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Lin wears many hats in his first 100 games as a Rockets starter

Posted by JLin

By Jenny Dial Creech

January 12, 2014

"I am definitely more comfortable and more prepared than I ever have been," said Lin, who started his 100th game as a Rocket on Saturday night, scoring 18 points in a 114-107 victory at Washington.

After his bout of Linsanity with the New York Knicks in 2012, Lin signed with the Rockets. In his first year, he worked to find his place on a new team as the spotlight shifted from him. This season he has dealt with losing his starting job, nagging injuries, enduring a few rough games and returning to a starting role with confidence.

"It's tough," he said. "My two years in Houston have been hard. They have been very hard for me in a lot of different ways. I have had to grow up and learn and mature in a lot of ways."

One of the things that has been tough is his changing role. From starting every game last season to coming off the bench this season.

"There is always my role and how it changes, the uncertainty," Lin said. "I think there is dealing with the pressure or the hype of Linsanity. Getting comfortable in a new environment and learning to be a different player than I have been in the past."

Focusing on defense

Transitioning into that role has made him more versatile, Lin said.

Despite being labeled a backup, Lin has started in all but 10 games this season because of injuries to Beverley and James Harden. Lin has also missed 10 games with injuries.

From the bench, Lin averages 27.3 minutes, 13.1 points and 3.5 assists and the Rockets are 6-4 in those games. He also provides a leadership and spark coach Kevin McHale said is needed. As a player who came off the bench with the Boston Celtics, McHale never saw putting Lin in that role as a knock to the guard.

"Having a guy like Jeremy out there just makes that second unit better," McHale said.

Lin has helped fashion a 12-6 record as a starter, playing 33.1 minutes per game and averaging 14.7 points and 4.5 assists. Those numbers put him 12th in the league in scoring among point guards, and 17th in assists.

But Lin wants to improve his defense. There have been times his defensive improvement has been evident, like the Christmas night game against San Antonio when Lin held All-Star point guard Tony Parker to six points.

"Some games my focus is being that defensive player to disrupt the other guy," Lin said. "But then other games, like the New York game, it's like go, go, go, create pace, play free. And then other games, I haven't started, or been injured, or started, finishing the game, not finishing the game - it just gives me more of an all-around feel, an all-around game. All of it together makes me hopefully a better player."

Whatever the role, Lin thinks he can accept it and make the most of it.

"I can't get too high and low with everything that happens, with every game and every play," he said. "I just have to keep trying to be who I am, be free on the court and be as consistent as I can, and I think being level-headed has helped me a lot."

Lin said his teammates have helped him as he has navigated through the ups and downs. That consistent support has made it easier.

"I have been on teams in the past where people didn't always get along and there's huge divisions. And for us, it's how it's supposed to be," Lin said. "Basketball is a team sport. You are supposed to get along and play for each other and sacrifice for each other. I think we are still learning what that means, but we are off to a good start."

Room for improvement

His teammates speak highly of Lin as well. Howard said their chemistry has made major leaps since they started training camp.

"Jeremy is a great player and a young guy who is going to just keep getting better," Howard said. "The biggest thing for him is to continue to play with confidence and to believe in himself. This is our first year playing together, so I think the more we play together, the better it will get."

Lin's goals for the future are clear - he wants to win an NBA championship. He knows he might have to wear a lot of hats with the team and be as well-rounded as possible.

"I think I'm a better player than I was last year, but I am nowhere near where I want to be," Lin said. "I still think I am a young player with a lot to learn.

"Maybe I have established I can play in the NBA, but I want to go so far above and beyond that, and I have a long way to go."




Jeremy Lin's numbers are slightly higher when he starts:


Starter Category Off the bench


12-6 W-L 6-4

33.1 Minutes 27.3

14.7 Points 13.1

83-183 (.454) FG-A (pct.) 43-86 (.500)

24-66 (.364) 3pt-A (pct.) 9-29 (.310)

74-93 (.796) FT-A (pct.) 36-47 (.766)

3.1 Rebounds 1.9

4.5 Assists 3.5

1.0 Steals 1.0

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