Jeremy Lin's Homecoming a Crucial Showcase for Rockets' PG

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IFebruary 12, 2013

January 30, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin (7)  during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.  The Nuggets won 118-110.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets play the Golden State Warriors tonight, but it is more than just another game for starting point guard Jeremy Lin. This game is also a homecoming for him, as he grew up in nearby Palo Alto and also had a brief stint with Golden State in 2010.

A big game would mean a lot for both his team and himself.

This is an opportunity for Lin to play in front of his family, friends and hometown fans, and a strong performance would be huge for the Harvard grad, win or lose. Playing for a team is one thing, but playing in front of family and friends is on a completely different level.

Lin has already faced the Warriors once this season, on Feb. 5, and had a fine game in what was a record-tying performance for the Rockets. In a 140-109 victory, Lin had 28 points and nine assists, making 10-of-16 shots and sinking five three-pointers.

That performance was the definition of Linsanity, something that Lin has struggled to capture all season long.

He has posted just 12.5 points and 6.1 assists while shooting 44 percent from the field and 32 percent from long range this year. His defense has been fine at 1.9 steals per game, but the fact that he has been so inconsistent on offense does not really justify the three-year deal he signed with Houston in July.

Just the same, Lin is in a prime position to have an excellent game against his hometown Golden State Warriors tonight. Both teams are offense-oriented and like to play a run-and-gun style, and we all know that the point guard is king in that system.

It may be tough against a rowdy Golden State crowd, but Lin needs to get over that and just think about the support system he will have in the stands. From his parents to friends to fans, there is really no reason that he should not have a solid game against the Warriors.

This means that he cannot show any hesitation whatsoever when he is on the court. If he sees an opening and an opportunity to drive the lane, he must take it. If he sees an open teammate, he must dish off the pass.

If he is open in three-point territory, he must demand the ball and take the shot.

The fact of the matter is that Houston has won three of five, and Golden State has lost four in a row. The Rockets are going to be out to take full advantage of the situation, but they cannot do so without a solid performance from Lin.

He's going to have to dig deep and find the Linsanity, as the Rockets rank eighth in the highly competitive Western Conference and hold that spot by just two games. With Houston's hot-and-cold nature that has existed all season, an average game is simply not an option for Lin tonight.

Simply put, he needs to have a great game not only for himself and his hometown fans, but also for his team. Houston is 5-3 when Lin scores 20 or more points, and that win total can increase tonight.

It's just a matter of Lin taking everything in at the start, and then shaking it off to just play the game. Should he be able to execute all of his opportunities, it will be a fine homecoming for him as well as a great victory for the Rockets.

Otherwise, he has a long way to go in proving that Linsanity was more than just a brief fad.