He has found his “peace” again, and that in turn has allowed Jeremy Lin to play with freedom.
Lin has performed at his best with the Lakers this season after the All-Star break, his game now flourishing.
“When I was a rookie, I put myself through mental torment,” Lin said. “I can’t do that anymore. So now I’m just growing more as a person spiritually and just learning to surrender it all. It gives me a lot of peace, man. It gives me a lot of peace.”
In the four games since the All-Star break, Lin has been one of the most consistent Lakers.
He has averaged a team-best 16.3 points per game since the break and shot 50% (23-for-46) from the field. Lin has done it as a reserve, even leading the Lakers in scoring twice off the bench since the break.
“At the All-Star break, I had a chance to get away and reset mentally,” Lin said. “I’m trying to come out in attack mode. I’m just really trying to have a very free mind when I play. It’s like while I’m playing, I’m reminding myself that regardless of the results, just play, play for God. It seems like very basic, but when you care a lot about the game, you really care about the results, obviously.”
Lin is in the final year of his contract, but he said his latest push at playing better isn’t because he’s looking for another deal.
“I can honestly say it hasn’t factored into my equation at all this year,” Lin said. “The reason why I say that is because I never thought I would make it to the NBA. I never thought I’d make the money that I’ve made. I never expected to have what I have today, so a lot of it is just trusting. God has always taken care of me. I don’t need to stress about it. I really am not worried about it.”
In the midst of the Lakers’ three-game winning streak, they have shown signs of playing better defense.
They have held two of three opponents to under 100 points.
In their victory over Milwaukee on Friday night, the Lakers limited the Bucks to just 21 points in the fourth quarter.
“The last three games defensively have been great, especially in the fourth quarter,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said after practice Saturday. “I’m just happy with the progress that our guys are making, and the process is going well.”
The Lakers are also seeking to get their first four-game winning streak of the season.
Their chances improved after it was announced that Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook won’t play Sunday after surgery for a facial fracture of his right cheek suffered Friday night at Portland.
“We’re not used to that, but it feels good,” Scott said. “I think our guys are hungry to see if they can get four.”
Nick Young is expected to miss his third consecutive game because of swelling in his left knee.
Lakers’ lottery update
Good news, Lakers fans, a three-game winning streak! (Crickets. Crickets. More crickets.) Yeah, it might help team morale, but the lottery gods might not be as happy. So far, the Lakers still own the NBA’s fourth-worst record. They need to stay in the bottom five to keep their draft pick. Below are standings of the five worst teams after Saturday’s games and odds to land the No. 1 overall pick after the May 19 lottery.
TEAM; W-L; PCT. ODDS
1. New York 11-46 25%
2. Philadelphia 13-45 15.6%
3. Minnesota 13-44 19.9%
4. Lakers 16-41 10.4%
5. Orlando 19-41 10.3%
LAKERS VS. OKLAHOMA CITY
When: 3:30 p.m. PST Sunday.
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, ESPN , TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 16-41; Thunder 32-27.
Record vs. Thunder: 0-1.
Update: The Lakers won’t face Thunder All-Stars Russell Westbrook (surgery for a right cheek fracture) and Kevin Durant (right foot injury). Westbrook, who had his third consecutive triple-double Friday against the Trail Blazers with 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, averaged 31.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists during February. D.J. Augustin will start for Westbrook.