Yao Ming has ankle surgery, considering comeback

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UPDATE 4:20 pm: Yao Ming released this statement after his surgery.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their ongoing support. I know this will be another long rehab, but I’m looking forward to beginning my recovery. I will use this time to consider all of my options, and will make a decision regarding my career plans as I get closer to the end of my rehab.”

The surgery was deemed successful. Yao sounds less confident about his plans here, but this is a public statement in which it would be smart to leave his options open. There are still the reports (listed below) that say his goal is to return.

1:04 pm: Yao Ming had another surgery today, this one to repair a fracture in his left ankle.

There is no timetable for a return — but he does want to return, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo, who broke the story on twitter.

Yao was previously diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left ankle, an injury that was expected to keep him out for the season. That after he missed all of last season following foot surgery.

Yao has been discussed in trades because he has a massive, $17 million expiring contract. However, nothing has yet come of that, and even if a team did trade for him they may well not want to re-sign him.

Yao said last summer he might just walk away from the game if he couldn’t get healthy, but now he sounds like he wants to give it one more shot. That may well be somewhere other than Houston — the only franchise he has ever known in the Association — but anyone showing interest in him would be taking a flyer.

Not a lot of players would have the desire and determination to continue doing all this rehab work to get back on the court. Yao, however, is not your average player. One thing he has always had is a fantastic work ethic. And he’s apparently not ready to give up on the game just yet.

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

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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.