When the Houston Rockets acquired Jeremy Lin in the summer of 2012, the expectation was that the former Ivy League star would team up with fellow recent acquisition James Harden to form a potent one-two punch offensively.
So far, the plan has worked to a tee, as Harden and Lin have the Rockets in postseason contention, sitting seventh in the Western Conference with a handful of games remaining.
However, with Harden currently out of the lineup nursing a sore right foot (per the Associated Press via ESPN.com), more of the offensive onus falls on Lin, because it's not easy to replace the All-Star's 26 points per game.
But at least one game into Harden's absence, Lin has the Rockets soaring, as Houston took down the vaunted L.A. Clippers by a score of 98-81 on Saturday night.
Without Harden, the Rockets still managed to move the ball around offensively, and Lin led the way with 15 points.
Interestingly, it was Lin's best offensive performance in over a week, as he failed to record double digits in four straight games after three straight 20-point performances.
But none of that will matter if Lin can do what he was brought to Houston for, which is get the Rockets back into the postseason.
Lin isn't the game-breaking superstar he looked like at times last season with the Knicks, but he's also not the mere complementary player that he has been for spurts this year.
Instead, he's an ideal sidekick for Harden, the team's unquestioned star, and if both can enter the playoffs firing on all cylinders, they'll be a very dangerous duo regardless of whom they play.
Before that, Lin has to lead Houston until Harden returns.
And if Harden misses more games, Lin has the tools and instincts to lead the Rockets into the playoffs with momentum, as he showed on Saturday night against the postseason-bound Clippers.
He has help around him in Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons, but there's no question that without Harden, this is Lin's team.
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