BROOKLYN — Jeremy Lin’s nine points weren’t spectacular. His six assists weren’t amazing.
But on Friday night, after his Houston Rockets secured a 106-96 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, he left New York City a winner for the third time in 7 months.
The second time was back on Dec. 17 when his Rockets defeated the New York Knicks, 109-96.
The first time was on July 18, when Lin’s 205-day tenure as a member of the Knicks came to an abrupt end.
We didn’t know it then, but we know it now.
Lin and the Knicks are better off without one another.
Lin’s journey has been inspiring, and for him, the future is bright.
After a busy offseason, the Rockets are younger and fresher. And with the collection of talent general manager Daryl Morey has assembled, there’s no question that it’s only a matter of time until James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and the newly acquired Thomas Robinson are amongst the top teams in the NBA’s Western Conference.
Armed with somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 million in cap space this offseason at a minimum, we’re just seeing the foundation for the Rockets; there is more to come.
Truth is, Lin and his fans should be thanking their lucky stars the wonder-kid wound up in Houston.
In New York City, where the lights shine the brightest, Lin could not have escaped the expectations that Linsanity had created. With Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith, Lin would have been expected to steer the Knicks ship into playoff contention and force LeBron James and his Miami Heat to walk the plank and swim with the sharks at South Beach.
Fortunately for him, that’s now Raymond Felton’s problem. And lately, especially coming out of the All-Star break with losses to Indiana and Toronto, the Knicks look incapable.
Had Lin stayed and failed to beat the Heat, he would have been run out of New York, labeled another failure and another disappointment.
Lin would have been another second-rate star that stole Gotham’s gold but shriveled when it was time to prove he was worth it.
But instead, Lin pounced around Barclays Center after Friday night’s victory. His glow everpresent. His head held high. He mingled with friends and family and signed autographs for fans.
Today, he can focus on being a basketball player.
With the Rockets not expected to seriously contend anytime in the near future, he can do it at his own pace.
It’s easy to overlook the fact that Friday night was career start number 82 for Lin. He’s started the equivalent of one season, so his inconsistency shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
On Wednesday night, the Rockets scored a 122-119 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Harden stole the show with an amazing performance against his former team, outscoring Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined. Harden torched his former mates for 46 points off of only 19 field goal attempts. Durant and Westbrook combined for 44 points on 33 shots.
It was easy for Lin’s 29 points, six rebounds and eight assists to go overlooked.
But it’s those performances that make his nine-point, six-assist effort in Brooklyn understandable.