Dwight Howard’s pining for point guard help is kind of crushing Jameer Nelson’s soul

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Imagine you’re working on a project with a guy. Your careers depend on it. Now, your partner is an exceptional talent, he’s one of the best guys in the business at what you do. But he needs a complimentary guy with your specific skills. If things go well, you’re looking at being the best in your business. But then, after some struggles, not only is your partner talking about switching companies, but there keeps being talk (from him or elsewhere, word gets around the office) that he wants to work with the guys who are considered better than you. You, specifically, are not good enough for him, despite you having worked together and been successful for years.

Would you want to go to work?

Say hello the life of Jameer Nelson.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Jameer Nelson admitted that Dwight Howard’s mention of playing with opposing point guards affected him.

“Maybe a little bit of that,” he said after playing one of his better games of the season Friday night, scoring 17 points and adding nine assists in the Magic’s 92-80 win against the Lakers.

“I am human. A lot of things affect you…you can have a bad day. All the stuff about other point guards was months ago. If I was hurt, I’m over it.”

via Jameer Nelson admits Howard talk affected him – Orlando Magic BasketBlog – Orlando Sentinel.

Pretty understandable, when you think about it. Who wants to be told the guy you depend on wants one of your direct competitors, especially when you’re supposed to be friends? It’s one of the really bizarre consequences of this new range of superstars. In the past, players that have won titles with one team have committed to their teams and teammates, not just the city. You never saw Tim Duncan talking about wanting to play with Jason Kidd instead of Tony Parker. Granted, Kobe Bryant has openly wanted upgrades, but, then, that’s Kobe Bryant and he has the luxury of playing for the Lakers and therefore never having to lead with any real authority beyond “hit a lot of shots.”

But there was Howard, wanting to play with Deron Williams, or Chris Paul, neither of which have gone to the Finals, when Nelson, who helped Howard win the East in 2009, (yes, Nelson was hurt during the 2009 Finals run, he also had started as a top-ten guard that year and had a huge part in helping the Magic land their playoff spot),and who is supposed to be a friend of Howard’s, is right there, next to him.

Good on Nelson for playing through it. Because if it were me, I wouldn’t just be hurt.

I’d be pretty angry.

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.