Jeremy Lin’s back felt fine after he went through a full practice with his teammates Thursday, and he hopes to return to the court Friday night when the Nets play at Orlando.
Lin missed 17 straight games with a hamstring injury, returned to play 20 minutes against the Rockets on Monday night and then sat out Wednesday night’s game at Barclays Center with back tightness. Though the team won’t decide until game time whether Lin will be available in Orlando, he said the back issue isn’t something to cause great concern.
“I think it’s not anything seriously long term,” Lin said. “Wake up tomorrow, if I feel good, we’ll go through the process. If not, it’s day-to-day . . . It feels good today. We’ll see how it responds tomorrow. No guarantees right now.”
The Nets (7-17) played some of their best basketball of the season in the 20 minutes in which Lin was on the floor Monday night. Though they lost to a tough Rockets team, 122-118, the Nets were plus-17 points on the scoreboard when he was in the game. When he was out? They were a minus-21.
Lin said that in some ways, playing basketball is like riding a bike because it didn’t take him all that long to feel comfortable running the offense even though he hadn’t played since Nov. 2. In other ways, however, there were some adjustments.
“Some of the stuff, in terms of my feel for the game, it didn’t feel like I was gone for that long,” Lin said. “I felt the rhythm. Free throws or coming down and shooting certain shots or even just an open shoot-and-catch three, it feels so different in a game environment. You know, you have opponents running at you. So it was more of that stuff than the overall feel and control of the game. Running plays and going up and down in transition, that stuff is fine.”
The Nets were able to defeat a swooning Lakers team without Lin. Their overall record without him, however, is 5-13 and included a seven-game losing streak.
Though Lin would have rather been out on the floor, he said he discovered some things about himself and his teammates by sitting on the bench.
“Yeah, I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “Number one, be more thankful. I have a deeper appreciation for the fact I’ve been relatively healthy for a long time and I’ve barely missed any games, minus my second year.
“And then for specifically this team, I think I figured [some things] out. I haven’t figured it out in terms of me being on the floor, but I feel like I’m seeing what the team needs and how I can run certain plays for certain players. I’ve been trying to come up with different ways to manipulate the defense.” Lin can’t wait to put those plans into motion as the team embarks on a three-game road trip.
Said Lin: “Home, road, for me it doesn’t matter as much. I just want to be out there.”