Houston got off to an 11-12 start, with much of the blame being placed on the point guard. Lin had trouble meshing with his new teammates, especially James Harden. His shooting percentage was under 40 percent, and he was even benched at the end of some games in favor of Toney Douglas.
Now, 27 games into the season, Houston and Lin seem to be turning things around. The Rockets have won their last four contests, and they have been some of the more impressive wins by any NBA team in 2012.
During this winning streak, Houston has beaten first place teams on the road, such as the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls. They also defeated the 18-7 Memphis Grizzlies by 25 points. None of the games have been close, as the Rockets victories have been by an average of 21 points.
The strong play of Houston has correlated with Lin’s turnaround. The 24-year-old is averaging 18.8 points, nine assists and 59 percent shooting in his last four games -- all well above his season’s average.
Harden and Lin are finally learning how to play together. Both players are at their best with the ball in their hands, and struggled on the court together. In the last four games, however, the two have learned to share the ball, and have averaged a total of 50 points per game.
Lin’s hot streak began in New York, where he became an international superstar last season. At the height of “Linsanity,” he had the highest-selling jersey in the league and was the biggest story in the NBA. His run with the Knicks made his return to Madison Square Garden highly-anticipated, and Lin put up a big performance against his former team.
When the Knicks refused to match the Rockets offer sheet to Lin, they traded for Raymond Felton from the Portland Trail Blazers. The combination of Felton and Jason Kidd has taken Lin’s place at point guard in New York, leading the team to a 20-8 record.
While Felton got off to a fast start, he has struggled of late. The 28-year-old missed all of his 15 three-point shot attempts in the last five games, and has failed to total double-digit assists in a game in over month. Felton’s shooting percentage is now lower than Lin’s, at 39.6 percent.
Through the first month of the season, it seemed like the Knicks had made the right decision in letting Lin go. As 2013 approaches, the answer is no longer as clear.