Houston Rockets preseason 2012: Jeremy Lin says team is better defensively

Scott Halleran

Jeremy Lin spoke with the media after Monday's practice and said he believes the Rockets are better defensively after five preseason games.

Even at the height of Linsanity, Jeremy Lin was never considered a defensive stopper at the point guard position. For what he was able to do offensively, torching defenders in the pick and roll and knocking down big shots, opposing guards were able to pretty much have their way with Lin.

Good thing for the Rockets that their new franchise player is all about improving. That's what the preseason is for, and the team is taking advantage of the opportunity. The Rockets are going to need all the practice and preparation they can get before the games start to actually count.

So far, Lin says he's noticed the team's improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Lin and Kevin Martin are the only proven scorers on the team, which means defense is going to be a lot more important in Houston than it was in New York for Lin.

The Rockets allowed 105 points to the Thunder in their preseason opener, but the difference for Houston was made at the free throw line. Still, Houston's been pretty good defensively even in defeat.

The Rockets gave up more than 50 percent from the field to both the Spurs and Mavericks, but were active in getting steals and that's the only preseason games so far that an opponent shot over 50 percent.

Having Omer Asik at center is going to make up for Lin and Martin (the scorers) defending the perimeter, but I get the feeling this is going to be a team effort. All the Rockets have is each other because not a lot of smart people believe in this team.

Lin's knee

You'll notice in the interview that Lin has to address how his knee is doing twice. He says it's fine and that there haven't been any major setbacks - that it's right where the teams want it to be, wherever that is.

It's important for the media to keep asking because of how much the Rockets are relying on their new point guard to stay healthy, not only so they can be competitive, but so they can be relevant whether Lin is successful or not.

No one wants to see Lin in a suit, because that doesn't confirm or disprove the theories and predictions about how good or bad he'll be, and whether or not he's up for his role as the leader of this Rockets' team. Normally, reporters ask about injuries just because it's proper to be thorough. But Lin's knee has more implications and it's a bigger story if it indeed has legs.

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