For those still upset about the Knicks not matching Jeremy Lin in the off-season — and there are a lot fewer of those now than you might have thought when that went down this summer — one solace was that Lin was unlikely to immediately make the Knicks look bad. Sure, he might still play well in Houston, but the Rockets themselves were sure to be terrible. Lin was probably the team's main scoring option, and even if his game grew and expanded, he'd still be the focal point of opposing defenses, and he'd have few options. The team would stink, and they could adequately be ignored while the Knicks dealt with their own problems. And then Houston made a trade.
In the wake of Houston's big trade with Oklahoma City to bring in James Harden, Lin made his debut for the Rockets last night, helping Houston to a 105-96 road victory over the Pistons. Lin himself played fine — 12 points, eight assists, four turnovers — but Harden was a revelation, filling the stat sheet with a 37-point, twelve-assist, six-rebound night.
More to the point was how well, immediately, Lin and Harden played together. Harden, who had a total of one practice with the team, instantly merged with the existing offense, fitting into the flow with Lin and the high-pace Rockets offense. Lin was generally in charge of the offense — he had a team high +23 plus-minus — but Harden took over when he needed to, including down the stretch. It was a seamless transition. Apparently it's not impossible for Lin to play with a superstar?
It's just one game, of course, but rest assured, Rockets fans aren't lamenting the huge contract their team gave to some "unproven" "fluke" this morning. (Or someone who is "limited as an athlete," ahem.) Lin also looked at ease, like a person who knows that, for the first time, he has a secure job and the faith of an entire organization. It wasn't Linsanity. It was just a starting point guard in the NBA teaming with a top-shelf star to win a tough road game to start the season. We're not gonna be updating on Lin all season. But out of the corner of our eye, like we suspect a lot of you, we will be watching.