Jeremy Lin: ‘Felt like I needed to be a spark’ after helping Houston Rockets stay alive

After an ugly Game 4 and with Houston facing elimination, Jeremy Lin scored 21 points in 31 minutes on 9-of-15 shooting for the Rockets in Game 5 on Wednesday in a must-win game against Portland.
Jeremy Lin had 21 points in 31 minutes for the Rockets on Wednesday night in Game 5 against the Trail Blazers. Larry W Smith / EPA / April 30, 2014
Jeremy Lin had 21 points in 31 minutes for the Rockets on Wednesday night in Game 5 against the Trail Blazers. Larry W Smith / EPA / April 30, 2014

Jeremy Lin was so unhappy with his performance in Houston’s Game 4 loss to Portland that he hardly slept at all after the game.

Lin should sleep like a baby after his work in Game 5.

Dwight Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Lin came off the bench to score 21 points and help the Rockets beat the Trail Blazers 108-98 on Wednesday night to avoid elimination.

“I just tried to be aggressive,” said Lin, who had four points and three turnovers in Sunday’s overtime loss. “I felt like I needed to be a spark for the team.”

The Trail Blazers lead the first-round series 3-2 entering Game 6 on Friday in Portland.

A basket by Damian Lillard got the Trail Blazers within two points before James Harden stepped back and swished a three-pointer to make it 103-98 with about three minutes left. The shot brought the crowd, which was clad almost completely in red shirts emblazoned with the words “Clutch City” on them, to its feet.

That started an 8-0 Houston run to close it out. Harden finished with 17 points and seven assists.

“I really hadn’t did anything the first two quarters, so it was time for me to step up and make plays,” Harden said.

Houston finally slowed down LaMarcus Aldridge, limiting him to eight points, after he averaged 35.3 points in the first four games. Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 27 points and Lillard added 26.

“We had opportunities to make shots, but we didn’t make certain shots that we needed,” Aldridge said. “We didn’t get the big stops that we needed. They played well down the stretch and we didn’t.”

Lin got extended minutes on Wednesday night with Patrick Beverley dealing with a 101-degree fever. Beverley had five points in 21 minutes.

The Trail Blazers said the two shots Lin hit as the shot clock expired were deflating.

“He threw up some crazy shots,” Lillard said. “That’s when you know a guy is having a good night. They would put one up at the end of so many good defensive possessions, and it’s going in. That let you know what kind of night it was.”

The Rockets led by as many as 17 points in the first half. Portland cut it to one point three times in the fourth quarter, but never went back on top.

Terrence Jones added a basket for Houston after the big three by Harden before Howard got after Aldridge on the other end. He blocked his short jump shot, sending it out of bounds. Portland got the ball back and Aldridge got the ball again, but he badly missed a shot with Howard in his face as the shot clock expired, leaving Aldridge yelling for a foul.

The Rockets were up by nine early in the fourth quarter after four quick points from Lin before Portland used an 8-0 run, with the first four points from Nicolas Batum, to cut the lead to 91-90 with 7:39 remaining.

Matthews had 18 of Portland’s 29 points in the third. Howard and Lin combined for 18, including Lin’s long two as the shot clock expired with Lillard right in his face. Lin finished off the quarter with a three-point play to make it 82-77 entering the fourth.

OTHER WEDNESDAY PLAY-OFF RESULTS

Spurs 109, Mavericks 103 (Spurs lead series 3-2)

San Antonio moved to within one win of dispatching their first round challengers, as Brazilian centre Tiago Splitter scored 17 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished five assists in his best performance of the play-offs so far.

Tony Parker led the Spurs in scoring with 23 points and Manu Ginobili pitched in 19 off the bench. Tim Duncan managed 16 points and 12 rebounds, along with three blocks, in registering a double-double.

Dallas received strong nights from Dirk Nowitzki (26 points, 10-of-16 shooting), Vince Carter (28, 10-of-16) and Monta Ellis (21, 8-of-18), but the rest of the squad combined to shoot only 11-of-35.

Game 6 is on Friday in Dallas.

Raptors 115, Nets 113 (Raptors lead series 3-2)

Toronto won their second straight over Brooklyn, led by a monster scoring night from Kyle Lowry, who produced 36 points on 11-of-19 shooting and an 8-for-10 performance from the free throw line.

DeMar DeRozan also made 12-of-13 free throws en route to scoring 23 and Greivis Vasquez added 15 points off the bench for the Raptors, who held on for the win despite being outscored by the Nets 44-24 in the fourth quarter.

They entered the final frame with a 22-point cushion.

Joe Johnson made 13-of-23 shots for Brooklyn to score 30 points and reserve forwards Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson combined for another 30, but Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston were limited to 36 combined. Garnett played only 12 minutes and grabbed two rebounds.

Game 6 will bring the series back to Brooklyn on Friday.

Published: May 1, 2014 04:00 AM

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