Rockets patient as they wait for Jeremy Lin to find his mojo

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Jeremy Lin himself admitted it — he was a bit surprised by his success and isn’t sure what this season will be like for him.

That isn’t how the Rockets see things. He is their major off-season acquisition. It is Lin’s face on billboards and buses all over town. He is the face of the franchise.

And Lin has struggled to find a groove with the Rockets this preseason. Through three games he has shot 4-of-19 for16 points, with 14 assists and 7 turnovers. He was particularly ineffective against the disciplined Spurs defense. Lin has struggled on defense, on offense he is not creating shots for himself or others.

Lin sat out the Rockets preseason game Monday night, something scheduled from before the start of training camp so he could rest the knee he had surgery on before the summer, and coach Kevin McHale sounds patient with his star, via the Houston Chronicle’s Rockets blog (hat tip to SLAM).

“He’s finding his way, as always happens when you haven’t played in a long time,” McHale said of Lin, who had not played since March prior to training camp. “He had surgery and took a long time off. He’s just getting his confidence back, trying to get his mojo going which is very common.

“I said, ‘Just go out and relax and play. It’s going to come.” Anybody who has ever played and come back has gone through a period it’s kind of odd. All of a sudden, things click and he’s back to playing well and confident.”

It’s preseason, McHale can afford to be patient and understanding. Not that he has a choice to be much different once the games start to matter — this is not a deep team loaded with options for McHale to play around with, this is a rebuilding team and McHale is going to have to ride the Lin train.

But that may not be a smooth ride at all.