Fear DeMarcus Cousins, for he is a beast

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Thumbnail image for cousins_no1.jpgHow did this guy fall to No. 5 again?

One Summer League game is a meaninglessly small sample size. But it was big enough to make you realize this — DeMarcus Cousins could be a beast in the NBA. He is a big man in a world of big men, but he has touch and feel.

Cousins finished with 14 points and 10 boards, showed great footwork, was strong on the block, worked hard on defense most of the time, had good moves and even a face-up game not seen at Kentucky this year.

“I was very nervous in the beginning, I really didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how I would manage through the game,” Cousins said. “But it came pretty easy.”

He didn’t look nervous, he looked like a guy having fun. Talking trash to Edgar Sosa. Getting out and running. Making the right play — he got doubled on the block early and he make the right pass out of the double to the shooter multiple times. He’s a gifted passer, and the fact he was a big man who passed out of the block at Summer League alone made him stand out.

At a couple times, he was having too much fun.

“He forced it a couple times, he tried to dribble it up the court, but, give it to your point guard DeMarcus and get your big butt down on the box,” said Sacramento Summer League coach Mario Elie.

Cousins even tried to show off his mid-range game for Elie. And he’s not the outside shooter Elie was (who is?) but he hit shots doing it. Cousins’ jumper release is a little low and the follow through needs to be better (or exist) but if he’s close now he could be good enough to really make you respect him outside the paint.

“I’ve had (and outside shot), but coach Cal didn’t need me to do that at UK, now I just go do what I do,” Cousins said.

It was easy to picture the Sacramento offense next season: Tyreke Evans coming off the high Cousins pick. It’s going to be brutal to stop. Evans can get into the lane with anyone, but show out hard to take that away and Cousins is rolling hard (or popping out off a flat screen).

Sacramento is going to be a lot of fun this year.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “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.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.