Artest to donate “Dancing” winnings to cancer charity

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After saying publicly he didn’t plan on doing Dancing with the Stars (as well as telling a lot of people around him the same thing) everything changed pretty quickly for Ron Artest.

There he was Monday night, running out on stage — he was the only one to take off his shirt while doing it — during the live “Dancing” cast reveal on ABC.

Why the change of heart? His daughter. And in her honor the money he raises being on the show will be donated to a cancer charity, he told the Los Angeles Times.

“(Artest’s 8-year-old daughter Diamond) said, ‘Daddy, you can do it,’ ” Artest recalled Monday in a phone interview. “It’s going to be fun.”

It wasn’t just a case of Artest being unable to say no to his daughter. At age 4 in 2007, Diamond was diagnosed with wilms tumor, Artest said, a kidney cancer that affects children. So in honor of his daughter successfully fighting the illness, Artest said he plans to donate the money he earns on “Dancing with the Stars” to the Cancer Research Foundation….

“That’s the only reason I’m doing it,” Artest said. “I’m doing it for a cause.”

That means at least $125,000 for the charity and more if he advances. Theoretically he could be called away from the show to go back to his day job as a Los Angeles Lakers forward if the lockout ends, but nobody seems terribly worried about that outcome.

Artest — who will officially be named Metta World Peace by the time the show airs — has said he can’t dance, but he is fearless about trying new things, about putting himself out there. Got to give him some credit for that.

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.