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Lin Unfairly Crucified

Jeremy Lin unfairly crucified as McHale throws him under bus, while Beverley given free pass for turnover

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Jeremy Lin Mo Williams
Jeremy Lin lost the ball at a crucial moment against the Portland Trail Blazers. Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Patrick Beverley
Patrick Beverley lost the ball in a crucial moment against the Portland Trail Blazers. Which one do you think is being criticized? Courtesy of Basketball IQ
Kevin McHale, Jeremy Lin, Rockets, basketball, November 2012
Rockets coach Kevin McHale showed once again that he doesn't have use for one of his most talented players with his treatment of Jeremy Lin. Houston Rockets/Facebook
Jeremy Lin Mo Williams
Patrick Beverley
Kevin McHale, Jeremy Lin, Rockets, basketball, November 2012
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

The tale of two turnovers tells it all about these Houston Rockets and the sickening double standard that's haunting this franchise.

Jeremy Lin loses the ball in a crucial moment late in regulation after he's put in an impossible position by Kevin McHale — and Lin's absolutely crucified for it. Patrick Beverley loses the ball in the closing seconds of overtime, stopping the Rockets from ever getting off a game-tying shot — and Beverley's given a complete free pass.

Surprised?

The one-sided venomous reaction in the wake of the Rockets' 123-120 loss to Portland in Game 4 of a first round playoff series couldn't be more predictable, telling or sad. The fans — and the segment of reporters acting like they're waving pom poms at the games — who love to hate Jeremy Lin are almost gleeful in their condemnation. Of one of the turnovers. The other turnover? The Beverley turnover?

Well, that's understandable. Beverley must have been mugged. He's a warrior, you know!

It'd all almost be comical. If it wasn't so clearly bigoted.

On a night when both Rockets point guards commit almost the same exact blunder, a night when TNT commentator Reggie Miller rightfully laces into James Harden for completely giving up on getting back on defense (and giving away a fast break to Nicolas Batum) because he's pouting about not getting the ball on offense, a night when McHale is once again completely out coached by Terry Stotts, it's absurd to blame this loss on one player.

Yet, Jeremy Lin is still predictably the lone Rocket being blamed.

 It'd all almost be comical. If it wasn't so clearly bigoted. 

Which is laughable considering McHale benches Lin for all but 21 minutes of this 53-minute thriller — only to throw him into a ridiculous situation in the last minute of regulation. Lin's pulled from the game with 6:41 remaining and then put back in with only 50 seconds left. As cold as can be thanks to the long exile, he's asked to help save the Rockets on defense as they cling to a slim lead.

Should Lin call a timeout when he corrals the rebound after having more than done his defensive job? Certainly. There's no need to dribble up court, exposing the ball — which allows Blazers veteran Mo Williams to swoop in from behind for the steal. But it's hardly the main reason the Rockets lose.

Yes, McHale tells all the Rockets to call a timeout if they get the ball and there's not a clear fast break opportunity the other way. Lin fails to call the timeout. Just like Beverley fails to pass the ball ahead like McHale instructs him to before the last play of overtime and dribbles right into a double team at half court instead.

Two mental mistakes. Lin's crucified for his, Beverley's given a free pass for his. Welcome to Rockets basketball!

The situations are so nearly identical that one can't help but half wonder for an instant if some wicked basketball god set this up to highlight just how glaring the double standard against Jeremy Lin truly is.

To both Lin and Beverley's credit, each player insists on taking responsibility and owning up to his own mistake.

"It shouldn't have been in overtime in the first place," a stone faced, shoulder slumped Lin says in a locker room interview shown on CSN  Houston. "I should have held onto the ball and called timeout."

For his part, Beverley refuses to grab onto the lame excuses offered by some of his media defenders — and Lin haters. "He made a good play on the ball," Beverley says of Wesley Matthews coming in to strip him at half court with the Rockets trying to force double overtime.

Unfortunately, McHale does not show the same grace.

Kevin McHale's Playoff Panic

In his own postgame news conference, the Rockets coach goes out of his way to point out that he told the players to call a timeout in the situation Lin loses the ball in.

"Jeremy gets the defensive rebound and dribbles it out and we lose the ball," McHale huffs. "We couldn't be any clearer, than 'Clear break or timeout.' "

 Two mental mistakes. Lin's crucified for his, Beverley's given a free pass for his. Welcome to Rockets basketball! 

Then, almost as if catching himself and realizing Larry Bird would have slapped him across the head if he threw a Celtic teammate like that under the bus back in the day, McHale suddenly adds: "That's not (Lin's) fault, he made a basketball play."

Jeremy Lin is guaranteed to get the hateful scorn, but McHale's fooling himself if he thinks his own blunders aren't being noticed by Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and owner Leslie Alexander. Lin is not the reason the favored Rockets are in a 3-1 series hole, needing to somehow win three straight elimination games to prevent the season from ending in utter, crushing disaster.

Four games into the series, McHale's still butchering his bench rotations. He's finally rightfully giving D-League shooting wonder Troy Daniels some run, getting 17 points and only two missed shots from the rook on Sunday night. But now he's completely benched Francisco Garcia and cut Lin's time nearly in half —the game after Lin made the heady play that resulted in the Rockets only series win.

It doesn't look like McHale's coaching on feel. It looks like he's coaching on panic.

The only thing that might possibly give Houston life is the boneheaded, gloating move made by Mo Williams, who walks all the way over to the Rockets bench after the final buzzer to mock Troy Daniels of all players. Harden rightly steps in front of Daniels and goes right back at Williams.

For at least a moment in Rip City, the Rockets are finally standing together rather than yelling at each other. "It's just hard to play a team and then play ourselves at the same time," Rockets forward Chandler Parsons says in his televised postgame dais moment, hinting at the real discord.

Jeremy Lin's the one being crucified. But he's not the Rockets true problem. Not even close. That's as clear as those two turnovers.

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