Monday night and-1 links: See hoop players pictures tweeted from London

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A late-night version of our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like cowboys love oversized belt buckles.

Pixable has a really cool site put together where you can see what hoop players — NBA guys and the USA women — are taking pictures of and tweeting, mostly from London. Really fun thing to flip through.

• Stephen Jackson has promised to keep on rapping “until I can’t talk no more.”

Fantastic breakdown from Zach Lowe at Sports Illustrated of how teams will try to exploit Team USA’s weaknesses.

One Cavaliers beat writer is convinced Anderson Varejao will be traded before the deadline. I think we all kind of expect that to happen, but then again we all expected it before.

• We’re all really, really, really sick of the Dwight Howard saga. But here is a good argument from my man Brian Kamenetzky on why Lakers fans should hang in there and wait for this to play out and not give up on it.

• I flipped on some Los Angeles sports talk radio this afternoon and they were still talking Dwight to the Lakers. It is still THE topic in Los Angeles.

• Plans for a new NBA-ready arena in Seattle took a step forward Monday with a vote to approve an amended proposal from developer Chris Hanson — but there is going to be a lot more amending if he is going to get this deal done. Eight of nine Seattle City Council members signed a letter saying wanted tax money generated by the new arena to pay for improved transportation in the area where the arena would be built, money before targeted to pay off the bonds to build the arena. Transportation in the area of the arena — which is also where Safeco Field and the Port of Seattle are located — has been a concern.

• Tyson Chandler is still miffed coaches voted him on the second team NBA All-Defensive team, even in the year he won Defensive Player of the Year.

• Marc Gasol’s sore shoulder is not as serious as some would leave you to believe.

• We told you recently in another And-1 column that the NBA’s throwback jerseys next season will be from the 1990s. Here is a sneak peek at some of the looks.

Breaking down the Golden State Warriors schedule. If they can keep their heads above water early the schedule sets up for them to make a late run into a playoff spot.

• Charlie Villanueva says he is motivated by the scorn heaped on him by Pistons fans and plans to come back healthy and motivated next year. That’s great. But Pistons’ fans are pretty much going to go Missouri on this — “show me.” The Pistons are apparently pleased with his off-season conditioning. That’s a start.

• Omri Casspi says his knee is not 100 percent healthy yet but he hopes to be back there by the start of training camp.

• In case you missed it, the Sixers formally signed guard Royal Ivey to a deal, he will back up Jrue Holiday.

• Alonzo Gee may accept the qualifying offer the Cavaliers have out on the table for him.

• Former NBA guard (most recently with Toronto) Sonny Weems has signed to play next season with European power CSKA Moscow.

• French forward and former NBA player Pops Mensah-Bonsu has reached a deal to play with Maccabi Tel Aviv next season.

MVP James Harden, dominant Rockets show up in second half, crush Timberwolves

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We had to wait three-and-a-half games for it.

We had seen James Harden play like an MVP all season. We had seen the Rockets bury threes at a record rate all season. We had seen Houston’s switching defense impress all season (sixth best in the NBA). We had seen Houston rack up 65 wins and make it look easy.

Then we got to the playoffs and the Rockets couldn’t put it all together at once. Harden struggled after Game 1, including going 0-of-7 in the first quarter Monday night. The defense was inconsistent and the threes were not falling. All of it let the Timberwolves hang around in the series — down 2-1 — and the same in Game 4, down just a point at halftime.

Then the Harden and Rockets we all expected showed up.

Houston put up 50 points in the third quarter alone, shooting 61 percent overall and 9-of-13 from three, plus they got to the line 13 times and made every shot. The Rockets opened the second half on an 11-0 run that extended all the way to 25-4, with almost all of the damage from Harden, who had 22 in the quarter.

The Rockets pulled away and cruised from there to an easy 119-100 win.

“We hit the switch, the switch we’ve been trying to hit since the beginning of the playoffs on both ends of the floor,” Harden said postgame. “It’s pretty scary what we’re capable of when defensively we’re locked in like that, and offensively we got rolling.”

Houston now leads the series 3-1 and can close it out at home in Game 5 Wednesday night.

In the first half this looked nothing like something that would end with a comfortable Rockets win. Houston struggled at the start of Game 4, opening 0-of-5 in the paint, including Harden missing an open layup. As a team, the Rockets started the game 4-of-16 from three, and a lot of those were uncontested looks. The Rockets play a lot of isolation, but even for them the ball seemed to stick in the first half. If not for Trevor Ariza knocking down three from beyond the arc, the Timberwolves might have been able to pull away.

The fact they didn’t was a blown opportunity for the Timberwolves, something they just can’t do in this series. It was a one-point Rockets lead, 50-49, at the half.

Minnesota had some moments on offense in the game, usually when attacking quickly off the Rockets switch. Derrick Rose had some moments and finished the game with 17 points. Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points and 15 rebounds, Jimmy Butler had 19 points on 17 shots.

But that was no match for the Rockets when they flipped the switch.

It was a barrage of threes that we have waited for all season, and it all started with Harden and Chris Paul, they had all of the first 15 points of the second half for Houston. Harden finished with 36 points and hit 5-of-11 from three. CP3 had 25 points and six assists, Eric Gordon finally woke up in this series with 18, and Ariza finished with 15.

Minnesota is a talented team, but they are learning fast what a contender can do — even not at their peak the Rockets had taken two of the first three in the series, and when they did flip the switch it was another level. A level the Timberwolves want to get to, there are just some rough lessons along the road to getting there.

James Harden puts on show to start second half vs. Timberwolves

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James Harden started Game 4 0-of-7 from the floor, including missing a lay-up. It was an extension of Game 3, and it let the Timberwolves hang around for a half despite their own offensive woes.

Then in the second half the MVP Harden showed up.

Houston started the second half on an 11-0 run that extended all the way to 25-4, and a lot of it was Harden (with a little help from Chris Paul). Harden had 22 points in the third (with 4:30 left in the quarter). After a couple rough games the Timberwolves were going under the pick when Harden had the ball, and suddenly he made them pay.

Or, he was just stepping back.

With all the buckets the Rockets turned a close game into a 25 point lead.

Tyronn Lue doesn’t hold back with retort to heckling Pacers’ fan

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It’s a part of the NBA experience that most fans don’t get to hear — some fans courtside heckling opposing players and coaches, and those guys occasionally firing back. We only tend to hear about it when things cross a line.

Sometimes the interactions are just funny, such as this one passed along by J. Michael of the Indy Star.

Well played, Lue.

Although is Cleveland really a city at the forefront of fashion? Well, I suppose if you went to college in Nebraska…

Report: Pelicans picked up Alvin Gentry’s option for next season before sweep

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Last summer the buzz was all over the league: Pelicans GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry were given a “playoffs or bust” mandate by management. If the Pelicans were not in the postseason — and just barely getting in and then blown out in the first round might be good enough — there was going to be a housecleaning.

The Pelicans made the playoffs as the six seed with 48 wins despite losing DeMarcus Cousins to a torn Achilles midway through the season.

That alone was good enough to get Gentry another season in New Orleans, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

As noted, this happened before the Pelicans swept the Trail Blazers out of the first round and into a summer of re-evaluation. This option season is the last of Gentry’s original deal with the Pelicans.

Gentry has the Pelicans playing fast, using the elite defense of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday to get stops, and right now Davis is leading an offense that is just getting it done, with guys such as Nikola Mirotic stepping up. Gentry has earned another year, and a shot to integrate Cousins into this style and level of play, to see where that could take New Orleans next season.

It will be interesting to see if Demps can add more shooting and versatility with a capped out roster.