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2014-15 season outlook: Marcus and Markieff Morris

Hunker down, get hydrated and tell your loved ones you will see them next spring.

Hopefully that’s not your mindset, but people should be warned: The at times seemingly never-ending NBA regular season is at hand.

The first handful of games tipped off Tuesday, marking the start of the 82-game grind.

Thankfully for us, all we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy. To make sure you’re fully prepared for the 2014-15 campaign, we’ll be rolling out a season outlook for each former Kansas University player who currently calls The Association home.

Marcus and Markieff Morris — Phoenix Suns

Marcus: 6-foot-9 Small forward | Fourth season

Markieff: 6-foot-10 Power forward | Fourth season

Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris, left, congratulates his twin brother, Markieff, after he scored against the Sacramento Kings during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, April 16, 2014. The Suns won 104-99.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris, left, congratulates his twin brother, Markieff, after he scored against the Sacramento Kings during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, April 16, 2014. The Suns won 104-99.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Marcus 2013-14 numbers: 82 games | 22.0 minutes | 9.7 points | 3.9 rebounds | 44.2 FG% | 38.1 3-pt% | 76.1 FT%

Markieff 2013-14 numbers: 81 games | 26.6 minutes | 13.8 points | 6.0 rebounds | 48.6 FG% | 31.5 3-pt% | 79.2 FT%

When twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris left KU for the NBA in 2011, it seemed unlikely they would ever be able to call each other teammates again.

But now it looks like they could spend the prime of their careers — if not longer — together. Phoenix signed the Morris bros. to four-year contract extensions just before the start of training camp, meaning they will (barring a trade of one or both of them) share the same Suns locker room through at least the end of the 2018-19 season.

At the press conference announcing their new deals, the Philadelphia natives showed their excitement about spending the foreseeable future in the desert.

Said Marcus: “From the day I got traded here, it just felt like it was right.”

Markieff said neither of them were even thinking about contracts when Phoenix approached them about locking them up.

“We were just getting ready for the season. It kind of hit us and came out of nowhere, actually,” Markieff added.

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) shoots over Flamengo forward Walter Herrmann (1) of Argentina, in the second quarter during an NBA preseason basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) shoots over Flamengo forward Walter Herrmann (1) of Argentina, in the second quarter during an NBA preseason basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

After making a run at the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season, Markieff (13.8 points, 6.0 rebounds in his third year) won’t be eligible for that hardware this time around. Coach Jeff Hornacek wisely moved the big man into the starting five, where Markieff can play a stretch-power forward or even a stretch-center spot, knocking down jumpers when Phoenix’s trio of explosive guards — Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas — attack the paint.

That means Markieff could put himself in the hunt for another award: Most Improved Player. More minutes and better stats are ahead for him.

Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris, top, grabs a rebound away from Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris, top, grabs a rebound away from Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Then again, maybe he’ll have to fight off Marcus for that honor, because he could end up as a starter for the Suns, too.

Marcus averaged 9.7 points and 3.9 rebounds last season in 4.6 fewer minutes a game than his twin brother last season. But Marcus started five games for Phoenix in the preseason, he and Markieff work extremely well as a tandem, and his only competition for minutes at small forward comes from P.J. Tucker, and rookie T.J. Warren. The one player who could eat away at his minutes is two-guard Gerald Green, because Phoenix figures to fly up and down the floor and use smaller lineups.

So what do we expect out of The Morrii for the 2014-15 season?

Career numbers from each of them, for one thing. The twins figure to have even more confidence after inking those new deals and they mesh well with Phoenix’s style/strengths.

The Suns won 48 games last season and missed the playoffs. That’s crazy. That’s also life in the Western Conference. You could easily argue that all eight teams who finished ahead of Phoenix last year — San Antonio, Oklahoma City, L.A. Clippers, Houston, Portland, Golden State, Memphis and Dallas — are capable of doing so again.

But if the Morris twins and the rest of the Suns stay healthy and one of those other teams suffers some kind of blow, there is at least one playoff berth for the taking. Or Phoenix just keeps getting better and supplants Memphis or Dallas. You never know.


’Hawks in the NBA 2014-15 season outlooks:

• Cole Aldrich — Knicks

Darrell Arthur — Nuggets

Tarik Black — Rockets

Mario Chalmers — Heat

Nick Collison — Thunder

Joel Embiid — 76ers

Drew Gooden — Wizards

Xavier Henry — Lakers

Kirk Hinrich — Bulls

Ben McLemore — Kings


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Morris twins key players in Suns’ turnaround

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) tries to get off a shot over San Antonio Spurs' Matt Bonner (15) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) tries to get off a shot over San Antonio Spurs' Matt Bonner (15) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In a perfect NBA world, the powers that be would allow the top 16 teams in the league to duke it out in the playoffs to decide the championship.

Unfortunately for the fans, that postseason utopia doesn't exist. If it did, Phoenix, which went 48-34 in the 2013-14 regular season, would have easily made the playoffs. Instead, the Suns, who play in the deeper Western Conference, have to watch the action on TV with the rest of us.

When the season ended prematurely for Phoenix, Matt Petersen of Suns.com began offering a series of season reviews on each of the franchise's players.

A bench star in the Suns' entertaining campaign, Markieff Morris emerged as a legit NBA player in his third year — 13.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 48.6% FGs, 31.5% 3s in 26.6 minutes.

As far as the 24-year-old power forward's highlight of the year, according to the Suns' site, that came in November, against the back-to-back NBA champion Miami Heat. Morris turned Chris "Birdman" Andersen into a YouTube victim after making on-ball defender Rashard Lewis look even worse.

First-year Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said Morris comes off the bench and makes the offense flow smoothly.

“We need Markieff’s energy, scoring in the post on guys. It keeps us from shooting nothing but jump shots. The other guys can post up some, but consistently, we can go to him five, six, seven times and then they have to start figuring out what to do with him. He kicks it out and we get good stuff. He allows us to play that inside-out game that not a lot of our other guys give us.”

According to the Bright Side of the Sun blog, Morris, who led the league with 11 double-doubles off the bench, earned an A on his season report card.


Marcus an important Suns backup, too

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) dunks as teammate Ish Smith (3) pumps his fist as the Indiana Pacers defense of Paul George (24), Roy Hibbert (55), David West (21) and Lance Stephenson look around during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Pacers 124-100. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) dunks as teammate Ish Smith (3) pumps his fist as the Indiana Pacers defense of Paul George (24), Roy Hibbert (55), David West (21) and Lance Stephenson look around during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Pacers 124-100. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Markieff wasn't the only Morris twin helping Phoenix reverse its fortunes this season. Marcus played nearly just as big a role, also off the Suns' bench.

In his first full season playing alongside Markieff in the NBA (Marcus began his career in Houston), he averaged 9.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 22.0 minutes. Marcus shot 44.2% from the floor and 38.1% from 3-point land.

Suns.com's Petersen deemed the following dunk — on San Antonio's Aron Baynes — the play of the year for Marcus.

But Marcus proved just as deadly spotting up behind the 3-point line. He hit 99 from deep (a career high for the third-year forward) on 260 tries. Hornacek said Marcus needed that weapon in his repertoire.

“He had that [midrange ability] in college. He’s developed the outside game, the deep three, since he’s been in the pros. That’s kind of his strength.”


Aldrich spent most of season at end of bench

New York Knicks' Cole Aldrich plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Minneapolis. The Knicks won 118-106. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

New York Knicks' Cole Aldrich plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Minneapolis. The Knicks won 118-106. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Drafted in 2010, Cole Aldrich has yet to produce a career-changing season to put him on the NBA map.

Since his arrival in the league, the 6-11 center never has averaged more than 11.7 minutes with a team in a season (and that came in 15 games for Sacramento after a mid-season trade), nor more than 3.3 points (also in 15-game Sactown stint).

In 2013-14, with New York, Aldrich averaged 7.2 minutes, 2.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in 46 games.

Charlie Widdoes took a different kind of look at Aldrich's fourth year for the Knicks' website. Projected over 36 minutes, Aldrich would have averaged a double-double, with 10 points and 14.1 rebounds.

And, as Widdoes points out, Aldrich set a career high with 16 rebounds and scored 13 points in the Knicks' season finale, when he played 40 minutes.

Said Aldrich:

"The biggest thing is staying ready. You never know when your name's going to be called."

He'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Aldrich's former coach in NYC, Mike Woodson, who was fired after the season, praised the still young big man for his work.

"He's earned the right to be on somebody's ball club."


Tweetworthy

• Tuesday was a historic day in the NBA, with commissioner Adam Silver issuing a lifetime ban to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling after he made racist comments in a taped conversation.

Miami guard Mario Chalmers, like a number of players around the league, complimented the new commish's handling of the situation via Twitter.

None by Mario Chalmers

• Elsewhere, it looks like Ben McLemore is fully embracing the joys of the offseason.

None by Ben McLemore


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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A ringing endorsement for Ben McLemore

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) during an NBA basketball game between the Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, in Orlando, Fla. The Kings won 105-100. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) during an NBA basketball game between the Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, in Orlando, Fla. The Kings won 105-100. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

Through the first 31 games of his NBA career, Sacramento’s Ben McLemore has made a name for himself with highlight-reel dunks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEc5TrmWZWI

But coming out of Kansas, most of the attention was on McLemore’s smooth jump shot. McLemore wowed with his textbook release and clutch shots, and during his one-and-done year, he shot 42 percent (73 of 174) from beyond the arc.

As the NBA draft approached, scouts and journalists never missed an opportunity to compare McLemore to the league’s all-time leader in three-pointers, Ray Allen. McLemore embraced the narrative, too. From the Orlando Sentinel, days before the draft:

"I definitely can compare myself to Ray Allen, especially with the shooting ability," McLemore said. "I don't know about the athleticism anymore. But I definitely can say I compare myself with him a lot as far as getting myself open, coming off screens and little things like that."

Miami Heat's Ray Allen reacts after making a 3--pointer to put the Heat ahead in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, in Miami. The Heat won 97-94. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami Heat's Ray Allen reacts after making a 3--pointer to put the Heat ahead in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, in Miami. The Heat won 97-94. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

So far, McLemore hasn’t come close to matching the pre-draft expectations and is shooting just 34 percent (41 of 120) from three. But the lofty comparisons to Allen persist, and Kings blog CowbellKingdom.com recently went to the future Hall of Famer for the definitive answer on McLemore:

He’s a jump shooter, first and foremost. He looks like, I haven’t seen him a lot, but every shot he takes, it seems like he duplicates the first one to the next one to the one after that. He stays consistent in how he puts the ball in the air. He has great athleticism, and he uses it on his jump shot and most players now in the NBA don’t do that.

Allen — who probably resisted the urge to simply say “He Got Game” — also told CowbellKingdom that he’s impressed by 20-year-old McLemore’s fundamentals:

We’re creatures of habit. When you play sports a certain way, it’s hard to change who you are. So, he has great athleticism, (but) you can tell whoever taught him young kept him in great form with how he shoots the ball. It really has nothing to do with age because if you’re taught the fundamentals of the game when you’re 15, you’ll shoot the ball the right way – the way you’re supposed to be (shooting). It’s just we’re so surprised (when) we see players come to the NBA, professional players that don’t have the skill-set or the fundamentals that we know we should be seeing.

Nice of you to say, Ray. But as NBATV’s Trey Kerby pointed out, McLemore still has a ways to go:

Now, to live up to these kind words, all Ben McLemore has to do is play another 16 seasons, raise his three-point accuracy five percentage points while doing so, break all kinds of records, credibly appear in a major motion picture, shave his head right when it becomes time to shave his head, always look like he’s snarling even though he’s generally happy, and win two titles while also making one of the most clutch three-pointers in league history to save a championship season. Simple stuff.

For the full quotes from Allen on McLemore, head over to CowbellKingdom.com.


Happy birthday, Hinrich

Chicago Bulls' Kirk Hinrich during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Chicago Bulls' Kirk Hinrich during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich turned 33 years old on Thursday. To mark the occasion, Bulls blog PippenAintEasy.com compiled some of Hinrich’s best moments in red, white and black, including this dunk during his rookie season in 2004:

The ProHoopsHistory Twitter account also looked back at Hinrich’s Bulls career on Thursday:

Kirk Hinrich is 4th in total assists in 3rd in APG in the history of the Chicago Bulls. A legend in his own time


Twin talk

Phoenix broadcaster Tom Chambers recently sat down with Suns forwards Markieff and Marcus Morris. In the two-part interview, the twins talk quite a bit about family and their lifelong dream of playing together:


Highlight reel

Denver’s Darrell Arthur returned reinvigorated from a two-game injury absence, Monday against Miami:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvgzIRw8LT4

Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce wasn’t happy with his team’s effort Tuesday against San Antonio (more on that in a minute), so he took his frustration out on the rim:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrJilpIGRmI

And Portland’s Thomas Robinson, who hadn’t played in five games, showed no rust on this slo-mo slam before a return in Thursday’s game:


Quotables

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce slides out of bounds as he chases the loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce slides out of bounds as he chases the loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce on the Nets’ struggles, via ESPN.com:

It’s embarrassing. I don’t know if I’ve probably been a part of this many blowouts in one season already. But at some point, we’ve gotta have our pride. It has to come from each individual and say we’ve had enough of this. It’s extremely embarrassing.

Miami’s Mario Chalmers, likely flashing back to the 2008 NCAA tournament after getting torched by Golden State’s Stephen Curry on Thursday:

"You can't defend that. Once a player gets hot like that, you can't stop anybody like that."

On Portland's Thomas Robinson during Thursday's game against Charlotte, via Blazers media tweets:

I believe @Trobinson0 is yelling "lunch meat" every time Aldridge touches the ball against Josh McRoberts.

and ...

T Robinson on why he said "lunch meat" when LMA gets the ball. "Whatchu do with lunch meat? Eat it. He gets the ball and he eats all day."

Phoenix’s Marcus Morris on the Suns’ bench, via AZcentral.com:

“Once somebody cracks it open, you’ve got some wild stuff coming behind,” Marcus Morris said. “ … That’s what Coach (Jeff Hornacek) preaches. The more we get up, the more our percentages go higher.”

On the improvement of Marcus and Markieff Morris, from Phoenix head coach Jeff Hornacek, via CBS Sports’ Matt Moore:

"They were horrible defensively," Hornacek says. "Whether that was the system, or what. But we're putting a lot of responsibility on them to help out and to rotate and these guys are following it, and I think that's what's taking them to the next level."

On Sacramento’s Ben McLemore, via the Sacramento Bee:

“One thing I love about Ben is he is a great kid, his heart’s in the right place, he wants to do well,” said Kings coach Michael Malone. “He wants to watch film, learn and get better, he takes it very seriously and I know he’s going to get there and experience is the best teacher. What he went through (Sunday), even though it was a hard lesson for him and us, that’s going to help him (Tuesday) night and hopefully throughout the season.”


Remember to check KUsports.com every night for the latest line scores from the ‘Hawks in the NBA.

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Hawks over the holidays

We took a break for the Christmas holiday, but the NBA didn’t.

Here’s what you may have missed:


The highlights

Miami’s Mario Chalmers got fancy with a pass to LeBron James on Friday.

The Lakers’ Xavier Henry drew an and-one against Miami on Christmas Day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmpM6nd_jmk

Oklahoma City’s Nick Collison set up his teammates against the Knicks on Christmas Day

Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce showed some life in those 36-year-old legs on Saturday against Indiana.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_HQ9E8OZyk

Phoenix’s Markieff Morris put back a buzzer-beating offensive rebound against Philadelphia on Saturday.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNGBAEVFOUI


The standouts

Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat (Dec. 28 / W, 108-107 at POR)

9 points (3-6 FG, 3-3 FT), 9 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers in 36 minutes

Marcus Morris, Phoenix Suns (Dec. 28 / W, 115-101 vs. PHI)

18 points (7-15 FG, 3-9 3PG, 1-1 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, 1 turnover in 25 minutes

Marcus Morris, Phoenix Suns (Dec. 23 / W, 117-90 vs. LAL)

19 points (6-9 FG, 5-6 3PG, 2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover in 25 minutes

Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns (Dec. 20 / W, 103-99 at DEN)

25 points (6-14 FG, 2-3 3PG, 11-15 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks, 1 turnover in 30 minutes

Paul Pierce, Brooklyn Nets (Dec. 20 / L, 121-120 OT at PHI)

24 points (7-9 FG, 4-6 3PG, 6-6 FT), 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 6 turnovers in 44 minutes

Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings (Dec. 20 / L, 122-103 at MIA)

20 points (8-13 FG, 4-7 3PG), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 turnovers in 33 minutes

Bonus video:


The injuries

Los Angeles Lakers early-season surprise and part-time starter Xavier Henry injured his right knee on Sunday against Philadelphia.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep435xvtOQ4

From ESPN Los Angeles:

"I just landed awkwardly on my leg when I was about to plant," Henry said. He added that his knee "feels weird" and "a little loose," saying that it "kind of buckled" but was only experiencing minimal swelling.

On Monday afternoon, Henry was diagnosed with a bone bruise and some cartilage damage but "nothing too severe," a source told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. The Lakers will reevaluate Henry in a week to 10 days.

Meanwhile, Denver’s Darrell Arthur missed two games with a “right quad contusion” before returning on Monday. Arthur celebrated with a near-season-high 13 points and his first made three of the season.

Chicago’s Kirk Hinrich was sidelined for about five games with a back injury that he attributed to “wear and tear.” Hinrich returned to action on Christmas Day and played alongside fill-in starter and fellow Big 12 alum D.J. Augustin.

From the Chicago Tribune:

"He's a great decision-maker, a knockdown shooter," Hinrich said of Augustin. "Me personally, just get my minutes down a little bit so I can just stay healthier. I feel like I'm more effective that way too."


The dunk

First Xavier Henry over Jeff Withey. Now LeBron James over Ben McLemore:

Rookie Jayhawks in the NBA are now 0-for-2 when trying to draw charges on devastating dunkers. Let that be a lesson to next year’s KU draft class: not everyone can be Nick Collison.

Luckily, McLemore’s spirit wasn’t broken by the play, and a few others, including James, shared some kind words after the game. From the Sacramento Bee:

“Just knowing LeBron, I knew they weren’t going to call that call (a charge on James),” McLemore said. “I was just playing my defensive principles. Going in, being the low man and taking the charge.”

Said Kings coach Michael Malone: “Ben is a fearless kid. I love his heart ... Some guys would duck and get of the way because they do not want be on the ESPN highlight tape. Ben is a competitor. He hates to lose.”

Said James: “As a defender it is a split second (decision) and if you make the wrong decision then that is what can happen. I have been fortunate enough to to be on the other end of a lot of those plays. It sucks that it was him too because I like him. I have been talking to him since he was in high school so that sucks.

Miami vet (and noted charge-taker) Shane Battier had the best reaction, though. Via ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh:

"At some point, you just cut your losses and do the fake trip and say, ‘Oh well, I tried.’"


The fouls

The holidays also saw a pair of flagrant fouls by the league’s Jayhawks.

Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce clotheslined Indiana’s George Hill on Dec. 23. Pierce was ejected and, a day later, fined $15,000 by the league.

Several nights later, on Dec. 27, Miami’s Mario Chalmers was tagged with a flagrant for contact with Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsCS8ttgULs

After the game, Chalmers accused Cousins of flopping on the play. From the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

"I asked them, 'Why was that a flagrant foul,' " he said. "They said, 'Unnecessary roughness.' I said, 'How? He shot the ball and I was going for a box out.' I said, 'If I could move 285 that easily then what does that tell you?' "

Chalmers is now one of this season’s leaders in flagrant fouls, a potentially costly distinction. Again, from the Sun Sentinel:

Once a player reaches seven flagrant points (one for a Flagrant 1, two for a Flagrant 2), all suspensions are for two games, all without pay. At Chalmers' $4 million salary, each game suspended is $36,000 in lost pay.

Chalmers already has sat out one game for his Flagrant 2 foul against Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki in November. Following that incident, coach Erik Spoelstra advised him of the stakes going forward.

"I've been trying to stay out of all altercations, keep my elbows down, and if I still get something like that, that's unpredictable," Chalmers said.

Chalmers previously was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul for a Nov. 7 elbow to the neck of Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin.


Notables

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers, left, drives against Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers, left, drives against Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Chalmers’ almost-triple-double: Miami faced Portland on Saturday without the NBA’s active leader in triple-doubles, LeBron James, and Mario Chalmers did his best to fill in with nine points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

From the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

"I wouldn't say he loves it when guys are out," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's not rooting for guys to be out. But he certainly relishes the chance to shoulder more responsibility."

As for the one point, one rebound and one assist that kept him from his first triple-double? To hear Chalmers tell it (via BleacherReport’s Ethan J. Skolnick), he had at least two assists that weren’t counted.


Pierce a starter again: Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce, who spent most of December coming off the bench after returning from injury, regained his starting job in the last two games. Frontcourt injuries and absences forced the move for the 10-20 Nets. Unfortunately for them, Pierce’s stats as a starter and reserve are nearly identical this season, with career-low 40 percent shooting and scoring in the low double-digits.


#LegendOfTheMorrii: Phoenix’s Marcus and Markieff Morris were the focus of a recent episode of NBATV’s “Inside Stuff.”


T-Rob benched: Portland’s Thomas Robinson hasn’t gotten off the bench in the last four games for the Trail Blazers. He appeared in the Blazers’ first 27 games, but coach Terry Stotts recently swapped Robinson for fellow second-year pro Meyers Leonard. BlazersEdge.com’s Ben Golliver looked at the motives behind the move, and Dane Carbaugh broke down some film on the players:


New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7), right laughs with teammate Cole Aldrich (45) during pre game practice before the NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7), right laughs with teammate Cole Aldrich (45) during pre game practice before the NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Cole "Basically Furniture" Aldrich. Poor Cole Aldrich has averaged just 3.3 minutes in 13 games this season for the New York Knicks. You know, those Knicks. New York’s unwillingness to use Aldrich despite a glaring frontcourt issues has led to great quips from Knicks fans on Twitter, including the aforementioned nickname and this tweet from Yahoo Sports’ Dan Devine:

"Hey, Cole!" "Yes, Coach?" "Go check to see if we have any more of that spiral ham in the locker room." "… OK, Coach."

Even when Aldrich does see time on the court, it’s not too encouraging. His five-minute garbage-time stint on Christmas Day earned him the moniker “Cole Somedrich.” At the very least, more Knicknames should be in store with Monday’s news that New York chose to cut reserve Chris Smith rather than Aldrich.


No baskets for Brandon: Utah’s Brandon Rush hasn’t scored a basket in six games (eight if you count DNPs Saturday and Monday). Rush has taken just eight shots over that span, bringing his season total to a measly 25 attempts in 13 games (11.9 mpg).


Taylor time: Brooklyn’s Tyshawn Taylor was assigned to the NBA D-League’s Springfield Armor for two games … and then recalled in time to play four total minutes in two games with the Nets. Since starting guard Deron Williams returned to the lineup, Taylor has played just 14 total minutes in five of 10 games.


Good news, Ben McLemore! The Kings may be 9-20, but early figures reveal that Sacramento has seen the biggest increase in attendance since last year. A stay of execution from the NBA — not to mention a new owner/GM/coach combo and a few trades — will do that to a franchise. For more on the attendance figures, head over to SBNation.com.


Quotables

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, top, goes up for a dunk as New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, top, goes up for a dunk as New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Lakers’ Xavier Henry on texting KU teammate Jeff Withey post-dunk-heard-around-the-world, via Grantland.com:

"He said he was doing all right," said Henry, the Lakers' 6-foot-6 swingman. "It was just one of his 'welcome to the league' moments. He said he learned not to take no charges no more."

On Sacramento’s Ben McLemore, from SBNation.com’s Tom Ziller:

The rookie was not good on Sunday. He had a rough time on offense, and he got torched quite a bit on defense. But he played 31 minutes, including all of crunch time. And I am totally fine with that, and legitimately prefer it to any other option. You don't learn how to play at the NBA level wearing warmups. You learn on the court. And Manu taught McLemore a few lessons on Sunday.

Brooklyn’s Tyshawn Taylor on Twitter … on Twitter:

I think it's funny when people say "you in the league why you respond to that" ain't that what twitter is for --to interact

I don't take this serious ... Like at all lol

On a former Jay in the NBA, as tweeted by retired NBA great and part owner of the Sacramento Kings Shaquille O’Neal:

Kings Fans, who is your favorite King of all time? Mine was Scot Pollard!


Required reading

Grantland.com’s Jonathan Abrams on Xavier Henry

Suns.com’s Matt Petersen on Markieff and Marcus Morris


Remember to check KUsports.com every night for the latest line scores from the ‘Hawks in the NBA.

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Quarter-season All-Stars

Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) and Mario Chalmers (15) stand on the court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) and Mario Chalmers (15) stand on the court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Nothing says December like an avalanche of “Best of” lists. And the NBA wants in on the fun.

Nevermind that the All-Star game is two months away or that just a fourth of the season is in the bag, first returns from this annual popularity contest are in.

Two Jayhawks made the 50-deep after the earliest round of fan voting:

— Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers was the No. 10 vote-getter among Eastern Conference backcourt players with 32,996 votes.

— Brooklyn Nets small forward Paul Pierce sits at 13th among East frontcourt players with 45,145 votes.

Of course, with just two backcourt slots and three frontcourt slots per conference, things don’t look good for Chalmers or Pierce. Leaders in the East received over 390,000 and 600,000 votes, respectively.

Fan voting for the 10 All-Star starters ends on Jan. 20, so if there’s any time to Rock Chalk the vote, it’s now.


Morris twins march on

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris shoots during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris shoots during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris landed on the initial 120-player All-Star fan ballot, but didn’t collect a noteworthy number of votes in the first round of results.

Not surprising for a bench player who’s just now showing up on the radar of many NBA fans.

Besides, Co-Sixth Men of the Year sounds like a much more fitting award for Markieff and brother Marcus.

The twins, through the first 22 games of the season:

Markieff Morris
12.8 points (50.2 FG%), 6.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.9 steals in 26.0 minutes a game

Marcus Morris
10.9 points (47.0 FG%, 1.4 threes at 42.9%), 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals in 22.8 minutes a game

Among all bench players without a single start this season, here’s how the Morrii rank:

Scoring: 3rd. Markieff; 6th. Marcus

Rebounding: T1st. Markieff; 3rd. Marcus

Free-throw attempts: 5th. Markieff; 11th. Marcus

Steals: T4th. Marcus; T9th. Markieff

Increased efficiency has played a big part in the twins’ success.

Markieff has bumped his shooting up from 39.9 and 40.7 percent in his first two seasons to 50.2 percent this year. That’s the ninth-biggest improvement from 2012-13 to 2013-14 as calculated by NBA.com’s John Schuhmann.

Earlier this month, Keef explained his new offensive mindset:

"I've just got a great feel for the game right now," he said. "I'm not trying to shoot as many 3s as I have in the past. I've just been working on driving to the basket and trying to get to the line."

The stats back it up. Markieff is shooting just 0.8 threes this season compared to 1.6 last year. And in just a few more minutes a game, he’s taking 3.7 free throws, up from 1.5.

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris, shot distribution comparison from 2012-13 to 2013-14 seasons.

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris, shot distribution comparison from 2012-13 to 2013-14 seasons.

Meanwhile, Marcus’ shooting is up from 29.6 and 42.2 percent to 47.0 percent.

Defensive improvements have been just as important.

Orlando Magic's Glen Davis, right, attempts a shot over Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

Orlando Magic's Glen Davis, right, attempts a shot over Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

From Paul Coro of AZCentral.com:

(Markieff) Morris draws 4.3 fouls per 48 minutes of play this season. That is down from 5.5 fouls per 48 minutes last season and 7.0 two seasons ago.

“He’s focusing on his defense earlier,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “In the past, to me it looked like he didn’t want to play defense. He just wanted to be out there and kind of get by. Then all of a sudden, you get yourself in bad situations and you have to foul somebody. But he’s doing his defensive work early. Consequently, he’s in better position, and you don’t have to foul.”

“He’s not long enough to think he’s going to go block all the shots. He’s got to work on his positioning and he’s done a great job of that. The quicker reactions have helped him.”

And that whole twin thing? It’s working out for the Suns.

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris, front and his twin, Markieff Morris, warm up prior to an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris, front and his twin, Markieff Morris, warm up prior to an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Again, from AZCentral.com:

When Hornacek first saw his team practice, he felt like the other three players on the court were non-existent when Markieff and Marcus Morris were playing together. Hornacek joked that when they want to make sure a pass is made in a called play, they have the twins on both ends of it.

“I think Markieff is one of the best passers on our team and he’s probably one of the best big-man passers in the league,” Hornacek said. “He can really see things happen. We try to put him in positions where he can make passes.”

Sounds like a recipe for success as the season enters its second quarter.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAjp6xVoS_Y


Can Xavier Henry still dunk?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLn4sl8EoC0

Yes.


Tyshawn to Toronto?

Brooklyn Nets guard Tyshawn Taylor (10) dribbles as he looks to pass in the first half of their NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks at the Barclays Center, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Brooklyn Nets guard Tyshawn Taylor (10) dribbles as he looks to pass in the first half of their NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks at the Barclays Center, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Brooklyn Nets guard Tyshawn Taylor has been mentioned as a trade chip in a proposed deal with the Toronto Raptors, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Talks are ongoing, but considering Taylor’s lukewarm play and the return of starting point guard Deron Williams, the Nets may choose move the second-year pro.

Make sure that passport is up-to-date, Tyshawn.


Blooper reel

New York Knicks forward Kenyon Martin (3) dives for the ball as Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) dribbles in the first half of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

New York Knicks forward Kenyon Martin (3) dives for the ball as Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) dribbles in the first half of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Turnovers aren’t, um, an ideal basketball play. But their entertainment value can be off the charts.

Two former KU stars ended up with brilliant bloopers recently.

Seldom-used New York Knicks center Cole Aldrich showed off his dance moves in a game against Orlando.

And Chicago's Kirk Hinrich had the best/saddest reaction to a missed pass in the history of basketball:

Poor Kirk went full Charlie Brown after the turnover, so the folks at SBNation.com paired the video with the most appropriate music ever.

Good grief, indeed.


Collison makes his case

Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison (4) scores in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, in Atlanta. Oklahoma City won 101-92. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison (4) scores in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, in Atlanta. Oklahoma City won 101-92. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

How does a player with career averages of 6.7 points and 5.8 rebounds earn the distinction of “No-Stats All-Star”?

Oklahoma City forward Nick Collison explained earlier this week on NBATV:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM3F6K3ttuo

Remember, kids, setting screens and taking charges can be cool, too:


Quotables

On telling Markieff and Marcus Morris apart, from Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough:

"That's one of the toughest parts of my job."

On watching the Morris twins before a game, from ESPN’s Danny Chau:

I watched the Morris brothers play Dueling Lefty Jumpers. Marcus won. I think.

Paul Pierce on his move from Boston to Brooklyn, via Andy Vasquez:

"I'm a guy that when it's time to move on you move on. You can ask any girlfriend I've ever had."

Darrell Arthur, on a hidden talent, via DenverStiffs.com Q&A:

I like to bowl, I learned to bowl in college. I'm really fascinated with spinning [the ball]. When I get out there I just have fun with it, I'm not that good, but I like to get out there and bowl.

On Thomas Robinson during Portland’s game against Utah on Monday, from BlazersEdge.com:

If Energy Solutions Arena was a Jazz bar tonight Thomas Robinson did the equivalent of busting down the front door and swinging a gunny sack full of bowling balls through the entire combo.


Don’t forget to keep tabs on all your favorite ‘Hawks in the NBA with KUsports.com’s daily stat recaps.

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Pierce returns off bench, beats former team

Boston Celtics guard Jeff Green (8) and Celtics forward Kris Humphries (43) defend Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) in the second half of their their NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, in New York. The Nets defeated the Celtics 104-96. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Boston Celtics guard Jeff Green (8) and Celtics forward Kris Humphries (43) defend Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) in the second half of their their NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, in New York. The Nets defeated the Celtics 104-96. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

It finally happened. Not that Paul Pierce ever intended for things to go down this way, exactly, but the 16-year veteran, in his 1,118th NBA game, played against the Boston Celtics for the very first time Tuesday night in Brooklyn.

Now a member of the Nets, Pierce had missed the previous four games with a broken bone in his right hand, so he came off the bench in his not-so-storybook showdown with his former team, which traded him away to build for the future.

The (hurt) Truth at least got the win after playing 22 minutes, going 0-for-3 from the field and finishing with four points, seven rebounds and three assists. But it was the return of another once ailing Net, point guard Deron Williams, that led Brooklyn to a 104-96 home win.

Pierce served as a sub for just the fourth time in his illustrious career and didn't appear to be 100 percent (he wore a protective glove of sorts on his hand), but he proved he could still make plays, with this dish to Nets big man Andray Blatche.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SauXMMKxxcM

One might assume Pierce only came back at this point so he could do damage against his former team. However, the veteran called the timing a "coincidence" in a story from Newsday's Roderick Boone:

"My whole focus was about getting back healthy, coming out trying to help my team, establishing something at home. It just happens to be a coincidence that the day I come back is against the Celtics. It will probably be a little bit more emotional when I go back to Boston. We already had a preseason game against them. I already had a chance to holler at them in the preseason."


It's hard to imagine a guy with 24,211 career regular-season points to his name could become a backup, but his first-year coach, Jason Kidd, hinted the struggling Nets (7-14) could use Pierce in that role, according to a story from Stefan Bondy in the New York Daily News:

“I liked him being a leader with that second group,” Kidd said. “Will it stay that way? I don’t know. We will look at the video tomorrow as a team and coaches. I will talk to Paul and see what his comfort level is, but I would like to get him back, give him more minutes and get him used to that glove.”


We'll have to wait and see how long that takes, and if the highly touted Nets can start living up to their hype with the help of the former Jayhawks star.


Super Morris Bros.

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) shoots over Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Miller (13) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) shoots over Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Miller (13) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

In the ongoing battle to see who is the superior Morris twin off of the Phoenix Suns' bench, Marcus took another step forward Tuesday night.

His twin brother, Markieff (13.0 points, 6.2 rebounds), has stood out most of the season thus far for the surprising Suns (12-9), but Marcus (11.0 points, 4.9 rebounds) had another breakout game in Phoenix's 114-108 win at the Los Angeles Lakers. Mook (is that short for Marcus? I don't know, but his Twitter handle is @MookMorris2) made 10 of his 13 shots in the Phoenix win and scored a season-high 22 points.

Paul Coro, of azcentral.com, called it Marcus's best game of the season, noting the 6-foot-9 Wonder Twin exploits bigger power forwards when the Suns go small ball. In those situations, Marcus said, his larger defenders tend to back off on the perimeter, in order to better defend potential drives.

“Little do they know, that’s what I want,” Morris said. “I work on (jumpers) every day with Mark (West, Suns assistant coach).”


The Morrii, Coro pointed out, scored 11 straight points for the Suns late. And Markieff didn't have a bad game, either, with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Good thing Marcus was looking out for him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAjp6xVoS_Y


Chalmers a surefire hall-of-famer (in Alaska)

Indiana Pacers guard George Hill, right, defends Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. The Pacers defeated the Heat 90-84. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Indiana Pacers guard George Hill, right, defends Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. The Pacers defeated the Heat 90-84. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

NBA fans got to see the season's first marquee matchup of the Eastern Conference Tuesday night, when the Miami Heat played at the Indiana Pacers.

In the first of what figures to be numerous battles (regular-season and playoffs) between the clear-cut favorites of the East, Mario Chalmers had kind of a rough night in a 90-84 loss.

The sixth-year guard out of Kansas shot 3-for-7, had nine points, two steals, two assists and two turnovers for the two-time defending champion Heat (16-6) against the league's current top team, Indiana (19-3).

These in-game tweets from the media reveal a little more about what Chalmers endured.



Chalmers at least served up a highlight dish in the final minutes — not that it will win him any notoriety.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2wW5_C0zOU

The Anchorage, Alaska, native's past performances earned him some distinction, though. He received some good news before the game: Chalmers will be inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

And, hey, even after a disappointing loss, things could be worse: Chalmers could spend his winters in Minnesota, instead of Miami.



Before we wrap things up, just for good measure, here's Ben McLemore in a Sacramento Kings Santa hat doing good.


— Don't forget to check out our daily 'Hawks in the NBA stat recaps here at KUsports.com.

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Tyshawn Taylor, a hit in Brooklyn

Eight seconds left, down by two points, no timeouts and Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd needed someone to execute a clutch play.

Enter former KU guard Tyshawn Taylor.

Brooklyn Nets point guard Tyshawn Taylor (10) shoots against Los Angeles Lakers center Robert Sacre (50) as point guard Jordan Farmar (1) looks on in the first half of an NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in New York. The Lakers defeated the Nets 99-94. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Brooklyn Nets point guard Tyshawn Taylor (10) shoots against Los Angeles Lakers center Robert Sacre (50) as point guard Jordan Farmar (1) looks on in the first half of an NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in New York. The Lakers defeated the Nets 99-94. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Nets have had to rely on Taylor in recent weeks with starting point guard Deron Williams sidelined by an ankle injury. Taylor’s response has been equal parts highlight and lowlight with nearly a turnover for every assist.

But he sure came through in crunch time on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Look at that form! The split-second decision-making! Taylor has a reputation for forcing turnovers — his and others’ — and he lived up to that billing when his coach called his number.

The extra timeout didn’t go quite as well. For starters, fellow Jayhawk Xavier Henry was one of two Lakers to infiltrate the Nets’ huddle. (“we needed to know what play they was gon run lol,” Henry tweeted afterward)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVuHC1lJZos

And then another KU alum, Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce, missed the shot that would have forced overtime.

But back to Taylor. After the game, Tyshawn continued his All-Star performance, this time at the mic:

Taylor also denied that the spill was intentional. "Naw, I wasn't paying attention," Taylor said after the game. "I didn't even know he was holding nothing. Like, coach is drinking soda on the sidelines! I'm like 'What? What you doing?'"

Taylor acknowledged the benefit of the "accidental" spill. "It might ice a free throw shooter and be a time-out when you don't have one, but that wasn't the thought process. I was just coming out and he was in my way."

He then laughed. "'Coach, get out my way, bro.'"

The NBA will fine Kidd $50,000 for the soda stunt, according to Yahoo Sports. We say give the money to Taylor for a job well done.


Better ‘safe’ than ...

Denver Nuggets' Darrell Arthur (00) knocks the ball away from Houston Rockets' Terrence Jones in the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Houston. The Rockets won 122-111. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Denver Nuggets' Darrell Arthur (00) knocks the ball away from Houston Rockets' Terrence Jones in the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Houston. The Rockets won 122-111. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Darrell Arthur hasn’t been spectacular in his first season with the Denver Nuggets, but since Denver starting center JaVale McGee went down with an injury, he’s been solid. “Safe,” even.

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, via the Denver Post:

"He's a safety net for us," Shaw said. "With him, he might be kind of, without a better way of saying it, he was the sacrificial lamb early on. But I know what I'm going to get out of him.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20r5fcLmKKs

In the last 10 games, Arthur’s averaged 6.3 points, 2.3 rebounds in 19 minutes. Again, not spectacular, but during those 19 minutes when Arthur’s on the floor, the Nuggets have outscored their opponents by an average of 7.2 points.

A couple of factors in that, from Denver Post writer Christopher Dempsey:

He's shown himself to be arguably the Nuggets' best big man in the pick-and-roll defense. And he's a reliable shooter.

For more on Arthur’s contributions for the Nuggets, read “The Hidden Impact of Darrell Arthur,” by RoundballMiningCompany.com.


Twintuition

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris, left, shakes hands with his twin brother Marcus, as they walk off the court after the Suns 107-104 loss to the Sacramento King in a NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris, left, shakes hands with his twin brother Marcus, as they walk off the court after the Suns 107-104 loss to the Sacramento King in a NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Those Morris twins have shared some success this season as key reserves for the Phoenix Suns. They’ve also shared more than a few baskets:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSK6U5FfYJE

Paul Coro of AZcentral.com described a couple more Morris-to-Morris connections from Wednesday’s game against Portland:

In the third quarter, Markieff grabbed his own rebound and Marcus was the first to instinctively come back to the play. Markieff wrapped a pass around a defender to Marcus for a layup. In the second quarter, Markieff split two Trail Blazers to get to an offensive rebound that he could only tap out but he knew where Marcus was on the court and slapped it to him for a leaner.

A quick perusal of Suns’ box scores tell the story best, though.

Markieff has tallied 25 assists this season. Of those, 10 have gone to Marcus.

Meanwhile, Marcus has only 15 assists, but eight of those are on baskets by Markieff.

Do you think they like playing together?


Fun with stats

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) drives around Orlando Magic's Jameer Nelson, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) drives around Orlando Magic's Jameer Nelson, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

Miami’s Mario Chalmers, the guy who made a name for himself at the top of the arc, is the NBA’s best shooter on corner threes this season. He’s hit 10 of 13 attempts (77 percent), including perfect 6-for-6 marksmanship from the left corner. (hat tip to Comcast SportsNet’s A. Sherrod Blakely)


Quoteables

On Brandon Rush, from Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, via the Deseret News:

“(He’s) just trying to get his confidence back and feeling comfortable with the guys, reassure himself that his leg’s ready to go,” Corbin said. “I hope this is the top of the hill so we can get him on the floor. He’s been looking very (good) in practice. We’re looking for him to be ready to go.”

Tyshawn Taylor on playing fourth-quarter minutes, from the New York Daily News:

“Getting out there and kind of getting your feet wet, kind of getting used to the system and playing with the guys in game-like settings is great for the confidence. It’s huge for me.”

Markieff Morris, earning a technical foul after a call by NBA ref/fellow Philadelphia native Joey Crawford, via OrlandoMagic.com’s John Denton:

"You can't come back to Philly after that."

On the Morrii, from South Florida SunSentinel’s Ira Winderman:

Markieff Morris dunks, brother Marcus, awaiting at scorers' table, goes, "Woo!"


Don’t forget to keep tabs on all your favorite ‘Hawks in the NBA with KUsports.com’s daily stat recaps.

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A Morris Brothers Mystery: The Case of the Disappearing Sun

Move over, Hardy Boys. There’s a new set of sibling sleuths on the trail. From Philly to Phoenix by way of the Phog, these twins are out for the truth. And their biggest case yet is… THEMSELVES.

(cue dramatic music)

When we last left our heroes…

Official Ron Garretson talks with Phoenix Suns forwards Marcus Morris center and his twin brother Markieff, before an NBA preseason basketball game against the Sacramento KIngs in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Official Ron Garretson talks with Phoenix Suns forwards Marcus Morris center and his twin brother Markieff, before an NBA preseason basketball game against the Sacramento KIngs in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Marcus and Markieff, coming off their first offseason as Suns teammates, were leading the league’s best bench. Markieff was the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 22.8 points (on 70 percent shooting), 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals. Marcus was chipping in double-digit scoring nights here and there, with solid rebounding and a few threes.

And then!

Phoenix Suns power forward Markieff Morris (11) battles for a rebound with Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

Phoenix Suns power forward Markieff Morris (11) battles for a rebound with Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

Markieff’s magical run came to an abrupt halt. Eight points. Four points! Three points!! Two points!!!

Keef went from a four-game hot streak into a four-game freeze.

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris, shots made/taken from Nov. 5 to Nov. 20, 2013. (Journal-World graphic)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris, shots made/taken from Nov. 5 to Nov. 20, 2013. (Journal-World graphic)

He couldn’t buy a basket. Flu-like symptoms slowed him in one game. Foul trouble was the culprit in another. His minutes dropped along with his production, and Blake Griffin stole the WCPOTW championship belt.

Meanwhile…

Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris (15), right, drives on New Orleans Pelicans center Jason Smith (14) in the third quarter during an NBA basketball game on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Pelicans 101-94. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris (15), right, drives on New Orleans Pelicans center Jason Smith (14) in the third quarter during an NBA basketball game on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Pelicans 101-94. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Marcus picked up the slack off the Suns bench, averaging 15 points (on 65 percent shooting), 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 threes in his last three games.

Will Markieff’s slump persist? Will Marcus’ surge continue? Are we getting too worked up over a small sample size? Or will we find out that the twins SWITCHED JERSEYS?

Answers (to some of those questions) are coming. Phoenix plays three of the next four nights, including Sunday on NBATV against Orlando.

To be continued.


Rock (chalk) the vote

East's Paul Pierce, of the Boston Celtics, drives between West's Deron Williams, right, of the Utah Jazz, and Pau Gasol, of the Los Angeles Lakers, during the second half of the NBA basketball All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

East's Paul Pierce, of the Boston Celtics, drives between West's Deron Williams, right, of the Utah Jazz, and Pau Gasol, of the Los Angeles Lakers, during the second half of the NBA basketball All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

NBA All-Star ballots are out already, and three former Jayhawks — Paul Pierce, Mario Chalmers and Markieff Morris — are among the 120 players on this year’s list.

For details on how to vote, go here. Voting ends on Jan. 20, with 2014 All-Star festivities scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 16 in New Orleans.

Pierce was the last Jayhawk to play in the NBA’s mid-season classic, way back in 2012. But look for rookie Ben McLemore or sophomore Thomas Robinson to sneak into the “Rising Stars Challenge.” Unless there’s another event better suited to their talents, that is.


Fun with stats

New York Knicks center Cole Aldrich

New York Knicks center Cole Aldrich

If New York’s Cole Aldrich had defended Indiana for the full 48 minutes on Wednesday, the Pacers would have scored 4,114 points on the Knicks.

Is he the worst defender in the history of the basketball? Nope. Just a scrub who played a total of 2.1 seconds. A very unlucky 2.1 seconds:

Could have been worse. Looking at your failed high-five, No. 11.


All grown up

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson gives teammate Tyshawn Taylor a hug, at the end of regulation play as the two combined for a total 55 points against Baylor on Monday January 16, 2012 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson gives teammate Tyshawn Taylor a hug, at the end of regulation play as the two combined for a total 55 points against Baylor on Monday January 16, 2012 in Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Tyshawn Taylor’s Brooklyn Nets and Thomas Robinson’s Portland Trail Blazers squared off on Monday. T-Rob and the Blazers came out on top in the box score, but the two stars of the 2011-12 Jayhawks shared a moment before the game.


Nick Collison, for threeeeeee

Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison (4) shoots a free throw during the NBA game against the Dallas Mavericks in Oklahoma City, Wednesday Nov. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Brett Deering)

Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison (4) shoots a free throw during the NBA game against the Dallas Mavericks in Oklahoma City, Wednesday Nov. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Brett Deering)

Oklahoma City Thunder blog ThunderObsessed watched OKC forward Nick Collison drain three-pointer after three-pointer during practice on Wednesday.

Sure, the same Nick Collison has converted just two of 23 three-point tries in the 10 years since he went 23-for-64 at Kansas. But one of those NBA makes came this season. And with all the long-range luck in OKC these days, why not keep firing away?


Quotables

Markieff Morris on playing with Marcus, from Yahoo! Sports:

"We vowed that we work so hard that (being on separate teams) will never happen again," Markieff Morris said. "You never know how it will happen or how it's going to go. We are cherishing this time."


Brandon Rush on returning to the court, from the Salt Lake Tribune:

"I think it’s just a mental thing right now," he said. "Everything else is physically fine. It’s just getting over that hump."


Paul Pierce on the 3-8 Brooklyn Nets, from Newsday:

"There's no finger pointing. There's no whispering in this locker room. We don't allow that. So, I feel confident this group is going to continue to get better."


Kirk Hinrich offering faint praise for the NBA’s sleeved Christmas Day jerseys, from the Chicago Tribune:

"They're interesting."

‘Hawk hypotheticals

Jeff Withey on what he’d be doing if he weren’t in the NBA, from Pelicans.com:

“I’d probably want to be a real estate agent.”


A possible glimpse at Nick Collison’s future, from @ThunderObsessed:

“Collison talked about being excited about KD’s restaurant. Said if he had his own, (he’d) serve steaks.”

Don’t forget to keep tabs on all your favorite ‘Hawks in the NBA with KUsports.com’s daily stat recaps.

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McLemore takes flight in Sacramento

It might be time to re-name this blog Toma-'Hawks (or something cooler and more clever). Just about every time we post a new blog, there is another Kansas product throwing down a ludicrous dunk.

The latest offering comes courtesy of Sacramento Kings rookie Ben McLemore.

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, left, stuffs against Phoenix Suns' Miles Plumlee, center and Channing Frye during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. The Kings won 107-104.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, left, stuffs against Phoenix Suns' Miles Plumlee, center and Channing Frye during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. The Kings won 107-104.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

I'll be honest, when I was on twitter after watching future Jayhawks in the NBA Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden, etc., etc., beat Iona, I though McLemore might have dunked on one (or both?!) of the Morrii.


With the recent rash of Jayhawk-on-Jayhawk crime (see Xavier Henry on Jeff Withey, and Thomas Robinson over the Morrii), one could only assume the spree would continue. But, no. McLemore actually posterized one of the 16 or so Plumlees to come out of Duke and Arizona product Channing Frye.

Unlike some of his past games, though, McLemore did much more than produce a showy dunk. His 19 points in the Kings' 107-104 victory matched a career high, and he played 34 minutes, which likely means coach Mike Malone wants the 6-foot-5 shooting guard playing a prominent role in his rotation.

Here's a postage interview with McLemore: from News 10 ABC, in Sacramento.


Trading places

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris, left, shakes hands with his twin brother Marcus, as they walk off the court after the Suns 107-104 loss to the Sacramento King in a NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris, left, shakes hands with his twin brother Marcus, as they walk off the court after the Suns 107-104 loss to the Sacramento King in a NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

In Phoenix's loss, it was Marcus (averaging 10 points per game), not Markieff (13.1 ppg), doing more damage. Marcus put up 19 points in the loss, while twin brother Kieff got in foul trouble, only played 11 minutes and had season lows of zero field goals and three points.

Even before the game, Paul Coro from azcentral.com had a story on Marcus playing better for Phoenix, which proved to be prophetic.

Here's how Marcus went to work versus Sactown.


Chalmers returns

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) drives past Atlanta Hawks center Pero Antic (6) of Macedonia, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 in Miami. The Heat defeated the Hawks 104-88. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) drives past Atlanta Hawks center Pero Antic (6) of Macedonia, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 in Miami. The Heat defeated the Hawks 104-88. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

We told you the other day about Mario Chalmers' ejection and suspension following a forearm to Dirk Nowitzki's face. Well, Chalmers used the punishment as motivation and returned Tuesday night to help the Miami Heat beat Atlanta, 104-88.

The Miami Herald's Joseph Goodman highlights Chalmers' night in his story. And the Heat's James Jones told Goodman the Heat need the former Jayhawk on the floor:

“Our core guys are still LeBron, D-Wade, [Chris Bosh] and Mario, so as long as we have three or four of those guys, the rest of our supporting cast just comes in and does what we do. We make shots, we’re aggressive, we’re active and we moved the ball.”

Chalmers scored 14 points and passed out four assists in his return. Clearly he enjoyed himself, as you can see in these gifs, and postgame interview with Chris Bosh.


— Don't forget, keep up with all the 'Hawks in the NBA and their statistical output every day at KUSports.com.

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Tyshawn Taylor sighting — and not in the D-League

Brooklyn Nets' Tyshawn Taylor (10) plays against the Boston Celtics in the first quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Brooklyn Nets' Tyshawn Taylor (10) plays against the Boston Celtics in the first quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Earlier this month, Brooklyn Nets second-year guard Tyshawn Taylor heard from team management the letter-and-word combo no player in the NBA wants said to him: D-League.

As in, that's where Taylor was headed.

But his stay with the Springfield Armor only lasted a few days, and by Saturday night in Los Angeles, the KU product made the most of a rare opportunity to play. Going up against the Clippers when most of the Nets' key pieces, including point guard Deron Williams, missed the game with injuries, Taylor logged 15 minutes in a 110-103 loss.

Compare that to four combined minutes in two other appearances this season. (Translation: Taylor usually falls victim to the dreaded DNP-CD.) Not on Saturday, though. Taylor hit a three-pointer, went 6-for-8 at the foul line and racked up 13 points, four assists and three steals in limited action.

There's even video evidence:

Now, this probably doesn't mean Taylor has earned a spot in the Nets' rotation. But the more he makes of these chances, the more he'll be called upon in the future.


Oops upside Dirk's head

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) reacts after being ejected after referees ruled that he intentionally swung an elbow at the head of Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki of Germany, while trying to fight through a screen set by the Mavs' Samuel Dalembert during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 in Miami. The Heat defeated the Mavericks 110-104. At left is forward LeBron James. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) reacts after being ejected after referees ruled that he intentionally swung an elbow at the head of Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki of Germany, while trying to fight through a screen set by the Mavs' Samuel Dalembert during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 in Miami. The Heat defeated the Mavericks 110-104. At left is forward LeBron James. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Mario Chalmers' weekend wasn't as promising or positive as Taylor's. The Miami Heat guard took his left forearm to Dirk Nowitzki's face on Friday night, and the league kind of frowns upon that kind of thing.

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel breaks it down:

In essence, the foul cost Chalmers part of Friday's fourth quarter, all of Saturday's game and now basically has him on flagrant-foul probation the balance of the season. Norris Cole started in his place Saturday.

Here's Winderman's full story on the ejection/flagrant foul: Chalmers suspended for foul on Nowitzki

In response to the ejection, Chalmers had this to tweet:


And at least one media member took Chalmers' side:


You can judge for yourself here (quality isn't great, but at least you get the idea):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRfGgMT_TpE

We'll see how Chalmers responds to this situation in the days, weeks and months to come.


Keep in mind, Chalmers is a free agent this coming offseason, and will be looking to get paid.

Here's Winderman's take: Could Chalmers prove too costly for the Heat?


More from the Morrii

Hey, it wouldn't be a 'Hawks in the NBA blog if we didn't catch up with everybody's favorite Wonder Twins. No, not these two. Why would you even make that reference?

We're talking about Marcus and Markieff Morris, of course.

Phoenix Suns power forward Marcus Morris, right, and power forward Markieff Morris, center, battle for a rebound against New Orleans Pelicans small forward Al-Farouq Aminu, left, in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. The Suns won 104-98. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Phoenix Suns power forward Marcus Morris, right, and power forward Markieff Morris, center, battle for a rebound against New Orleans Pelicans small forward Al-Farouq Aminu, left, in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. The Suns won 104-98. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The NBA Hang Time blog provides some Morrii gems from Phoenix, including this quote from Markieff:

“We’re like the Spurs, how they’ve been together for a long time, so used to each other and playing together.”

Not sure the Morrii will be racking up NBA titles like the Spurs, but you never know, I guess. (Spoiler alert: we do know. This is what the Suns looked like the last time they made the NBA Finals. In 1993.)


Hinrich meshes with D-Rose

Enough about all these young guys. What's up with our favorite spectacle-wearing KU product?

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers guard George Hill (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013. The Bulls won 110-94. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers guard George Hill (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013. The Bulls won 110-94. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Well, for one, Kirk Hinrich is healthy, which pleases Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, the Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton writes.

As you can read in the Tribune, the Bulls like playing Hinrich and superstar Derrick Rose together in their back court. In fact, Hinrich developed chemistry with the future NBA MVP on his first tour with Chicago.

Hinrich on playing with Rose:

"We play a little faster, we play pick and roll on one side, pick and roll on the other side, make the defense move. It's hard to get locked in to what we're doing because we're both in there. Pick and rolls on both sides of the floor are tough to defend."

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