Best and Worst of Jeremy Lin's Houston Rockets Season so Far

Tim Collins@@TimDCollinsFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2012

Best and Worst of Jeremy Lin's Houston Rockets Season so Far

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    Jeremy Lin has had a tough start to his career in Houston. With "Linsanity" now sent to the safe confines of history, Lin is playing to a more realistic level.

    However, in reality, was any other outcome at all likely?

    By exploding onto the stage with New York last season, Lin set the bar for himself so high, that anything short of All-Star caliber play this season was going to be seen as a disappointment.

    The impact of his performances with the Knicks was amplified by the fact he was a virtual unknown. With absolutely nothing in the way of expectation, Lin blew the NBA world away with performances normally reserved for stars of the league.

    Now, with expectation weighing him down, Lin simply can't "wow" onlookers in the same way he once did.

    There certainly have been some highs, with notable games from Lin so far this season. However, the arrival of James Harden has definitely stripped him of a leading role with the Rockets.

    Consequently, there have been some significant lows as well.

    In an alternating sequence, here's a list of both.

Low: Air Ball Game-Winning Attempt Against Miami

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    Badly clunking one off the rim when attempting a game-winning shot is one thing. Air-balling one in that situation is an entirely different matter.

    Yet, that's exactly what Lin did on Nov. 12 at home to the defending champion Miami Heat.

    After an extremely poor game, which saw Lin compile just nine points, six assists and one rebound, the Rockets had a shot to win the game with their last possession.

    Trailing 111-110 with 18.6 seconds left, Harden swung a long pass to Chandler Parsons in the corner, who quickly gave it off to Lin who was wide open on the wing.

    Although he's not an elite perimeter marksman, it was a look that should have resulted in a basket (or a narrow miss at the very least).

    Instead, Lin's attempt fell a foot short of the rim, allowing the Heat to eventually escape with a 113-110 win.

High: Backcourt Domination in Atlanta

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    In just their second game together, Lin and Harden proved what a devastating backcourt combination they can be by destroying Atlanta on Nov. 2.

    Although Harden's 45-point performance ended up stealing the show, Lin was equally impressive, recording a near triple-double to help steer his team to a comfortable road victory against the Hawks.

    With a dynamic shooting guard by his side, Lin put together 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in his first notable performance as a Rocket.

    He slashed to the basket, got to the line eight times, and hit two of his three attempts from deep to round out a wonderfully complete performance.

    The final seven-point margin at the end of the game didn't truly reflect Lin and Harden's domination, as they led by by double-figures for much of the game. 

Low: Night on the Bench with Dallas in Town

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    Lin experienced the wrath of his coach for the first time in his career on Dec. 8 at home to Dallas.

    Against the Mavericks, Lin saw just 18 minutes of court time, as Kevin McHale opted to use reserve point guard Toney Douglas for the majority of the night.

    In his limited time, Lin put up just seven points, two rebounds and three assists, saying after the game that he was "disappointed in [his] effort," according to FantasySP.

    The benching of Lin was likely due to the run of poor form he had shown leading up to Dallas' visit to the Toyota Center. In three of the four games prior, Lin had combined for an enormously disappointing 14 points and 15 assists in a total of 87 minutes.

    That included his terrible six-point, three-turnover effort in 41 minutes at Oklahoma City, which saw the team blown out by 22. 

    The game was a definite wake-up call, as the heavily scrutinized point guard turned it around in the very next game.

High: The Duel with Tony Parker

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    Coming off that extended bench time against Dallas, Lin put on a show two nights later.

    His outburst on Dec. 10 against San Antonio marked the first time he'd made more than 10 field goals in a game since his 28-point, 14-assist performance against Dallas on Feb. 19 last season.

    With Harden sitting out with a sprained right ankle, Lin took it upon himself to be the leader of his team.

    Coming up against the veteran Tony Parker, Lin had a fascinating point guard show down with the Spurs' floor general.

    Although Parker recorded a triple-double with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists, Lin never backed down. By the end of the night, Lin had 38 points and seven assists, which included 4-of-5 from deep and a perfect 12-of-12 at the line.

    Although the Rockets ended up going down 134-126 in overtime, Lin showed what he can do when he has no choice but to shoulder his team's heavy lifting.

Low: Torrid Night in Oklahoma City

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    The Rockets' dismantling by the Thunder on Nov. 28 was most notable for the torrid evening endured by James Harden in his return to Oklahoma City.

    Yet amid Harden's difficult night, Lin's incredibly timid performance in that game was overshadowed.

    In 41 minutes, Lin took just seven shots on his way to a disheartening six-point, eight-assist performance that included three turnovers in a blowout loss.

    With his backcourt partner struggling, Lin needed to exert some influence and reduce the load on Harden. Instead, he deferred to his teammates all night, doing little to prevent a drubbing at the hands of a league heavyweight. 

    This game was also the start of a miserable stretch for Lin—a stretch that saw him put up more than 10 points in only three of his next 10 games.

High: Return to Madison Square Garden

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    Lin's return to New York was always going to be one of the most unmissable games of the NBA season. Pleasingly for Lin, he didn't let us down.

    22 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals, whilst going 9-of-15 from the floor, was a fantastic return to Madison Square Garden.

    Impressively, Lin attacked the basket in the manner that blew people away last season, making five of his nine baskets in the paint or at the rim.

    He added a number of crafty assists as well, with his flick back to Omer Asik for a dunk, as he fell out of court sticking in the memory bank in particular. 

    Additionally, the Rockets comfortably defeated the high-flying Knicks on the night, elevating themselves above .500 to 13-12. In the immensely hard-fought Western Conference, the Rockets now sit ahead of Utah, Dallas and Portland in a battle for the West's last two playoff spots.

    Lin clearly feels at home when playing at the Garden.