FIRST GAME: Houston 105, Detroit 96
2. 1. Jeremy Lin dishing to James Harden. This is one of Lin’s 8 assists and two of Harden’s 37 points.
Lin and Harden are the Rockets’ two big 2012 acquisitions and generally rockin’ dudes. Together, they form one of the most fluid and dynamic backcourts in the league, each capable of handling the ball, running the pick and roll, and finishing at the rim. While Harden’s the more versatile scorer and better overall player, Lin seems to have improved his jump shot in the offseason, and together, they stabilize a rotation that’s otherwise filled with young, uncertain assets.
3. 2. Lin to Omer Asik
Asik is the Rockets’ new center and a lockdown defensive specialist. Houston hopes he can be one of the league’s best defenders, but his offensive game is raw at best. Here, Lin feeds him a perfect pass into the paint, and Asik has an easy time using his size and the defense’s surprise to finish.
4. 3. Lin to Harden, part deux
5. 4. Harden to Carlos Delfino. This is one of Harden’s 12 assists. (Yeah — 37 points, 12 assists.)
Delfino’s a streaky-fun three-point shooter, and Harden and Lin’s ability to drive and kick will create lots of chances of him to go nuts on the perimeter. He will also launch a lot of contested fadeaway jumpers with 15 seconds left on the shot clock.
6. 5. Harden does it ALL. BY. HIMSELF
SECOND GAME: Houston 109, Atlanta 102
8. 6. Lin bounce pass to Harden. (Lin had 21 points, 7 assists, and 10 rebounds; Harden had 45 points. 45 points.)
9. 7. Harden nails a three and gets the foul.
10. 8. Lin to Harden for threeeeeeeeeeee
Lin and Harden are both very good at penetrating; if each can hit threes off the other’s kickouts, they’ll really have a stew going.
11. 9. FLIP THE SCRIPT Harden to Lin
THIRD GAME: Houston 81, Portland 81. (Houston lost in overtime 95-85, but who’s counting!)
13. 10. These fans
Look, everyone’s happy about Harden being in Houston. (Everyone except for OKC fans, anyway.)
14. 11. Harden no-look bounce pass to Cole Aldrich (Harden had 5 assists to go with 24 points and 6 rebounds)
For a two-guard and primary scorer, Harden is a top-notch passer and playmaker. After making a good cut, this play couldn’t be any easier for Aldrich.
15. 12. Icy Harden stepback
16. 13. Harden takes it to the hoop and finishes despite ending on the hardwood
17. 14. And Lin drops a floater and goes down himself
Both of these last two GIFs show a common factor shared by Harden and Lin: they’re gutsy as hell. As past folk heroes and sort-of novelties, the pair need to maintain a high level of intensity and scrap a little more than stars on other teams might, and so far, they haven’t disappointed. Now we just have to hope they stay healthy — if they do, the Rockets have the look of a playoff squad.