Sixers' hands full with super-sub Jeremy Lin

Sixers' hands full with super-sub Jeremy Lin
November 13, 2013, 5:00 pm
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Jeremy Lin is averaging 16.1 points and shooting at 54.5 percent this year as Houston's sixth man. (USA Today Images)

When you think of the Houston Rockets, you think of James Harden and Dwight Howard -- an all-star tandem acquired over the past two years.

Harden is the league's fourth-leading scorer at 24.9 points per game, and Howard is the second-leading rebounder at 14.9.

But don't forget about the Rockets' intriguing sixth man, Jeremy Lin.
 
Lin came off the bench in the opener then started four games before Houston coach Kevin McHale moved him to a reserve role.
 
“I just thought he could be really aggressive with that second unit,” McHale said. “It would give him more chances to do what he does really well. With [Lin], Patrick (Beverly) and James (Harden) out there it gives us a lot of flexibility and versatility.
 
Lin is averaging 16.1 points per game, shooting 54.5 percent from the floor and hitting threes at a 45.5 percent clip. Monday, he dropped a game-high 31 points in a double-overtime win over the Raptors.
 
“When he shoots the ball with confidence, he is a great shooter,” Howard said. “I saw that this summer. He shot the ball very well, especially from three. He just has to shoot with confidence. When he shoots with confidence, he is amazing.”

He must have been confident Monday, when he dropped a game-high 31 points on 10 for 17 shooting (3 for 6 from three) in a double-overtime win over the Raptors.
 
“He had a lot of things happen that don’t happen for normal guys,” McHale said, referring to Lin’s second year in the league with the Knicks. “That crazy Linsanity thing was once in a lifetime. Last year, I think he was fighting half of that. But now I think he is past all that. He wants to be Jeremy Lin. He wants to be a really good player. He is a tremendous teammate and a tremendous young man.”
 
Lin was a restricted free agent two summers ago. When the Rockets offered him a back loaded three-year, $25 million contract, the Knicks let Lin walk. On average, Lin nets $8.3 million per year, but next season Houston is on the hook for $15 million -- a hefty number for a sixth man.
 
Lin, the Suns' Markieff Morris and the Clippers' Jamal Crawford are currently the league's leading scorers coming off the bench. Morris is still playing on his rookie contract, but Crawford -- the NBA's Sixth Man four years ago -- makes just over $5 million this season and the same for next two.
 
While Lin is a nice player who has shown improvement, that looming price tag is out of whack with what he brings to the table.
 
Fortunately for McHale, salary dilemmas are a front office issue. McHale just wants the kid to do what he does best.
 
“He is an attacking, scoring guard -- that’s what he has always been,” McHale said. “I think he is playing better then at any point last year for us. He is confident, his leg is healthy, he has been great for us all year long.
 
“We just need him to do what he does, which is attack, make plays, and defensively be solid. I have been really happy with Jeremy. He put a lot of work in this summer -- his shot is better. I think he has been playing fantastic.”

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