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NBA Houston Rockets

2014 NBA Playoffs: Despite Not Being Top-Tier Player, Jeremy Lin Can Still Help Houston Rockets

Jeremy Lin Game 5

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets topped the Portland Trail Blazers 108-98 on Wednesday night, leading the team back to Portland for a crucial Game 6 that will either end their season or put them in the driver’s seat. The most surprising performance of the night came from Jeremy Lin, who picked up the slack for the somewhat-dormant James Harden.

Lin’s 21 points, four assists and two steals was a strong rebound from the cardinal mistake he game in Game 4 that and eventually put the Rockets in a 3-1 hole. After the game, the media and coach Kevin McHale were extremely critical of Lin’s mistake, leading to an outcry from Lin’s fans. In my opinion, Lin was only demonized for his mistake because of the severity of his error. In college basketball, we see a lot of this happening; lead guards lose their cool in crunch time and cost their team’s the game.

However, things like that don’t seem to happen in the pros, with top-notch point guards on nearly every team’s roster, which explains the harsh treatment of Lin following Game 4.

That being said, I give Lin loads of credit for coming out and lighting things up in Game 5. The second he stepped on the court he was electric, pushing the pace with reckless abandon and trusting his jump shot. With Patrick Beverley battling flu-like symptoms, Houston desperately needed Lin to play his best game on both ends of the floor.

Lin did that, and then some. In the first four games of the series, he wasn’t himself, averaging just nine points and 4.8 assists per game, while shooting just 36 percent from the floor and only 17 percent from beyond the arc. In fact, Lin made only two 3-point shots in the first four games of the series, which matched his total from Game 5.

With Lin stepping up in Game 5, he not only made up for his Game 4 meltdown, but he kept Houston’s second-round aspirations alive. Although he’s not the All-Star caliber player some of his fans think he is, sometimes a little bit of that Linsanity magic shines through.

Mike De Moor is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDeMoor, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.