Last season, Jeremy Lin dropped 38 points on the Lakers at home for the New York Knicks; can he do it at home again for the Rockets tonight when they host Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in Houston? (Photo : Reuters)
The last time Jeremy Lin played the Los Angeles Lakers in a home game--one of the most memorable of the "Linsanity" era - he scored 38 points against Kobe Bryant and company.
In front of a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd in New York City on Feb. 10, Lin shocked and wowed the Garden faithful when, on a Knicks team missing both Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, he outscored Bryant 38-34 and sunk two clutch free throws with 52 seconds left as the Knicks beat the Lakers 95-82.
The game put the NBA on notice that a new star had emerged that season.
"Jeremy 'Kobe Wuz Smokin' But I Wasn't Joke-'Lin. Tonight Was NO FLUKE. I Seen It Wit' My Own 4 EYES. JLin Is LEGIT.NBA DEAL WITH IT.YA-DIG???" tweeted Filmmaker and Knicks fan Spike Lee
"Incredibly special to sit courtside tonight and witness the emergence of a New York Knick star - Jeremy Lin," tweeted action movie star and former WWE Superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Of course, that was then, and this is now.
Lin, who has since taken his talents to Space City and joined the Houston Rockets, has had an off-month in his start to the 2012-13 season, shooting only 39.3 percent from the floor and averaging only 10.9 points per game for the 8-8 Rockets. And the last time they faced the Lakers on Nov. 18 in Los Angeles in a 119-108 Houston loss, Lin had a dreadful night, scoring only 5 points on 2-of-9 shooting from the floor.
And yet, the signs are there that Lin is poised to have a big night tonight when the Lakers visit the Toyota Center in Houston to take on the Rockets at 8 p.m.
First, the Rockets are on a tear at home, having won five straight in Houston, including a 131-103 victory over the Knicks two weeks ago. Houston is also averaging 113.0 points and shooting 49.9 percent, including 45.5 percent from 3-point range, during its home winning streak.
Second, Lin's scoring has slowly started to pick up, the Palo Alto, Calif., native scoring 13 or more points in four of the last six games, including 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting in a Saturday win against the Utah Jazz.
In addition, it appears that Lin is finding his shooting touch again, hitting 57.1 percent from the field in the last four games, while still dishing out 8.6 assists in the last three games.
The primary target of the Lakers defense is going to be James Harden, one of the league leaders in scoring with 24.1 points a night. With the attention on Harden, and if Patrick Patterson and Chandler Parsons continue their steady and improving scoring capabilities, Lin might be able to find the wiggle room he needs to put up a few more shots and contribute on scoring by himself.
"There's a lot more balance, and I think the ball is moving," Lin told NBA.com after handing out a team-best eight assists in Saturday's 124-116 win over Utah. "We're getting our bigs in a spot that they need to be to keep the floor spread. It's starting to look more and more dangerous."
Of course, all of this is contingent on the fact that Lin can convert on his field goals, of which he shot a dismal 37 percent for November.
And additionally, the Lakers (8-9)--who will be visiting Houston for the first time with Lin's ex-Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, under who Lin flourished last season--are coming off a 113-103 loss to the Orlando Magic on Sunday and are 1-4 on the road this season, not a good set of circumstances for an opposing team to roll into town with against an opponent that has been winning at home.
The ingredients are there, but ultimately, it's up to Lin to put them all together. But if he does, it could be a recipe for disaster...for the Lakers.