Baseline to Baseline recaps: Sacramento fans come out in force

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What you missed while making your Valentines Day dinner reservations at Waffle House….

Lakers 88, Celtics 87 (OT): It felt like and old rivalry when these two got together in our game of the night.

Kings 106, Thunder 101: Kings fans used this game to remind you that they are as good as they come. The team has sucked for years, the building needs to be replaced, but if you remember the Chris Webber/cowbell era you know how great the fans in that city are. And they were out in force to remind you they love the Kings in a nationally televised game. Arena issues or no, these are not fans who deserve to lose a team.

And they got treated to a great ending. The Kings came out on an 11-2 run and while the Thunder came back the Kings hung with the top team in the West all night long (neither team ever got a double-digit lead).

Then early in the fourth it seemed the Thunder were going to run away and hide. Which is kind of what everyone expected. But this was the playoffs for the Kings — they were on national television against the best in the West and this is as good as it gets for them this year.

In the final five minutes, Sacramento outscored OKC 19-6. In the final six minutes Kevin Durant shot 1-of-5 and Russell Westbrook had three turnovers — at the end of games the Thunder go with too much isolation (and long jumpers) and too little ball movement. It ‘s something they need to work on. Tyreke Evans had 22, DeMarcus Cousins 19. Great win for the Kings.

Rockets 96, Suns 89: Depth matters a lot in a condensed NBA season and it won Houston this game — the Rockets won the bench scoring battle 57-13. Houston had seven players in double figures scoring and guys like Goran Dragic came in and dominated. But our man Brett Pollakoff pointed out what may be most important — Kevin McHale trusted his bench and went with the hot hands, Alvin Gentry did not and ran his starters big minutes (41 for Marcin Gortat, it cost them late). Let the results speak for themselves.

In case you wonder why Steve Nash is an All-Star, he had 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting plus 13 assists. Imagine what he could do with actual talent around him.

Warriors 109, Nuggets 101: The Denver Nuggets got blown out at home by Golden State, the Nuggets fifth straight loss. That should send up enough red flags to start a Les Miserables musical production. It’s not all about the Danilo Gallinari injury, it’s about this team not playing with the effort and precision they did earlier in the season. Golden State started the second half on a 23-5 run, pulled away and never looked back. Stephen Curry had 36 and was a flat out stud.

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.