the game that the Blazers stole from us. Lin could have been the hero if it weren’t for the defensive mistake by Harden of double-teaming Aldridge and leaving his man wide open for the three that tied the game and killed our momentum. I feel like ever since that game, Lin has been regressing. But maybe it’s because ever since that game, the coaches have had more practices and are telling Lin to stop doing PnRs. Notice that after the first two games of the season, Lin and Harden stopped having any chemistry. I think it’s because they started having practices and the coaches wanted Lin to take a step back to focus more on developing Harden.

      • Hold on to your seat and your old smartphone, Philosopher! It’s gonna be a fun ride tonight!

        Have fun and do write about the game afterwards. I’ve always enjoyed reading your game analysis.

      • Philosopher, what did I tell you? Wasn’t it a “fun” ride? It was even more fun to find out for sure that Sampson, the Assistant Coach, is a closet, FEP.

      • FEP indeed. God, there were no excuse not to sub Lin in for the last two min of OT.


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