Los Angeles Lakers point guard Jeremy Lin returned Tuesday in a 108-114 preseason loss to the Phoenix Suns. After missing over a week with a sprained left ankle, Lin led a furious comeback in 4th quarter, scoring 12 points and dishing two assists, as the Lakers went on a 17-9 run to the tie the game at 88.
Lin, who missed the previous three games, had 15 points with 5 assists and 0 turnovers. He took 10 free throw attempts. With 11.5 seconds left in the regulation, the first Chinese-American basketball player fouled out.
To put things into perspective, Lin was second in line behind Kobe Bryant, who scored 27 points on 50 percent shooting, but had two assists and five turnovers, in points. Wesley Johnson also had 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, and 8 turnovers, and Julius Randle had only three points, on 1-5 shooting, in 18 minute.
Earlier this month, coach Byron Scott had expressed his desire to start Lin, as Steve Nash sustained a back injury carrying bags, but would like to first see Lin get re-acclimated to the court's rhythm off the bench.
"There's no thought process right now," Scott said before the game. "Ronnie has been playing. Jeremy hasn't. So he's going to have to come in tonight and get his feet wet again, and we'll go from there."
After the game Bryant touched on what a difference it made to have Lin back.
"Jeremy Lin makes a big difference - creating shots for others, somebody else that can penetrate and make plays for others and put pressure on the defense. It makes a really big difference," said Bryant, according to Lakersnation.com.
In reverse, Lin also talked in depth about the types of things Bryant was teaching him on the court, details that Lin says he would have never even thought about if Bryant hadn't mentioned it.
As a team, the Lakers were unable to catch a break with the rest of their injured backcourt, as Nash and Jordan Clarkson, who sprained his calf, missed Tuesday's game. Scott said Clarkson will probably have to wait another day or so until he gets better and offered no specific timeframe for Nash's return.
With a slew of injuries, the Lakers' top priority now is to get the players healthy again and avoid any more injuries, during games and practices.
The Lakers play the Portland Trailblazers Thursday in Ontario, California.