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March Madness weekend roundup: Morris v. Morris; Julian Wright double-doubles with 17 and 15
- One game after picking up his first “did not play - coach’s decision” of the season, Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris put together a solid 10-point, six-rebound night against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday. Markieff scored in double-figures for the first time in a month and added an assist, three steals and a block in 16 minutes as the Suns edged out the Clippers, 91-87 (full stats here). But the Markieff’s biggest achievement of the night was a Blake Griffin-esque dunk on... Blake Griffin:
The next day, Markieff picked up five fouls and scored just four points with one rebound, two assists and a block in 12 minutes in a 109-101 Suns win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday (full stats here). Against brother Marcus’ Houston Rockets on Sunday, Markieff played 17 minutes and had four points, four rebounds, an assist, a block and a drawn charge. Although he didn’t match up consistently with his twin brother, Markieff and Phoenix got the best of Marcus and Houston as the Suns won, 99-86 (full stats here).
After the game, Keef talked to reporters about playing opposite his brother for the first time:
- Injuries, trades and buyouts over the past week have opened up a sliver of playing time for the Houston Rockets’ Marcus Morris. Starting with an ugly, scoreless eight-minute stint last Wednesday, Marcus has now played significant minutes in three straight games. He played 16 minutes on Saturday as starter and fellow rookie Chandler Parsons sat out, scoring four points (career-high!) with one rebound. The Rockets lost 95-91 to the Los Angeles Clippers, and Marcus made 1 of 3 shots, missing two-three point attempts and sinking 2 of 2 free throws (full stats here). On Sunday, with Parsons back, Marcus faced off with twin brother Markieff’s Phoenix Suns and played 11 minutes. He scored two points, again on 1-for-3 shooting, and snagged a steal in a 99-86 loss to the Suns (full stats here).
After the game, Marcus told the Houston Chronicle:
“I’m still a basketball player,” he said. “I came from a great school (Kansas), so at the end of the day, I still know the game. I came out to get used to it, not jack up a bunch of shots to get comfortable.
“It felt good. I had a chance to get out there, run up and down a little bit, defend a little bit. I could have jumped on the glass a little more, but I helped as far as the smaller aspects of boxing out, not letting guys run in there and grab boards.
“ I was just happy to get out there, do the small things and just play.”
Marcus Morris once again saw minutes with the team playing short-handed. He hit a nice turnaround on the baseline, but overall, like the previous night, didn’t do much offensively. He played pretty well defensively, however, which was encouraging as the issue of whether he could keep pace with perimeter players was the primary concern. He was able to stay in front of Jared Dudley and for the most part, Michael Redd. While Redd did score on a foul, it’s not an issue – he’s a shooting guard; not even a small forward. Some observations or I guess, affirmations, on Morris – he doesn’t have that athletic explosion. No burst. We knew this though. A lot of rookies are able to come in and impress and earn more playing time just by scrapping, without the ball. I think back to Carl Landry’s rookie year when he came in and dunked back every offensive board in sight, earning himself a spot in the rotation. Morris can’t do that because he doesn’t have the athleticism to get those loose balls. For him to be effective, he will need the ball, and therein lies the problem because as a rookie, he isn’t going to get the ball. Another example: Chandler Parsons and Patterson earned their spots by playing smart defense and picking their spots offensively. Marcus Morris’ value is as a one-on-one offensive player. See now why they kept him in the D-League? The few times he was able to pin his man down in the post, he looked pretty good. So calm down on Morris – it’s too soon to worry.
- Kirk Hinrich (Atlanta Hawks) stuck in the starting lineup over the weekend as the Hawks won games against the Washington Wizards, on Friday, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, on Sunday. Hinrich put up five points, two rebounds, five assists and a block in the 102-88 win against the Wizards, and he tallied 14 points, three rebounds, an assist and a block in a 103-87 victory vs. the Cavs.
It looks like Hinrich, who played 41 and 37 minutes in his most recent games after surviving the NBA trade deadline, might start for the remainder of the season. Here’s what Hawks coach Larry Drew had to say, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“With both Jeff (Teague) and Kirk in the backcourt it gives us some versatility at the guard spot.
“With Kirk in the lineup, especially at the very beginning, he really gets after it. It just makes us much more aggressive and gives us another guy with the ability to break you down off the dribble. It gives us another guy who can catch and shoot. So far it has worked out.”
And with plays like this, why not?
- Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) couldn’t quite will his team to a victory this weekend, despite scoring 19 points against the Sacramento Kings and 22 against the Denver Nuggets. The Kings blew out the Celtics on Friday, 120-95, as Pierce, who was dealing with a “mild ankle sprain,” shot just 5-for-15 from the field and went 0-for-5 from three. He salvaged a decent line with a 9-for-9 effort at the foul line and chipped in three rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes (full stats here). On Saturday vs. the Nuggets, Pierce rediscovered his three-point shot, going 3-for-7 from downtown. His 22 points came off of 8-for-17 shooting and 3 of 3 free throws. He also added three rebounds, a block and three assists to zero turnovers in 31 minutes before he fouled out, and the Celtics lost, 98-91 (full stats here).
- Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) did a little bit of everything for the Heat in two weekend wins. On Friday, in an 84-78 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, Chalmers scored 10 points (4-for-6 overall, 2-for-3 threes) with four rebounds and four assists to three turnovers in 32 minutes (full stats here). One of those threes came on a basket with just 1.5 seconds left in the first half. On Sunday, in a 91-81 win over the Orlando Magic, Chalmers had seven points on 3-of-8 shooting (1-of-3 from three), with five rebounds, two steals, one block and four assists to two turnovers in 36 minutes (full stats here).
Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors) played his second most minutes of the season on Friday in a 120-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. In 35 minutes, Rush scored 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting (2-for-5 on threes, 2-for-2 at the foul line) and added seven rebounds and four assists (full stats here). A day later on Saturday, Rush played a more normal 22 minutes and scored four points — all on free throws — with three rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block as the Warriors lost, 99-92 to the Utah Jazz (full stats here).
Drew Gooden (Milwaukee Bucks) followed up his second-career triple-double on Wednesday with a 16-point, 11-rebound game in just 28 minutes on Friday. The Bucks rolled over the Golden State Warriors, 120-98 (full stats here). Playing just three quarters, Gooden made 6 of 14 shots, 4 of 4 free throws and added four assists— his fifth game in a row with at least four dimes. He was also named the Eastern Conference player of the week after averaging 18 points, 9.7 rebounds and 8.0 assists in his last three games — all Bucks wins.
Nick Collison (Oklahoma City Thunder) put up six points, six rebounds and two assists on Thursday as the Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets, 103-90 (full stats here). On Friday, Collison had just two points and five rebounds in a 114-105 loss to the San Antonio Spurs (stats), before following that up with seven points, two rebounds on Sunday as OKC took down the Portland Trailblazers, 111-95 (stats).
Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder) played one minute and 20 seconds total in OKC’s last three games. Aldrich saw 55 seconds in a 103-90 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday and 25 seconds against the Portland Trailblazers in a 111-95 victory on Sunday. He did not play (coach’s decision) on Friday as the Thunder lost, 114-105 to the San Antonio Spurs.
After seeing consistent double-digit minutes and setting a new career high in points at the beginning of March, New Orleans Hornets swingman Xavier Henry’s minutes and production have taken a nose-dive during the past week. So it wasn’t a surprise to see the second-year pro sent down to the NBA D-League over the weekend. Henry’s assignment to the Iowa Energy — a planned one-game stint “to allow him to get some additional playing time while the Hornets are on a short break,” according to Hornets247.com — followed a string of five games where he scored a total of 10 points, including two scoreless outings last Wednesday and Thursday and a four-point, two rebound effort on Saturday. On Sunday, in Henry’s first game in the NBADL, he scored 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting (3-of-5 free throws, zero threes) with a rebound, an assist and two steals in 19 minutes (full stats here).
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) did not play in a pair of games over the weekend (coach’s decisions). The Grizzlies lost on Friday, 114-110 in overtime to the Toronto Raptors, and won on Sunday, 97-92 against the Washington Wizards. Selby has played just 16 minutes total in four NBA games since Feb. 5.
Julian Wright (NBA D-League - Austin Toros) pieced together a strong double-double on Sunday, with 17 points and 15 rebounds in a 114-87 victory. Wright made 8 of 14 shots and chipped in four assists, two steals and a block in 32 minutes (full stats here). On Friday, in a 119-112 win, Wright also registered a double-double: 10 points and 12 rebounds. He had three assists, a block and six offensive boards in 29 minutes in that game (full stats here).
Brady Morningstar (NBA D-League - Tulsa 66ers) had a pair of relatively quiet games over the weekend for the 66ers. Morningstar went scoreless on two attempts on Friday in a 106-97 win (full stats here). He added two rebounds and two turnovers in 15 minutes. On Saturday, Morningstar scored two points and had two rebounds, two steals, four assists and zero turnovers in 19 minutes, as Tulsa won, 97-88 (full stats here).
Jayhawks in upcoming NBA games
6:30 p.m., Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics vs. Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks
9:30 p.m., Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves
6:30 p.m., NBATV, Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns
7 p.m., Marcus Morris and the Houston Rockets vs. the Los Angeles Lakers
8 p.m., Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the Utah Jazz
9 p.m., Josh Selby and the Memphis Grizzlies vs. the Sacramento Kings
9 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Portland Trailblazers