His Rockets take on the New York Knicks, the same team that opted to let him leave via free agency over the summer. Of course, this was after he became an overnight sensation in New York, and most of the higher-ups had implied that he would return.
But Lin didn't return. A $25.1 million payday over three years proved to be too much for the Knicks' front office to justify giving to someone who was a star for just nine games last year. They thus chose to let him go to Houston, and instead go with a more experienced option in Raymond Felton at the point.
It has proven to be a good decision for the Knicks, as Lin has struggled this season. He is averaging 6.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game, but his scoring has been surprisingly low. Lin is averaging just 10 points per contest and shooting just 33 percent from the field.
Lin is still in a perfect position to break out of that slump tonight. Despite his slow start, he has shown a great deal of drive and determination on the court and has not let his stats bog him down. He even told Ian O'Connor of ESPNNewYork.com that he still thinks he can be an All-Star some day.
That is why it is so important that Lin have a good game against the Knicks. The stage is set for the ultimate revenge game. He has the home-court advantage, and is playing the team that essentially passed on him for financial reasons, plus a kooky owner.
But what if Lin doesn't perform well? He'll have proved the critics right and the Knicks will know they made the right decision.
Thus, if he has any pride as a player whatsoever, Lin will be selfish tonight, but in the good way. Forget about focusing on setting plays for Harden, or finding the open man, or hesitating on a shot. All he has to do is play the game.
That isn't to say that Lin should follow all impulses. He just needs to remember that he is in the NBA for a reason and that he has what it takes to play with the elite, even if he wasn't drafted.
He doesn't even need to lead Houston to victory tonight, in all honesty. While a win would be nice, Lin really just needs one good game to get his confidence back. This is not hard to do, as he knows how Knicks coach Mike Woodson's system works, having played in it following Mike D'Antoni's resignation last season.
Just having a good all-around night will be the bump Lin needs to move forward. He has to not be a lamb tonight and instead play like a lion. The Rockets brought him in to be the leader of the team, and it's time he started playing like one.
If the Knicks are able to shut him down and take him out of the game, however, it could very well prolong Lin's offensive funk. Unless he plays a little angry ball tonight and looks to prove to the Knicks that he was worth all that money, then it's going to be pretty clear that his pride and confidence are low.
Should it come to that point, Houston GM Daryl Morey may be wise to start considering other options at point guard.
All statistics accurate as of November 23, 2012
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