Scorching Suns Burned the Hornets 111-102, My Epiphany on JLin

I was afraid this scenario would happen. After losing 9 straight games and embarrassingly only scored 22 pts in the 1st half of the last loss against the Lakers, the Suns came out hot shooting (unbelievably hot 57.6% 3pt shooting, 19-33) determined to win. I was watching the game in person behind the basketball rim so I couldn’t see all floor enough to make good analysis of plays but I was able to observe the change of momentums in the building. Here is a high-level summary of the game: 1st HALF

  • Jeremy had a quick start to score 13pts in the 1st quarter as he was able to drive to the rim at will
  • As Kemba rested at the bench with 3:21 left, JLin seemed to be in command having the ball in his hands as he scored 6pts
  • But the Suns has been hot from 3-point land. At half-time, the Suns shot an unbelievable 62% 3FG. The Hornets were not doing too bad with 42% but this was why the Suns led 8pts at 60-52.
  • The Hornets big men just couldn’t finish in the paint as Hawes missed easy layup (0-5 shooting, 0 pts) and Frank just couldn’t seem to finish (1-8, 3pts). The unreliable big men of Hornets have become a glaring weakness for this team
  • The bench performance was horrible

2nd HALF

  • The Hornets fought an uphill battle trying to chip in the lead to 5 pts (71-76) with 4:37 left in the 3rd quarter when JLin rested. JLin uncharacteristically missed 2 FTs but made a tough shot afterwards. He was playing OK with an assist but a TO. I thought Coach Clifford wanted to give more rest to JLin at this point.
  • The Hornets made a run to take over the lead with 80-78 with 1:34 left but the momentum shifted when Frank made a bad TurnOver losing the ball while doing a spin-move to dribble. It was really a bad unforced error. The Suns regained the momentum with 2 threes to retake the lead 86-85. It took the air of the Hornets as they thought they had taken the lead.
  • In the 4th quarter, the Suns made a quick 14-8 run with hot 3pt shooting ( 4  3pt shots) to extend the lead to 102-93. Frank missed 2 shots, JLin had 2 TOs, Hairston missed a 3 in this stretch. I couldn’t see the offense on the opposite half-court so I’m not sure what happened there
  • Zeller and Marvin Williams came in for JLin and Frank with 7:24 left.
  • Then each team scored 9-9 after the Suns timeout at 102-93 to finish the game at 111-102. The Hornets just couldn’t mount enough offense or defense to stop the Suns from scoring or making 3s. The offense looked disorganized with only Kemba dribble-drive, Marvin Williams post-up or Troy Daniels 3pt shots. It’s very hard to get wide-open shots.

Conclusion

  • I believe Coach Clifford went with the lineup that he thought gave the best momentum to try to catch up for the Suns. With ineffective big men in Frank and Hawes, it’s hard to finish strong inside. This is when Al Jefferson’s presence is being missed so much. I believe the Hornets would win this game with a healthy Al Jefferson inside.
  • It’s hard to beat a team when they shot 57.6% or 19-33 from 3pt-land. And the Hornets just couldn’t bother a determined Suns team tonight.
  • JLin looked excellent in the 1st quarter with the ball in his hands but I don’t know what happened in the 2nd half when he didn’t have the ball in his hands. Some TOs, uncharacteristic 2 missed FTs. I came away with a realization that Jeremy Lin needs to find his rhythm by having the ball in his hands. Yes, he can be a good off-the-ball shooting guard but that’s not his strength and it does affect his shooting rhythm and even organizing offense on some nights.
  • I will say this. I have an epiphany after watching this game: Jeremy Lin needs to be the main ball-handler in his next team at all cost. Otherwise, he looks very ordinary when his shooting doesn’t fall. JLin is a rhythm player and his shooting and offensive efficiency is very much affected by him dribbling the ball and being involved in the offense. That’s who he is and there’s nothing wrong with that. Linsanity happened that way with the ball in his hands. Who cares if he can’t be great by not handling the ball like Steve Nash did in the Lakers with Kobe as the main ball-handler? Players thrive because of their strength in the NBA. And there’s nothing wrong with leveraging one player’s strength when choosing a team or a coach.

I will post more details on the Q & A session tomorrow. Perhaps add videos and pictures in the next 1-2 days as they take time to process.

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