Sports

Lin expected to start at point guard in Lakers' NBA opener

 

When the Los Angeles Lakers play their 2014-15 NBA season opener on Tuesday night at the Staples Center, only 10 healthy players are expected to suit up for the home team.

Palo Alto High grad Jeremy Lin is one of them, and thus will be in the starting lineup against the Houston Rockets.

"I'm not going to approach it any differently," Lin said of facing his old team. "These are my friends. For 48 minutes they won't be, but afterwards we're all fine.

"To be honest, I'm going to be more antsy about opening night than who we're playing."

The Lakers will be without veteran Steve Nash, who is for the season with an injury, Ronnie price is limping with a bone bruise on his right knee and rookie Jordan Clarkson is recovering from a strained calf.

"Well, really, I'm just the starter, I feel like, because I'm healthy," Lin told various news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times.

Lin did suffer a sprained ankle earlier this month, which allowed Price to step into the starting lineup. When Lin returned, he came off the bench and had excellent chemistry with some of the second unit. That led many to wonder who would start when the regular season finally began.

Then, Price was hurt in the Lakers' last preseason game, making it a little easier for head coach Byron Scott to name Lin as the opening night starter at point guard.

Lin starting now gives this opening night game another interesting story line. Dwight Howard coming back to Staples Center is always one to get the headlines, but Lin playing against his former team will also be worth watching.

This preseason was an impressive one for Lin who showed that he can get to the basket regularly, and create shots for his teammates. With Nash gone and Price banged up, Lin could be in line for plenty of minutes on Tuesday.

Lin averaged 12.5 points and 4.1 assists last season for the Rockets, but lost his starting job to Patrick Beverley, who he'll be facing Tuesday. Houston reportedly liked Beverley's defense better and also moved Lin away from All-Star shooting guard James Harden, who preferred to play with the ball in his hands.

That left Lin as a spot-up shooter, which is not his strength. He's much better with the ball in his hands and creating shots for himself and teammates. Sliding Lin down to the second unit allowed him to assume his more natural point-guard role.

It doesn't seem to greatly bother Lin, who will make $14.9 million this season, though he pauses when asked a simple question. Did he get a fair chance with the Rockets?

"I don't know," he said slowly. "I'll have to think about that."

Once the NBA season gets under way, that won't really matter. Lin is now a member of the Lakers and, as he always does, will find a way to help his team be successful.

"I just want to come out and establish myself," Lin told a group of reporters after practice on Monday. "This is the Western Conference. There have been years when teams have won 50 games and not made the playoffs. We're always fighting for some type of seeding. You just want to get off to a good start."

Elsewhere around the NBA, a handful of former Stanford players are on opening day rosters -- Brook Lopez (Brooklyn), Robin Lopez (Portland), and Landry Fields (Toronto). Recent Cardinal graduate Dwight Powell is on the inactive list for the Boston Celtics.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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