Jeremy Lin enjoying peaceful season in “low-key” Houston

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Jeremy Lin is still one of the faces of the franchise — he is the image the team use to sell season tickets, to lure in sponsors, him and now the beard of James Harden. That is what is sold, along with hope for the future.

But being the face of the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks are two different experiences.

And Jeremy Lin is enjoying a season where he can focus on basketball outside of the bright lights of the big city, he told Howard Beck of the New York Times.

“It’s really, really low-key,” Lin said Sunday morning after the Rockets’ shootaround. “And it’s really peaceful. When I walk around, I don’t wear a hat or glasses or anything — unless I want to….

“I think the beautiful thing about this opportunity is there’s less of a spotlight,” Lin said. “There’s room to grow, room to improve, growing pains, things like that — the stuff that has to happen with each player. I’ve only started 30-something games in three years in my whole career. There’s a lot of sophomores out there with more experience than me. I’m going to have to go through a lot to get better.”

Lin is having growing pains this year — he is averaging 10.8 points per game but on 34.3 percent shooting, but with 7.3 assists per contest. He still gets most of his offense as the pick-and-roll ball handler but is shooting just 38.7 percent in that role this season (according to Synergy Sports). He had a PER of 19.9 last season, that is down to a below average 13.8 this season.

In New York, that would be the lead story on the back page of the New York Post every day the Jets didn’t screw something up. In Houston, it barely raises an eyebrow.

Lin is learning by experience now, with the ups and downs that come with it. He is learning how to play with James Harden, a pairing so far that has been below the team’s averages in just about every category, according to NBA.com’s stats. It will take time.

Fortunately for him, he gets to work all this out in relative peace. That’s good for him and the Rockets.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head, literally (video)

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This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.

The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)