Thursday And-1 links: Derrick Rose’s first game may be Oct. 5 vs. Pacers

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Here is 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 I love bullet points more than I love a good Phó (and I do love a good Phó)….

• When is Derrick Rose likely to first put on a Bulls uniform in a game again? Probably a preseason game Oct. 5 at Indiana. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has said he will play Rose the regular amount of preseason minutes, what the other starters will get.

Is this the cup that started the infamous Malice in the Palace brawl? There is no conclusive evidence, but when has that ever stopped a good Internet rumor.

Over at Forum Blue and Gold there is a fantastic look at shot distance and the impact on points per possession. Looking at all the more than 200,000 shots taken in the NBA this year, the first conclusion is what analytics guys have argued for while now — the most efficient shots are near the rim or from three. But it’s not that simple. Which five teams combined for taking the highest percentage of their shots inside eight feet or from three? The Rockets, Nuggets, Pistons, Lakers and Kings. While the first two on that list had good offenses, the point is simply taking smart shots is not the same as making shots, or winning. Go read the entire post, it is an interesting look at shooting in the league.

• Speaking of interesting breakdowns… the Bucks have signed their first round pick Giannis Antetokounmpo. Here is Bucks coach Larry Drew talking about how the team found him and what they saw in him.

• The NBA has teamed up with the Department of Defense to help get some of our men and women on military bases, plus their families, in better shape.

• The Celtics decided against picking up Shavlik Randolph’s $1.1 million team option for next season. Wisely.

• The Pelicans have signed rookie center Jeff Withey.

• The DeJuan Blair to the Mavericks signing is official.

• Spurs reserve guard Nando De Colo suffered what appears to be a minor injury (no details on what kind) while in training with the French national team (Project Spurs found this French media report). We say minor because he is still expected to play in an exhibition game Friday with the team.

• Tony Allen hosts a youth camp, but when he steps on the court with 10 and 12 year olds, don’t expect him to go easy on them — he was posting them up on offense, shutting them down then trash talking on defense.

• Delonte West is still hoping his phone will ring.

• Shawn Kemp almost missed a team flight in Cleveland and he blamed his dog sleeping in front of his car for it.

• Bobby Brown has reached a deal to play in China next season.

• Former Clipper DaJuan Summers has agreed to play for BC Budivelnyk in Ukraine next season.

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.