10:45 am Oct. 11, 20126
The flash-in-the-pan theories about Jeremy Lin never made perfect sense.
There's the idea that he only succeeded because he didn't have talented players around him, which, for a point guard, is actually a detriment, not a help. If anything, his impressive assist rate was reduced by the limits of the players around him to finish last season, when he took over a Knicks team missing Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Then there was the idea that once the league got a better look at him, the opposition could totally shut him down. Never mind that in this age of omnipresent video, that process takes minutes, not months.
But the Jeremy Lin who pulled on a Houston Rockets jersey in a game for the first time on Wednesday night reinforced the reality of Jeremy Lin, after months of discussion about what he is or isn't.
Lin played 19 minutes, scoring three points and tallying six assists and three steals, as the Rockets opened their preseason with a 107-105 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. He also did pretty much everything, for good and ill, that he did throughout his brief tenure in a Knicks uniform.
Almost immediately, Lin displayed the court vision and passing ability that helped him stand out for the Knicks, finding Omer Asik, a defense-first center, on a break. Asik caught Lin's outlet pass in stride and confidently finished for the Rockets' first field goal of the game.
Lin's defensive limitations were on display as well, though. The Rockets elected to let Lin defend Russell Westbrook one-on-one, and Westbrook seemed to relish taking him on, something that could become a pattern this season. Quickly, Westbrook reached double digits in points, and Lin committed two fouls.
But Lin stayed in the game, and continued to bring his own skills to bear upon it. At one end, a great penetration and kickout to Kevin Martin, the perimeter shooter. At the other end, a reach-in and steal to start a fast break down the other end.
Lin got to the basket at will, which is another one of those skills that somehow got lost in the whole "Lin will wake up from this dream" narrative. It's an incredibly important skill, few have it, and it isn't going away.
Lin did play just the 19 minutes in part because the Rockets are bringing him back slowly from his knee surgery. That's a prudent move, and evidence of a different approach to Lin's health than the one taken by the Knicks, who were willing to play Lin against Miami in last season's playoffs before he was fully healthy.
Lin's Rockets may not win many games in 2012-13; his teammates, though talented, are raw.
But the talk about whether Lin was a fluke should subside somewhat, as he gets to play some more. Lin is real.