It’s pretty much what you’d expect: Hawks cruise past Bobcats

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The Hawks are hot. They have won 5 out of 6 and if you want to look a little farther back 11 out of their last 13.

Then you can look at their schedule and say they did it against weaker teams (the lost to the Heat this week). I’d say so what? At the end of the day you have to beat the teams when you play them on the schedule and the Hawks have done that.

They did it again Thursday night in the one non-national game, thrashing the Charlotte Bobcats 113-90. It was pretty much the game we expected it to be.

The Hawks are 14-6 and, while it is far too early to put weight on such things, sit as the current three seed in the East. The reason is defense — Atlanta is the fifth best in NBA this season coming into the game and in the first half they showed the Bobcats why, holding them to 35.9 percent shooting and just 3-of-11 from three. Gerald Henderson gave Charlotte a solid 9 points, but Byron Mullens was 0-7 in the first half.

On the other end the Hawks did what they wanted — they shot 59.5 percent overall and were 9-of-16 from three. Devin Harris came in off the bench and attacked, getting 16 in the first half on 6-of-7 shooting (he finished with 20), Josh Smith had 12 at the break (he finished with 16) and even hit one of his threes.

It was a 17-point game at the half, 60-43.

Hawks sealed this thing by going on a run to start the third quarter, taking the lead up to 28. Even when the Bobcats made a 10-0 run in the third it didn’t matter. The Hawks bench scored 56 points, led by Ivan Johnson who had 16 points and a game-high eight rebounds, as the Hawks cruised.

The Bobcats show a lot of signs of a young team — they do not communicate well on defensive switches at all. They didn’t get back in transition consistently.

A veteran team playing at all focused, like the Hawks, blow those things up. And they did.

Which is pretty much what we all expected in this game.

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.