It’s been a bad week for Linsanity. He’s missed critical shots before, but now he’s missing critical game time. In the past two games, interim head coach Kelvin Sampson has chosen to sit the $25m dollar Lin in favor of another ex-Knick, Toney Douglas. Despite the criticism levied against him by Rockets fans, Douglas has somehow justified himself to the coaching staff through shooting and something that looks like defense. Jeremy’s getting frustrated, and maybe even demoralized, and it only seems to be hurting his shot further.

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Houston Rockets 93, Chicago Bulls 89

For once, the Rockets met just the team they needed to. After a disastrous three game slide including two blowouts, the Rockets needed someone to right their ship against. The Bulls, with their crushing defense and spotty offense, provided exactly the trial and opportunity this young Rockets team needed to settle down on both ends of the ball. It wasn’t always a pretty game, but it was a win for the team’s growth and their record.

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Preview: Bulls @ Rockets

The Bulls arrive in Houston as part of their annual Circus Road Trip, when their home floor is turned into a big tent and they have to take what is usually an obscenely long tour of the country by NBA standards. This year it’s a mercifully short 5 games, of which the Rockets are the fourth. They will be looking to bounce back after bad losses to the Clippers and Blazers, and come in with a couple of days rest. The Rockets, on the other hand, looked tired and beaten down in their loss to the Jazz on Monday night, and have only had one night off to recover. It remains to be seen whether James Harden can recover from the illness that beset him during that game.

Lineups:

There’s a glaring hole in the Chicago Bulls lineup where Derrick Rose should be. This team is basically treading water until he can get back, hoping to stay afloat in the comparatively uncompetitive Eastern Conference without him. And they still boast the core of the great team of the past few seasons – Hamilton, Deng, Boozer and Noah all return as starters from last year, and Gibson is still there coming off the bench and providing great defence. But the rest of the team has been assembled on the cheap from the free agent market. Aging veteran Kirk Hinrich starts at the point, with Nate Robinson coming off the bench to provide a bit his usual scoring. Marco Belinelli can come in for three point shooting, and Nazr Mohammed is still hanging around in the league providing backup big man minutes. The one young player to break his way into the rotation of what is otherwise a very old team is Jimmy Butler, who in his second year has looked good in limited minutes.

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Searching for Linsanity

When Daryl Morey offered Jeremy Lin a back-loaded 3-years $25 million contract this offseason, the move generated both controversy and excitement amongst Rocket fans. Were the Rockets getting a bargain on a potential star player with international appeal who had taken the league by storm over the span of a few weeks of “Linsanity” or had they just overpaid for a mediocre turnover-prone point guard with no jump shot? While it is far too early to definitively evaluate Lin’s season (let alone his NBA career), early signs suggest that, as is often the case, the truth lies somewhere in-between these two extremes.

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