Rockets Royce White skips game, practice, to be sent to D-League

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UPDATE 10:19 pm: Royce White took to twitter to answer critics and defend himself on Tuesday night. He said first hat the flight to Detroit the Rockets had to take was not the issue.

The Rockets feel they have been accommodating. This is not a situation with easy, simple answers.

7: 14 pm: Royce White — the Rockets first-round draft pick who has been battling an anxiety disorder — has been away from the team for several days now, reports the Houston Chronicle.

No reason for the absence has been given.

The Rockets are planning to send White (along with Scott Machado and Donatas Motiejunas) to the D-League’s Rio Grande team. However, as of right now White is not with the Rockets. He was not at the game Monday night (he has been on the inactive list for most games this season) but his absence seems to be longer than that, Chronicle writer Jonathan Feigan reports.

Marcus Morris, asked if he had spoken with White about his experience in the D-League last year, said White had not been at practice for at least three days.

Tuesday night, Rockets GM Daryl Morey released a statement:

“Royce is not available right now. We are committed to his long term success and we will continue to support him now and going forward.”

Well, that is vague. More ominous is what Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said to Feigan, including that there were “internal repercussions” for White’s absences.

White is a very talented player and the Rockets given him room to set up his own travel arrangements (he was going to pay for a bus to drive him to games — part of White’s anxiety disorder includes a fear of flying. The heavy travel and broken routines of an NBA lifestyle (especially on the road) will be White to deal with due to his disorder.

To be clear, we don’t know if White’s absence is related to the disorder. We don’t really know much of anything. Like the Rockets, we’re still hopeful this can all still work out.

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

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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.