The Houston Rockets fell to the San Antonio Spurs, 134-126, but that's not exactly the story that arose from the high-scoring affair. Jeremy Lin gave us a look at what we've been missing ever since he left New York to play with the Rockets.
Lin tied his career high by putting up 38 points in the overtime game against San Antonio, and he played up to the old billing of "Linsanity." He was the reason why the Rockets were in the game late, even though he was having a middling game by the time halftime rolled around.
Lin's 38 points were accompanied by three rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks in 42 big minutes, and it gave us a reason to question a lot about Lin.
As a highly controversial player in the NBA, everybody seems to have their own opinion about the sometimes-phenomenal Lin, and from that arise a handful of hyperbolic opinions, leaning toward him being great or him being a bum.
There are, however, a handful of egregious misconceptions about Lin that are in dire need of being debunked before they run rampant and take over his image totally.
In the three games before the San Antonio explosion, Lin was held to under 20 minutes twice and just 26 minutes in another game, all well under the 32 minutes per game that he's been averaging.
What was the reason for his absence? Toney Douglas' hot hand.
Douglas was on the floor for an average of 28 minutes in those three games, nearly more than 10 minutes above his average.
Simply stated, Lin played poorly in those game, while Douglas was having the best game of his life. There's no way you go back to Lin when the game starts getting close.
The following games seemed to be the Toronto Raptors grasping at straws as they got down big in both games.
Lin wasn't playing well, Douglas wasn't playing great, but he was a bit better, so there was some basis on leaving him in because of the Lakers game.
A few games where he earns more minutes isn't going to put Lin's job in jeopardy any more than a 38-point game against the Spurs means Linsanity is back.
Jeremy Lin has regressed to shooting just 38 percent from the field this season, that after being right around 45 percent a season ago. Likewise, his three-point shots are falling at a rate of just 27 percent compared to 32 percent last season.
Is Lin suddenly a bad shooter again, like he seemed to be in his days with Golden State? It doesn't seem that way.
Lin is doing what he needs to get his shots to fall. He's shooting a large portion of his shots right at the rim, while shooting poorly in the lane and limiting his bad jumpers, but still struggling from mid-range.
It seems it's become a comfort issue. After watching him go off against San Antonio, he was able to do so because of the groove he seemed to be in.
Other games he's coming out and looking like he feels like a second, third or fourth banana on the court when he's got the ability to play like a first option at times. He just needs to find and settle into his role.
After he left New York, a big wave of negativity flowed toward Jeremy Lin saying that, among other things, Lin is incapable of running the point.
He's a shot-happy point guard who turns the ball over too much and turns out to be too accident prone where others would be level-headed and more decisive.
You know what that sounds like to me? A young point guard learning to play the game.
In fact, that's exactly what Tyson Chandler said after Lin and New York parted ways (h/t Angel Diaz, complex.com):
Baron was hurt and Jeremy was a young point guard who was just learning and figuring out an offense. It was nothing against them and it was definitely nothing against Baron. Jeremy was a young point guard who was inexperienced, who brought a great light to the organization. But as far as being able to run the offense and putting players in the right position he just wasn’t there.
Does that mean Lin is damned? No, it means he's got to work on his game.
No point guard comes into the league and starts dropping eight and nine assists per game in his first year, and only a few do it by their second year.
In a way, Lin is just beginning his second year in the NBA, as this game against the Spurs marked his 84th game, and just his 44th as a starter.
He really is coming along, and we all know that he's a smart cat. Give him some time, and he'll be just fine.
This is my least favorite argument about Jeremy Lin, that he's a poor defender.
Once again, the instant fame has betrayed Lin and given him a reputation of being a poor defender, when in reality he's a streaky defender who makes positioning mistakes at time.
In other words (and like I've said before), he's still a young basketball player.
Lin has two distinct strengths on defense, and a few very obvious pitfalls—things he's going to have to work on moving forward.
As a quick fellow, Lin is incredibly adept at playing the passing lanes. He's averaging 1.8 steals per game, a progressively increasing number throughout his career.
Second, he's becoming a pretty good rebounder, for a man his size. He's not going to be averaging Jason Kidd-like rebounding numbers, but he's become very good at weaving in and out of the lane and picking up loose balls.
Where he needs to improve is his consistency. He'll be able to completely lock a guy down for a stretch at a time, but then he's got a lapse that leads to another lapse and suddenly his man is burning him.
He's still developing and learning how to play to his strengths as an NBA player. He isn't, after all, in the Ivy League (or D-League) anymore.
I think we learned from the Spurs-Rockets game that Linsanity is far from dead, just lying dormant waiting to strike us when we least expect.
In the end, it might be better for Lin to have moderately good games (like he's able to control his awesomeness) as he continues to improve so the story will be, "Look how Lin's improving," instead of "Linsanity is back; LeBron James, look out!"
It gives him a low profile and keeps his head out of the line of fire, but that's not really something he can control.
The reality is that Lin is a player who can roll along on a huge streak of momentum and end up putting 30 points on the board, just like a third of the players in the league can.
Give him some space, allow a few threes to fall and give him a corner or two to the rim and he's off and running, and the big story of the next morning is about the return of Linsanity.
So long as he's getting minutes, Linsanity is never out of the question.