Lamar Odom says he won’t have any emotions when facing his former team (the Mavericks)

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The Lakers traded Lamar Odom to the Mavericks before last season began, but after Odom had just finished his best all-around year in 12 NBA seasons.

Odom took home the Sixth Man of the Year trophy in 2011, and yet L.A. had no problem dealing him to a Western Conference rival in exchange for nothing more than salary cap space at the time, although the trade exception the Lakers received in the deal was used in helping them acquire Steve Nash.

It turns out that the Lakers knew what the Mavericks found out in Odom’s short time with them, which was the fact that Odom had mentally checked out from basketball after dealing with some personal and emotional issues before the lockout-shortened season began.

Things ended in Dallas with Odom and the team parting ways before the season ended, one which was tumultuous, to say the least. Now, with Odom set to face his former team for the first time on Wednesday, he’s not exactly feeling sentimentally about the matchup.

From Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

When asked after practice whether he had any emotions about playing Dallas, Odom said, “Naw.”

Why?

“It was a blur, man,” Odom replied. “I wasn’t there either, like mentally.”

“The people are nice,” Odom said of Dallas. “Great fans.

“Sometimes we make pit stops in some places. I remember the people and the city. Basketball just wasn’t there for me at that time.”

Odom said he even doesn’t have any hard feelings toward Dallas owner Mark Cuban, who called out Odom several times before sending the forward home. “I respect everybody over there,” Odom said.

Odom’s comments are perfect, because he has no reason to be upset with a Dallas organization that showed nothing but patience in dealing with him. He admits he wasn’t in a position mentally to play basketball last season, so slamming the Mavericks for the way things ended there simply wouldn’t make any sense.

It’s doubtful that Cuban or Rick Carlisle feel the same way about Odom, given the way things went down. But he’ll be nothing more than afterthought for the Mavericks on Wednesday when they head into Los Angeles to face the Clippers.

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.

Video Breakdown: Rockets launch Eric Gordon from 3-point range against Thunder in Game 4

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The Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, 113-109, and now the series heads back to Texas with the Rockets in the lead, 3-1.

Houston and OKC played a weird game, with Nene scoring 28 points off the bench for the Rockets and serious mischief in the final moments. The end of the game included a purposely missed free throw by Steven Adams that allowed Russell Westbrook to grab a quick 3-pointer and a missed call when James Harden shoved Alex Abrines out of the way like an NFL tackle.

While the Rockets didn’t shoot a stellar percentage from 3-point range — just 31.5 percent — they still knocked down 11 buckets from deep. Part of that action was a play run for Sixth Man of the Year candidate Eric Gordon that included a little semi-Pistol action, and a stagger screen that allowed Gordon to work his way free.

I picked this play to go over this week because it exemplifies just how committed to the 3-point shot the Rockets are. Plus, Gordon ran around three screens just to get this one bucket, which is always fun to see.

Watch the full video breakdown above.

Jimmy Butler on Marcus Smart dustup: ‘He’s not about that life. So, he’s calming down’

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Marcus Smart and Jimmy Butler had to be separated during the Celtics’ Game 4 win over the Bulls after Smart pushed Butler, who was hounding him defensively in the backcourt.

Butler:

As far as the Marcus Smart situation goes, he’s a great actor. Acting tough, that’s what he does. But I don’t think he’s about that, and I’m the wrong guy to get in my face. So, he needs to take it somewhere else because I’m not the one for that.

Was that their first run-in? Butler:

That’s the first time. Last time, too. We’re not going to sit here and get in each other’s faces like that. Like I said, he’s not about that life. So, he’s calming down.

The Bulls, who’ve lost two straight to allow Boston to tie the series 2-2, is angling for any edge. Butler tried to intimidate Smart on the court, and the Chicago wing might actually rattle the too easily shakable Smart with his postgame comments.

The irony: Some might say Butler, who did come up hard, lost touch with his roots as he entered stardom. I don’t buy that, at least not majorly.

But even if both – or neither – are posturing to any degree, this will be a matchup to watch in Game 5.

Remembering former NBA official Jess Kersey, who passed away Saturday

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Jess Kersey, who officiated more than 2,200 NBA games, including being part of 19 NBA Finals, passed away over the weekend, losing his battle with cancer at age 76.

Kersey was a well-respected official who feared nothing. Maybe the most remembered image of Kersey is him trying to break up a fight between Mitch Kupchak and Hakeem Olajuwon, essentially trying to tackle Olajuwon with his head in Olajuwon’s chest and his arms wrapped around him. Kersey got in the middle of everything if that was what was required.

Our thoughts go out to the Kersey family for their loss.