Hall of Fame Celtics player, Lakers coach Bill Sharman dies at age 87

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Bill Sharman’s introduction of the morning shootaround revolutionized basketball. After the Lakers on (1972) every team in the league followed suit. The result was come game time players were sharper and teams were better prepared. Bill brought a new sense of discipline and organization to the NBA that significantly upgraded the quality of play.
Phil Jackson talking about Bill Sharman, via Laker Glory.

Bill Sharman is in the basketball Hall of Fame because of a legendary playing career with the Celtic where he won four titles and was seven-time All NBA; but also a coaching career that revolutionized the game.

Sharman has passed away at the age of 87, something first reported by the Los Angeles Times and since confirmed by PBT. He had suffered a stroke last year and died at his home in Redondo Beach, his wife told the paper.

He was born in Abilene, Texas but spent his formative years in the Los Angeles area, where he eventually went to college at USC (after a couple of years in the Navy). After college he was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers and played five years of professional baseball (almost all of it in the minors) but he excelled at basketball. (He played both for a few seasons.)

As one of the Celtics on their legendary 1950s teams, he was an eight-time All-Star who was known as one of the best shooters of his era and a feisty player. He averaged more than 21 points a game his final five seasons with the Celtics.

As a coach he lifted the Los Angeles Lakers to their first ever title in 1972, getting a team with Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain over the hump. He was revolutionary as a coach, inventing both the morning shootaround and breaking down games on film (only football coaches did that at the time). He also pushed players on conditioning and diet unlike others in that era.

Our thoughts go out to his wife and family.

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.