Buzz City has never buzzed this much before. And it has a lot to do with the performance of the two Jeremys – Lin and Lamb – as the Charlotte Hornets strive to clinch a playoff berth in the unpredictable Eastern Conference.
The guards with the same initials, Lin and Lamb, combined for 31 points Wednesday night against the New York Knicks, exactly 24 hours after combining for 37 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Hornets emerged victorious on both occasions and improved to a 4-4 record.
The starting back court of Kemba Walker and PJ Hairston hasn’t shot as efficiently. In fact, Hornets coach Steve Clifford has kept Lin on the court for the fourth quarters, at times ahead of Walker.
The Hornets reserves outscored their Timberwolves counterparts 55-23 Tuesday, and followed that up by outscoring Knicks’ bench 45-29 a night later. But Clifford is happier with Lin and Lamb controlling the second unit, along with Cody Zeller, Spencer Hawes and rookie Frank Kaminsky.
“Hopefully (the starters) can play less minutes,” Clifford said when asked about his bench strength. “You think about two years ago literally Kemba (Walker) and Al (Jefferson) were playing 40 to 42 minutes a night. That catches up to you. In many ways I believe that’s why Al got injured in the playoffs (two years ago),” added Clifford.
Clifford praised Lin for the way he guarded Kevin Martin Tuesday. “I kept looking in the fourth quarter (for a way to reinsert Lamb) but Lin was really the one who did the best job on Kevin Martin,” he said after the victory. “That (second five) group was playing well and Cody (Zeller) was giving them trouble running the floor and rolling. It was about that group playing well.”
“A lot of times you can have two true groups so (the same) guys don’t have to play well every night. You have more guys to score,” said Clifford of his plans to persist with his successful rotation.
Again on Wednesday, three of the five second-unit players were on the court during the closing moments. At this juncture of the season, the Hornets’ bench is arguably one of the best in the league.