• Print

Controlled Aggression

January 23, 2013 1:14 pm EST

Jeremy Lin in search of both balance and attack mentality as he and team try to snap out of slump

HOUSTON - Everything is magnified with Jeremy Lin. That’s not a newsflash, of course; simply the reality of life in the spotlight when you’re an international phenomenon.

With that being said, it should come as no surprise that more than a few eyebrows were raised – to put it mildly – when the Rockets’ young point guard spent the fourth quarter of Houston’s 100-94 win overCharlotte watching from the bench while newly-signed Patrick Beverley closed out the club’s comeback victory. Predictably, certain segments of the Twitterverse – among other places – worked themselves into a tizzy, wondering whether Lin’s confidence would be shaken or, even more extreme, whether or not he had lost his starting gig. Never mind that Jeremy is hardly the only Rockets starter who has occasionally been on the bench during key fourth quarter stretches. Omer Asik, for example, has found himself in similar situations at various parts of the season, yet no one seems to ever suggest that his starting spot is in any sort of jeopardy.

Of course, such reaction – or overreaction, if you will – is just part of the world in which we live given the nature of the 24-7 news cycle and the seemingly infinite resources available for fans to vent both their euphoria following wins and frustrations after defeats. By and large, those are good things. But it’s also nice to pepper that passion with a dose of proper perspective every now and then.

To that end, today Lin addressed his feelings regarding his recent play; a downturn in performance, in fact, that has largely mirrored the slump the Rockets are trying to work themselves out of. And, as is the case with the team as a whole, the 24-year-old says his primary need for improvement comes on the defensive end.

“(It starts with) being more of a pest on defense,” he said following this morning’s shootaround. “For me, it’s just finding a way to be effective every game and to be consistent. One of our weaknesses, one of my weaknesses, is just the inconsistency of everything.”

Lin continued by saying he can actually take several things from having watched Beverley’s performance on the defensive end. He labeled his new teammate a “spark” while adding that Beverley’s hyper aggression on defense has been huge for a team that can too often be passive and tentative on that end of the floor.

“Once you get tentative, then everyone starts to do it,” Lin said. “And then when everyone starts to do it, then you stop trusting your rotations and your help-side and your weak-side. For us, that’s what we tried to rebuild in practice yesterday: getting back to being in the spots we’re supposed to be at, so the guys in the pick-and-rolls can be their normal, aggressive selves knowing that the backside is going to be there and vice versa.”

As for the offensive end, Lin has said several times over the course of the season that, like many young players, his confidence has a tendency to soar when he sees a couple shots fall through the hoop early. And it’s no secret that Lin is at his best when he transitions into attack mode, penetrating and probing the defense in search of quality looks for both himself and his teammates. Again, however, the primary issue holding him back has been one of consistency and passivity. That’s not unusual in a young point guard, especially one with a scorer’s mentality. For Lin, then, the battle he most frequently fights is one of finding the right balance between making sure he gets himself going while simultaneously ensuring he is taking care of the point guard’s prime directive and spearheading his teammates’ scoring as well.

“As a point guard, the last person that needs to get going is the point guard,” he said. “But you know it’s different, too, because I’m also a scorer. I think, for me, what I just want to do is be aggressive, period, and just play-make and just let the game and their defense dictate what plays are going to be made; it could be an assist, or a hockey assist or it could be a shot.

“I think we need to do a good job of getting out and running again and getting those fast break points and a lot of that comes from defensive stops. I think when we do that we’re tough because everyone gets going. And once everyone’s touching it and feeling good, we’ve shown what we can do in terms of lighting up the scoreboard.”