Even Lin and James Harden can have off nights. Lin was 3-of-6 from the floor and 1-of-2 in 3-pointers and dished out four assists and had two steals. But he only had eight points, way below his average.
Harden scored 22 points but was a horrible 6-of-24 in shooting.
But Wednesday’s loss should turn on alarm signals for Houston coach Kevin McHale, whose team had been playing excellent basketball in recent weeks. The Rockets still are playing good basketball. But they’re certainly vulnerable. They’re likely to face a top-seeded team in the first round of the playoffs. The team they face will be excellent defensively. The Pacers showed what good defense can do to excellent players like Lin and Harden.
For the rest of the season, Lin needs to pick up his intensity. He’s averaging 13 points and 3.1 rebounds plus 6.0 assists per game, and is having a decent season. Lin deserves plenty of credit for Houston’s successes this season.
He’s been criticized for not being able to play his best basketball when he faces excellent defense and is in a challenging situation. He can’t repeat what happened Wednesday night or else the Rockets will have a short postseason. If Lin plays like he has all season, the Rockets are going to make the playoffs interesting.