9:23 am Nov. 1, 20126
It isn't taking ex-Knick Jeremy Lin long to settle whatever argument remains about his legitimacy, with performances like the one he turned in for his regular season debut for the Rockets, a 105-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
His immediate success has much to do with the Rockets' acquisition of James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder. In Harden, the Rockets acquired a prolific scorer, and arguably the best shooting guard in the league. Harden made sure to let the world know it on Wednesday, scoring 37 points on 13-for-25 shooting, adding 12 assists, six rebounds and four steals.
Lin, for his part, excelled in the way many Knicks fans envisioned him doing with a high-volume scorer like Carmelo Anthony, or with Amar'e Stoudemire in the pick-and-roll. He scored 12 points, collected eight assists, four rebounds and four steals. It was no accident that the Rockets were 23 points better with Lin on the court, the highest plus/minus rating of anyone in the game.
It's not a complicated attack, Lin and Harden. It's just spacing and precise passing.
"They keep it so simple as far as just spreading it out and letting him create," Detroit's Rodney Stuckey said. "Pick and rolls, that's pretty much what got us. They did a good job of spreading us out. He was getting in the lane, making shots and finding his teammates and they were making shots, too."
And it worked remarkably well, even with the Rockets lacking any other significant scorers. There are high hopes for forward Chandler Parsons, and center Omer Asik is improved, but still quite raw on the offensive end. There's no one at the level of Tyson Chandler as a scorer, let alone Anthony or Stoudemire.
Harden is the Rockets' Anthony now, and no conflict existed between Lin and Harden, even though Harden creates much of his own offense. Having a point guard with the capability of both scoring and creating at Lin's level, unsurprisingly, seems to be making Harden better. It didn't take focus from Harden, or create any existential problem for the Rockets.
To be sure, there are also the secondary benefits of Lin at the point, like the open looks experienced by Carlos Delfino, the Steve Novak of the Rockets, who made five of his six three-point attempts, or Asik's 5-for-6 shooting night as the Rockets' Chandler. And none of the disastrous defensive consequences were in evidence against the Pistons, with a capable scoring backcourt of Stuckey and Brandon Knight shooting a combined 6-for-25.
Ultimately, the limitations of the roster in Houston (mostly a lack of depth brought about by general manager Daryl Morey's intentional purging of the roster to create room for Lin and Harden) will probably keep the Rockets from winning many games this season.
But the Jeremy Lin who couldn't create for others, or wouldn't thrive in a system where he deferred to others, or would somehow be exposed as a fraud once the magical period of Linsanity ended—that Lin bears no resemblance to the one who showed up, with regrets, to play in Houston.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
The Mets don't want there to be any leaks of their negotiating with David Wright, the Daily News reports based on information from... someone. According to the report, the negotiations are intensifying, which likely means exchange of dollars and years. No movement on R.A. Dickey, however.
Rafael Soriano opted out of his 2013 contract with the Yankees, and his agent, Scott Boras, reportedly believes he can get four years, $60 million on the free agent market. And he's not crazy.
The Knicks and Nets will not play Thursday, with the game getting rescheduled Wednesday afternoon. As of now, the Knicks' home opener against the Miami Heat on Friday night is still on, and the Nets are scheduled to open Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors.
With questions about Harrison, N.J.'s ability to handle a sporting event this weekend, the Red Bulls will play the first leg of their two-leg playoff against D.C. United at R.F.K. Stadium this weekend. The second leg is scheduled to be played at Red Bull Arena next Wednesday night.