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Wednesday, October 17, 2018


James Harden reveals he is playing through ankle injury

The Houston Rockets came back to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder and take a commanding 3-1 series lead on Sunday despite a rough night from James Harden. It will be difficult for Houston to continue winning if Harden shoots 31 percent from the floor, so the MVP candidate’s sore ankle will be something to keep an eye on.

After Houston’s 113-106 victory in Game 4, Harden told ESPN’s Lisa Salters that he has been dealing with an ankle injury he suffered during Game 3. He scored just 16 points Sunday on 5-of-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 from 3-point range.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” told reporters when asked about his health, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Harden grabbed seven rebounds and dished out eight assists in Game 4, so it’s not as if he was rendered useless. Still, he looked nowhere near the player who averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game during the regular season. His point totals in the first three games of the Western Conference quarterfinals were 37, 35 and 44.

As Watkins notes, Harden did not have a noticeable limp but also was not attacking the rim like he typically does. Should Harden struggle again in Game 5, people are going to start believing Bay Area rapper Lil B was actually successful in cursing him again.

Houston will look to finish off the Thunder in Game 5 Tuesday night.

Jeff Teague says he wants to stay with Pacers

Indiana Pacers point guard Jeff Teague is set to become an unrestricted free agent, but he has voiced his desire to stay with his hometown team.

The Indianapolis native said after Sunday’s season-ending loss to Cleveland that he’d prefer to stay with the Pacers.

“I love Indiana,” Teague said, via Lang Whitaker of NBA.com. “You all know me, born and raised, tattoos on my arm. I’ve wanted to play for the Pacers my whole life. It’s a great opportunity for me and I love to be here.”

Teague played in all 82 games for the Pacers during the regular season, averaging a productive 15.3 points and 7.8 assists per game. He turns 29 in June, so logically, he still has some good years left in him, but he’ll have options outside of Indiana on the open market.

Kristaps Porzingis: I want to stay with Knicks, but winning is most important

Kristaps Porzingis

The New York Knicks are probably going to look to build around Kristaps Porzingis if and when they move on from Carmelo Anthony, but what if the 21-year-old Latvian star decides he wants out of The Big Apple?

In a recent interview in his home country, Porzingis seemed to stop short of committing to the Knicks for the long-term. While he said he wants to remain in New York, the former fourth overall pick hinted that he is not going to re-sign with the Knicks if the team continues to struggle.

“Absolutely, I want to stay here all my career,” Porzingis told Latvian sports magazine Sporta Avize, via Marc Berman of the New York Post. “But the thing I want most of all is winning. When the time comes, I will seriously start to think about it. Right now I just try to do my best.”

Porzingis, who averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game in his second NBA season, has two years remaining on his rookie contract. His interview with Sporta Avize took place before he skipped his exit meeting with the Knicks, reportedly because he was upset with the drama surrounding the team. Porzingis alluded to that in the March 20 interview when discussing the tension between Anthony and Phil Jackson.

“This was a situation media did not hesitate to heat up more than it was in reality,” he said. “I think there was some mistakes from Phil — things he maybe shouldn’t [have] said or written, things that made the situation worse or made him not look good. But at the same time — it’s that kind of business. I understand.”

For what it’s worth, Porzingis told the New York Post last week that he loves New York and wants to remain with the Knicks. However, the way he subtly supported Anthony on social media recently could be very telling. The Knicks have a ton of issues heading into the offseason, and players are reportedly unhappy with the team’s offensive system. It would not be a stretch to assume Porzingis is among them.

Jimmy Butler rips Marcus Smart in post-Game 4 interview: ‘He’s not about that life’

Jimmy Butler Chicago Bulls

Leave it to Marcus Smart to send Jimmy Butler into Hit ‘Em Up mode.

After the Boston Celtics defeated the Chicago Bulls in Game 4 on Sunday to knot their first-round series at two games apiece, Butler ripped into Smart, calling him “a great actor” and saying that he was “not about that life.”

Butler and Smart exchanged words in the second quarter and had to be separated, earning double technical fouls for their efforts.

Butler’s comments may have partly been due to the frustration of dropping two straight home games to blow a 2-0 series lead (as we saw from his head coach as well). But for a series that has already been chock full of entertaining side beefs, now we have a Butler-Smart blood battle to add to the fun.

Fred Hoiberg rips officials, says Isaiah Thomas allowed to carry ball

Fred Hoiberg

The Bulls dropped their second straight game to the Celtics on Sunday. Afterward, Chicago head coach Fred Hoiberg had his sights set squarely the officials.

The Bulls jumped out to a 2-0 lead in their series against the Celtics prior to heading to Chicago for the next two games. However, the series is now tied after Boston has taken the next two games. With frustration obviously running high in the Bulls locker room, Hoiberg vented a bit after the game. He criticized the officiating and brought up how he feels Isaiah Thomas frequently gets away with carrying the ball.

Hoiberg spent 10 seasons in the NBA as a player and is now in his second as a head coach. He knows as well as anyone how little carrying or palming is called during NBA games, which is hardly ever.

That said, he’s not the first coach this postseason to voice his displeasure with the way games have been officiated. David Fizdale went on an epic rant after Game 2 of the series between the Grizzlies and Spurs that inspired a t-shirt to be created. You can see video of the rant here and a picture of the shirt here.

Rockets bench laughs at Andre Roberson’s bad free throw shooting (Video)

It’s safe to say the Rockets’ bench enjoyed watching Andre Roberson miss free throw attempts on Sunday.

Houston left Oklahoma City with a 113-109 victory over the Thunder and took a 3-1 in their best-of-seven series. Among the reasons the Rockets were able to come away with the win was the poor free throw shooting by the Thunder.

The Thunder converted on just 18-of-32 shots from the line. Roberson struggled mightily, making just 2-of-12 attempts. Houston knows Roberson is not the best free throw shooter, so they repeatedly sent him to the line, hoping he would miss. And he did for the most part.

At one point late in the fourth quarter, after a Roberson miss, the Rockets bench could be seen cracking up with laughter.

During the regular season, Roberson was at 42 percent shooter from the free-throw line. However, he provides value to the Thunder as the team’s best defender, which makes for a tough decision for head coach Billy Donovan in late game situations such as Sunday.

While Roberson did contribute in other ways, including 13 points, two steals, and five blocked shots, it was his lack of makes from the free throw line that drew criticism and laughter.

Robin Lopez unties, then reties Jae Crowder’s shoe in strange sequence (Video)

The Chicago Bulls continue to clown Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder.

In the third quarter of Game 4 between the Bulls and the Celtics on Sunday, Chicago center Robin Lopez got tangled up with Crowder underneath the basket and lost his shoe. This kicked off a bizarre sequence where Crowder threw the shoe out of bounds and Lopez responded by untying Crowder’s shoe, then retying it as a sort of peace offering after retrieving his own shoe.

Interestingly enough, Crowder was actually the one who was whistled for a delay of game violation, perhaps for initiating the entire episode by tossing Lopez’s shoe out of bounds in the first place. Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler then sank the ensuing free throw.

The incident comes after Rajon Rondo was fined for an attempted trip of Crowder in Game 3 on Friday (video here), so Crowder should probably do his best to stay away from those darn Bulls and their mischievous shoes.