Thursday, February 14, 2013
Jeremy Lin comes to town
I took my brother-in-law to see Jeremy play in person for the first time. The NBA celebrated the night as Chinese New Year. They had a chinese artist do the national anthem, the Clippers wore Chinese-themed warmups, there were Chinese subtitles on the Jumbotron and they rolled out a pathetic martial arts demo at halftime. It was pretty comical.
We didn't count on James Harden sitting out with a sprained ankle or the Clippers dropping 46 points on Houston in the 1st quarter, including a couple monstrous dunks by Griffin and Jordan, to essentially put the game out of reach.
Jeremy had a strong first half, but a poor 2nd half, as he was fouled hard a few times, including being kicked by Ryan Hollins when he was down. He finished with 14 points, 7 assists and 2 boards. He could have easily had twice the assists, if his teammates had shot just moderately well. I think the fact that Harden was out, and it was the 2nd night of a back-to-back, poor perimeter shooting by Houston, and Jeremy being battered all night by hard fouls, all contributed to a down night for Houston. But Jeremy showed his ability to dive into the lane, even against Chris Paul, to create opportunities for others. Still, minus Harden, I would've liked to see him look for his own shot more.
As for the Clippers, I couldn't be happier that they are ruling the city. With Paul, who is probably one of the top 3 players in the league alongside Lebron and Durant, they have the quality and the depth to make a run at the title. But with two other great teams in the West in SA and OKC and a dominant Heat in the East, it will definitely have to be earned (unlike Kobe's championships against the undermanned Magic and elderly Celtics).
The biggest downside to this loss is the fact that it brings the Lakers closer to the playoffs. As much as I am enjoying their disastrous and embarrassing season, I actually would prefer that they make the playoffs as a 6th or 7th seed (as long as Jeremy makes it too) and believe that they are close to getting it right. Being stuck in the land of NBA mediocrity is better for Laker haters than seeing them blow it up and starting over. A team like the Lakers can recover with free agents in no time. So that's the goal, keeping them mediocre - not a true contender, but, you know, not too bad.
The most comical part about the Lakers season is that the one guy they should be trying to keep happy, Dwight, is the one guy they are criticizing and ostracizing the most. The dude has a torn labrum and a bad back. He knows that he has to get healthy because he will be a free agent this summer. He is the only piece that must be considered as critical to the Lakers future. He also plays much better when he is coddled and treated delicately. Kobe and Nash are nearing the end, believe that now is the time and have little patience for Dwight. Add to the fact that D'Antoni is the absolute worst coach for an old and slow team with two of the best post players in the game. It seems he would rather eliminate post play completely. D'Antoni is the guy who took a look at Pau Gasol, who dominated teams in the summer Olympics single-handedly, and decided to start Earl Clark. Hahahaha. This is great. It is also as plain as day now, that Kobe will never be considered the great champion that Jordan is. He has a team with Nash, Dwight, Pau, and they aren't even at .500 at the all-star break. Really? Would Jordan have ever allowed his team to be in this position?
But I digress. It was great to see Jeremy live. I was reminded that his greatest ability is to drive into the paint and create from there. In the open court, he is a fantastic to watch. His jumpshots look great in warmup, but need consistency in the games. It was interesting to see that Houston's offense was completely lost without Jeremy in the game. And not since Yao came into the L, have so many Asian people, including numerous older Asian couples, attend NBA games. They definitely seemed out of place.