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Lin Demands More Minutes

Jeremy Lin demands more minutes: Kevin McHale's blatant misuse of guard rings loud in Linsanity reboot

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Jeremy Lin floor
Jeremy Lin picked himself off the floor — out of exile — in the Houston Rockets' franatic comeback win over the Portland Trailblazers. Courtesy of Basketball IQ
Kevin McHale, Jeremy Lin, Rockets, basketball, November 2012
Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale is still toying with Jeremy Lin's minutes. Houston Rockets/Facebook
Kevin Durant James Harden
James Harden can't turn the Oklahoma City Thunder matchups into personal duels between him and Kevin Durant. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Patrick Beverley
Patrick Beverley is called the king of intangibles, but even the analytics gurus who love him can't seem to chart the difference he makes. Courtesy of Basketball IQ
Chris Paul LeBron James
The Houston Rockets are still looking up at Chris Paul in Western Conference aura. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Jeremy Lin floor
Kevin McHale, Jeremy Lin, Rockets, basketball, November 2012
Kevin Durant James Harden
Patrick Beverley
Chris Paul LeBron James
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

Desperate and running out of time, Kevin McHale finally frees his banished star.

This is how it goes for Jeremy Lin. When the Houston Rockets coach has exhausted every other possible way to try and win the game, he might give Lin a chance to make a difference. McHale will throw Lin into an impossible position and see what happens.

More often than it should, more than often than anyone has a right to expect considering how often Lin's been jerked around, something like Sunday night happens. Lin pops off the bench, receives his first extended playing time in 17 days and goes crazy. He drops in 26 points, hits the go-ahead jumper in overtime, gets to the free throw line 12 times and makes up for starting point guard Patrick Beverley's hideous zero assist, minus-two, 36-minute game.

 Jeremy Lin can still play. He still has moments of pure basketball insanity in him. He just needs a real chance.  

It's the kind of performance that screams out for more playing time. Demands it.

With every fearless drive and pull-up jumper, Jeremy Lin serves notice that the Rockets need him in order to be anything more than another Houston team that goes on a dazzling second half of the season run only to flame out early in the playoffs (remember those 22-game-win-streak, 55-wins-overall 2007-08 Rockets who promptly bowed out to the Utah Jazz in the first round?) When Lin turns and unleashes a full-throat scream after one overtime dagger, he might as well be yelling at all the doubters.

Yes, Jeremy Lin can still play. He still has moments of pure basketball insanity in him. He just needs a real chance. More than once every eight games.

"If you ask me it feels good, yeah it feels good," Lin tells the TV cameras after the great escape against a Portland team that still fancies itself as one of the Western Conference elite.

Lin's demise hasn't just been greatly exaggerated. It's been completely orchestrated by a coach whose doghouse seems dictated by personal beliefs rather than player performance.

What other player in the NBA has a player whose capable of dropping in 26 points off the bench one night and racking up a triple double as a reserve on another?

It's like the Rockets have a Jamal Crawford and an Evan Turner coming off their bench — only they're barely playing him.

The other Rockets are starting to acknowledge Lin's unmistakable talent.

"Jeremy Lin had an amazing game,," Dwight Howard tells the CSN cameras after the Portland comeback.

Even the commentators on the the Rockets' own cable network are beginning to recognize the faulty strategy of continually benching and belittling Lin.

Damon Jones — the former Miami Heat guard turned CSN Rockets analyst — argued on air days before the Portland explosion that Lin is not being given a fair chance to produce or break out of any so-called slump.

“He only played 16 minutes the other night,” Jones says. “You can’t find a rhythm in 16 minutes.”

Jones found himself debating against 610 AM host Nick Wright, who always seems to be on the bully side raging against anyone whose draft status and demeanor don’t fit his definition of what a professional athlete should look like (see Case Keenum).

There’s no denying it now though. Lin’s 26-point throwdown demands that he needs more time.

Oklahoma City Conundrum

On almost any other team in the NBA, with any other coach, Lin’s latest star turn would guarantee him instant increased playing time. This trend of yanking away his starting job for no sound reason, the reducing of him from the sixth man to virtually the eighth man, would end with that fourth quarter. On any other team, with any other coach. 

After all, Lin shattered the notion that he and James Harden can’t excel together. They dominate the fourth quarter and overtime as a duo. When Harden — the rightful repeat Western Conference Player of the Week — isn’t hitting a big shot, Lin is knocking one down.

 There’s no denying it now though. Lin’s 26-point throwdown demands that he needs more time. 

This represents the Rockets at their most offensively dangerous.

Unfortunately, these are also the Rockets of McHale’s senseless and very selective quick hook.

Lin could be reduced to a bit player again as soon as Tuesday night in Oklahoma City. It doesn’t matter how hot he comes into the night. There’s a good chance McHale will try and see if can win the game without him.

Jeremy Lin’s play couldn’t be screaming any louder for a larger role and a real chance.

But does anyone really think Kevin McHale has any interest in listening?

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