Jeremy Lin impressed his teammates with his first career triple-double in Houston’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
The Rockets were even more surprised that he achieved the feat coming off the bench.
Lin tallied 15 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and 10 assists and James Harden returned from injury to score 28 points to help the Rockets to their third straight victory, 106-92. Dwight Howard added 26 points and Terrence Jones had 17.
“That’s hard to do,” Harden said of collecting a triple-double as a reserve. “It’s just hard to be able to score the basketball, grab rebounds and pass the ball and get your teammates involved off the bench as a point guard. It’s tough. But he’s talented enough to do it and he did it.”
Lin is the first Rocket to have a triple-double off the bench since Cedric Maxwell did it on March 31, 1988, against Indiana. Two years removed from “Linsanity” with the New York Knicks, the undrafted player from Harvard is thriving in a backup role in Houston, averaging 13.4 points and 4.5 assists.
“It’s kind of humbling to think about the whole journey and now this,” he said. “It’s another cool thing.”
Harden sat out the last two games with a bruised left thumb. It showed no signs of bothering him Saturday, when he also had four assists and three rebounds. He made 10 of 17 shots after hitting just eight of 24 shots in his previous two games combined.
“I need to injure my hand more often,” he joked. “I shot it better than I’ve been shooting before. I haven’t been shooting the last couple of days so I didn’t know how it was going to react to it, but I just had confidence in my abilities and just went out there and did it.”
Patrick Beverley didn’t score, but helped the Rockets everywhere else with 10 rebounds, eight assists and a career-best five steals.
“You have to give credit to their two guards,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. “Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin played a heck of a game between those guys. Twenty-one rebounds is phenomenal. They just got after it and went after every loose ball and rebounded.”