Jamal Crawford wouldn’t mind playing in Portland

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Around the league, players love Jamal Crawford. He is a popular guy in league locker rooms. And he’s a guy who can come off the bench and light it up — he’s not going to be efficient doing that, and he’ll get lost on defense every other time down, but he’ll put up points. That’s how he won sixth man of the year in 2010 with the Hawks.

All that and his age (soon to be 32) sets him up to be one of the most overpaid players this free agency period (whenever that is post lockout). And LaMarcus Aldridge has lobbied hard to make Portland the team that overpays him, even asking fans to try and recruit him on twitter. (Because the Trail Blazers don’t have enough contracts to worry about like Greg Oden and Brandon Roy.) Aldridge put on the full court press when Crawford came to Rip City last weekend for a charity game.

Crawford himself likes the idea, he told Ben Goliver of Eye on Basketball.

“Yeah, definitely,” Crawford said. “I’ve been watching the Blazers so long with Brandon [Roy] being one of my best friends. With LaMarcus here, Wes and Ray, it’s almost close to a hometown team. I’m from Seattle. It’s the closest thing we have to basketball right now.”

“I think I would bring a little bit of everything to Portland,” Crawford said. “Scoring, creating for other people. Trying to make the game easier for my teammates… I think they’re a team on the rise.”

There are teams where Crawford makes sense. Win now teams. Portland, on the other hand, needs to scrapping the last win now plan and building for the long term. Which is not what owner Paul Allen wanted to hear (so he fired Rich Cho), he wants to think this team is closer to winning than it is. So Allen may want to go after him.

But Paul Allen himself will prevent that with his hardline stance in negotiations. Portland already has $73 million committed for next season, well over the projected salary cap and luxury tax lines. And even if they amnesty Brandon Roy (which they likely will not) and get Oden to take less, the Blazers are not going to have the money to pay what Crawford will get on the open market.

So, nice dream, but not going to happen.

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.