Erick Dampier not nearly as much of a Rocket as we may have previously thought

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There was talk, and then there was more talk, and it looked very much like Erick Dampier was going to be a Rocket. Even Jermaine Taylor was getting shoved out the door in a way that suggested he had his spot reserved for someone else. Certainly looks like the Rockets need some more size with Yao Ming not playing back to backs and only playing 24 minutes a game due to his recovery from the injury.

Or, you know, maybe not.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Rockets have informed Jermaine Taylor he will not be released because they do not intend to sign Dampier after all. The best part about this story? Taylor’s not even all that happy he’s being retained.

“I’m happy to still be here and still have a job, but then again, I kind of wonder what would have happened if I went somewhere else. I won’t get any playing time here with guys like Courtney Lee, Kevin Martin, unless they get hurt. I kind of know if I went somewhere else, I would have had a chance to play. I have mixed feelings about it.”

Sorry to keep you there, Jermaine. I’m sure there are several teams dying to pick you up… and then bury you at the edge of the bench just as you are now. Taylor needs to take notice of how the Rockets have used their development talent, bringing them along slowly and then giving them more and more responsibilities. Even with the depth the Rockets have, there are opportunities to be had during a season.

For Dampier, it’s the second team that was believed to have offered a contract and then decided not so much, after Miami. So now you have to wonder what the real issue is with his body and why the Rockets have elected not to acquire him, despite a need. The Rockets need another center badly, but apparently Dampier doesn’t fit what they do. So now the question becomes who will pick him up, Portland, Sacramento, Phoenix, or anyone?

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.