Much of 2014 has been a struggle for Jeremy Lin on the basketball court. Lately, though, the Houston Rockets guard has shown signs that he’s getting back on track.
In late December, Lin suffered from back spasms, which forced him to sit out four consecutive games. While he hasn’t missed a game since, the 25-year-old has continued to be plagued by the injury. After the All-Star Game, his playing time decreased significantly, as he dealt with nagging back pain. Now, Lin is looking more like the player that averaged more than 15 points per game in November.
On Sunday, Lin had his best game in months. In an overtime victory against the Portland Trail Blazers, he scored 26 points on 17 shot attempts. His 34 minutes was the most he’d played since before the All-Star Break. On Tuesday, he scored just eight points in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but his 24 minutes were significant. Before Sunday’s contest, he hadn’t surpassed more than 22 minutes in seven games.
Not only has Lin’s recent production improved, but he’s been on the court at crucial moments in the game. The point guard made some important baskets in the fourth quarter against Portland, and sealed the victory with key free throws in the extra session.
As the Rockets head towards the playoffs, it’s important for Lin to be playing at 100 percent. He’s the backup to Patrick Beverley, but the starting point guard has been inconsistent. In Beverley’s last nine games, he’s scored at least 19 points three times, but failed to register more than five points on four occasions. Lin’s points, assists and shooting averages are higher than Beverley’s, and he may get the call to play alongside James Harden down the stretch of important games.
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Houston has been successful, despite Lin’s injuries. However, the Rockets were just as good when Lin was healthy, at the start of the season. As Lin scored an average of 15.3 points per game and shot close to 50 percent from the field, the Rockets began the year at 11-5.
At 23-7, Houston has the best record since Jan. 1. They are expected to contend for a spot in the NBA Finals, with the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers projected to come out of the East. With 18 games remaining, the Rockets have the No. 4 seed in the West, behind the San Antonio Spurs, the Thunder, and the Los Angeles Clippers.
If the playoffs were to start today, the Rockets would have home-court advantage against the No. 5 Blazers.