OAKLAND, Calif. — Jeremy Lin returns to a site that predates “Linsanity” when he leads the Brooklyn Nets against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.
The Warriors will play without All-Star forward Kevin Durant, who sustained a left hand contusion on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. Durant left the game and went to the locker room for an examination and held the Warriors rally to win with a 50-point third quarter and finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds.
Lin, who grew up in the San Jose suburb of Palo Alto, began his NBA career quietly as a member of the Warriors after going undrafted out of Harvard in 2010.
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His 29-game stint with Golden State, interrupted three times by assignments to the NBA Developmental League, ended when he was waived in December 2011, having averaged 2.6 points and 1.4 assists.
Lin was signed three days later by the Houston Rockets and cut loose again before “Linsanity” was born with his signing with the New York Knicks three days after Christmas in 2011.
The San Francisco Bay Area native has returned “home” eight times since then, with mixed results.
The point guard has had two 15-point games and a 14-point, 10-assist double-double as an opponent at Oracle Arena. But he also hasbeen held scoreless once and has lost on five of the eight occasions.
The chances of a sixth loss appear to be high Saturday night, with not only the Nets having to endure the second night of a back-to-back sequences, but also facing a Warriors team that has the best record in the NBA.
Lin returned from a 26-game absence due to a hamstring injury to contribute seven points and five assists to a 129-109 loss on Friday night at Denver. The seven-year veteran had scored in double figures in all 12 games in which he’d previously played this season.
Despite not having played in seven weeks, Lin was pressed right back into the starting lineup and played 15 minutes as the Nets are attempting to gauge whether he and center Brook Lopez can be cornerpieces to a brighter future.
Friday’s loss at Denver was the Nets’ 15th in a row, adding to their league-worst 9-48 record.
“To have a healthy Jeremy and a healthy Brook out there together with this team, it’ll be nice to evaluate that,” Nets general manager Sean Marks told reporters Thursday. “It’s something we started the season off with, and unfortunately, we only got a handful of games under our belt seeing that. We all know what those two bring to the table: They lift everybody else’s play.”
Even with Lin having missed a majority of their games, the Nets lead the NBA in pace of play. That has helped produce an average offensive team, but also the NBA’s worst defensive numbers.
Meanwhile, the Warriors, coming off a 123-113 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, lead the NBA in scoring.
The Warriors got big men Zaza Pachulia and David West back from injuries for Thursday’s game.
“(Pachulia and West) both made huge impacts on the game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after watching them combine for 10 points, eight rebounds and six blocked shots in 29 minutes. “I loved Zaza’s physicality. We missed that. I thought David came in and gave us a huge lift as well. Really nice to have both of them back.”