Jeremy Lin Gives His Best Tony Delk Impression
Lin has been some good, some bad for the entire season. Mostly, he's been good. A great offseason acquisition, makes you wonder why some teams like the Chicago Bulls didn't go after him. I think most NBA teams pushing for a playoff spot would rather have Lin than say, oh I don't know, Aaron Brooks?
A lot of people love what Lin does. Many want him to have his chance to start, next year he very well could get that shot somewhere. For now, he's perfect off the bench. He brings a spark both in his determination to play hard and, when he's on, to score. It's a great scenario that always Lin to play multiple positions with multiple lineups and get rest for other important players like Nicolas Batum and Kemba Walker.
Tonight, Lin did a whole lot of good things. Particularly exciting was his ability to get to the foul line a whole lot, shooting 10-for-10. A good deal of Lin's work was instrumental in pushing the Hornets from down a few to up big. After a tepid start in the first quarter, he got rolling downhill, scoring 19 of his 21 first half points in the second quarter. Remarkably, Lin had all 10 of his free throws in that second quarter and combined that with a whole bunch of steals and rebounds.
According to the Charlotte Hornets PR department, Lin is the first Hornet since Tony Delk to scored 25 points and swipe four steals. Delk accomplished the feat almost 19 years ago to the day, April 9, 1997 against who else, the Boston Celtics. Going beyond Charlotte, Lin is the first player in the entire league to hit the 25 point/5 steal mark off the bench since Corey Brewer did it over a year ago, in February of 2015.
It has been said before, but it bears repeating, the Hornets will need this Lin in the playoffs and despite being battered on a regular basis, Lin seems to be in good spirits while smiling his way to the free throw line. As if it wasn't already a big enough night for Lin and Co., the second quarter outburst from Charlotte, 39 points, was their biggest scoring second quarter of the entire season.
All the fouls that the Celtics racked up trying to chase down Lin eventually created the opportunity for mismatches as well. If these two squads end up facing each other in the playoffs, the image of Olynyk switched onto Lin while several Celtics stare on from the bench with fouls will be a welcome one. The amount of space the Olynyk was forced to leave Lin was generous and inviting.
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with Lin's big quarter. The Hornets outscored the Celtics 39-13 in the second quarter and most of that came off the strength of an incredible 24-1 run by Charlotte.
Batum left the game very early in the second half with a tweaked left ankle. It didn't look pleasant, but it also looked a long, long way from being something severe like the dreaded (and significantly painful) high ankle sprain.
Really, like Reinis has noted over and over again, there is reasonable concern for Charlotte starters and appropriate times to be in the game or resting. After the Celtics game on Monday night, Clifford told the media that everyone who is healthy will be a go on Wednesday. In that regard, might want to hope that Batum is a little hobbled and can't make a go of it so that he doesn't aggravate the ankle issue. A win would be good, having Batum for the playoffs that are already clinched would be better.
More fun stats! Daniels had the most 3-point makes of any player in the league that has played under 500 minutes entering the game against Boston. Jeremy Lamb was an enticing player for the Hornets front office. He started strong, but faded as the season wore on. Eventually, Daniels started to get more playing time, cutting into the Lamb share.
Daniels needs more minutes and this game was the blessing he needed to get some good run. He played a total of 16 minutes and went 4-for-6, 3-for-4 from 3-point range for 11 points. There are many factors to a basketball game and 3-point shooting is a big one in the modern NBA. For a team that has fully embraced the long-distance shots, Charlotte should look more to Daniels, perhaps shaving more minutes from Lamb or even Kaminsky as the playoff rotations are set and teams start running just eight or nine guys deep a majority of the time.
There is very real potential that these teams could matchup in the playoffs. If that is the case, there are some obvious truths: Al Jefferson is going to eat, Kemba Walker and Lin need to be on their games, Batum needs to be healthy.
One thing that emerged from this game, that the Hornets need to be mindful of is the double team or trap in the "shallow" parts of the court - the corners.
After pushing this game way, way out of reach, Charlotte let the Celtics creep a little too close late. Part of the offensive stalling was due to getting trapped. If the Hornets can't rotate the ball, find the open man, or successfully pass out of some of these baseline/corner-3 traps, it could stunt their offense in a playoff scenario where teams really tighten up the defense and have plenty of time to scheme. Jefferson is getting over on Boston and has done work against Miami, but coaches like Brad Stevens and Erik Spoelstra will figure it out if you give them enough games and footage.
There were a handful of times where the Hornets were able to pass out of it, once rotating to Marvin Williams who missed a 3-point attempt, but a better result than a turnover. A few other occasions, Jefferson was able to work more quickly and his teammates moved to create an isolation situation so that any potential help defender would have to come a long way. Sometimes, the Celtics seemed to be on a silent clock where they would edge closer to Jefferson as if measuring before pouncing. Jefferson did hit a couple of shots late in the game where the help never arrived or was just beginning to conservatively rotate.