HOUSTON - There are countless storylines and intriguing subplots surrounding the Rockets this season, but the next chapter of the Jeremy Lin saga figures to rank right near the very top from both a local and global perspective.
So in order to find out how Lin is approaching the 2012-13 season, Rockets.com caught up with the 24-year-old point guard the morning of what will ultimately become the first-ever opening night start of his young career.
JCF: This is your first opening night in which you’re going to be the starter. Does that milestone carry any significance to you at all?
JL: I just want to help the team win. We really want to get this game. We want to get off to the right start. I think this team believes in itself and I think tonight we need to come out and do a great job of getting out to a fast start and then closing the game. I think that’s important for us, especially going forward with the season we’re going to have – we need to make sure that we win as many games as we can and this is one that we all think that we need to get.
JCF: Having the game that you did in Orlando (5-10 shooting, 3-4 from 3), does that make any sort of difference for you whatsoever to have ended the preseason with a game where you say your shot falling like that?
JL: Yeah, I think that was just big for me because I didn’t see it in the previous six games. But, you know, this is just one of those things that will come around and I think for me it’s coming around right now, and I just need to keep going, keep getting better and hopefully it continues – that’s the goal.
JCF: On offense especially, this starting five really seemed to have developed a good chemistry by the end of the preseason. Now obviously the trade impacts that to a degree, but you’ve mentioned that there already seems to be a team-wide comfort level with James Harden on the floor because he picks things up so quickly. How much to you think it will help this team expedite the chemistry process since everyone in this unit has an above average basketball IQ?
JL: I think it makes it a lot more natural and makes it click faster. It’s been a really smooth transition. I think that’s what happens when you have guys like Chandler and (Omer Asik). They’re not ball-dominant, but they make great decisions and the ball finds them because they’re going to be open a lot of times.
JCF: With all the attention on you this year, there’s been an immense amount of speculation about how much you do or don’t feel pressure from external sources. So how much does pressure affect you?
JL: You know, it’s funny: The most pressure I get is from myself – that’s how I’ve always been. To be honest, I don’t really read too much of anything so I’ve always put this much pressure on myself ever since high school – that’s always been my (primary) source of pressure.
JCF: Do you have any personal goals or benchmarks that you’d like to hit this year?
JL: To be honest, no, because I don’t know how it’s going to work. Every season, every team has a different identity and I think I need to find out what that means; maybe on one team it’s more rebounds or assists, I don’t know. For me it’s just going in and being aggressive, taking what the defense gives me and then just trying to be effective and whatever the line is at the end of the day, that’s what the line is. But I think we’re all focused on just trying to make the right play to win.
JCF: So basically the only goal is just the number of wins it takes to make the playoffs.
JL: Yeah, because I think if you make the playoffs nothing else really matters. No one’s going to be like, ‘Oh, he got this, or he did that.’ No, we made the playoffs. We’re going to play some more games. That’s all that matters.
In other, more lighthearted Jeremy Lin news, the 24-year-old point guard admitted Wednesday he still feels awful over the fact he mistakenly called rookie Scott Machado Saturday night in the wake of the big trade, having intended instead to call Jeremy Lamb and offer his condolences and best wishes going forward. The case of mistaken identity momentarily threw Machado for a loop since the Iona-product thought, for just a moment, that he had been involved in the trade somehow.
Days later, Lin is still shaking his head over what transpired that night.
“I was just apologizing many times and was just like, ‘I’m really sorry – that was not cool,’” he said. “I felt really bad. I actually thought about what I did to him and had a dream about it and was like, man, that was terrible. It’s something I’d like to forget.”
When asked if he would make amends with Machado by engaging in some rookie role reversal, perhaps even going so far as to fetch coffee and donuts for his teammate, Lin laughed and said, “You know what, if he asked me, I might do that one time.”
Lastly, Patrick Patterson (strained quad) is being listed as a game-time decision for tonight’s game. Head Coach Kevin McHale did not say who would start in Patterson’s place, but did mention he expects Terrence Jones and Marcus Morris to pick up the slack if Patterson is unable to play.