Posts tagged with Phoenix Suns

Forget Phoenix: Marcus Morris ready for expanded role with Detroit

Vacationing with his twin brother and teammate Markieff Morris last week, Marcus Morris abruptly learned Phoenix had traded him to Detroit.

Caught off guard by the news then, Marcus appeared over the transaction that split up the Suns’ twin tandem when the Pistons introduced their newest player at a Friday afternoon press conference.

“At the same time it’s a business,” said Marcus, joining the third organization of his four-year NBA career. “Forget Phoenix. I’m here in Detroit and I’m ready to get started. I have high expectations of myself and I’m just ready to get to work. You’ll see.”

The Morris twins, of course, starred together at Kansas before leaving school one year early to enter the 2011 NBA Draft. The Suns took Markieff 13th overall, and Marcus went next in the first round, to Houston.

During his first appearance as a member of the Pistons, Marcus admitted he never settled in with the Rockets, because he always thought he would end up in Phoenix, with his brother. He was right. The Suns reunited the Morrii in 2013 via a trade. Marcus assumed he and Markieff would remain teammates for the foreseeable future.

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Wearing a Detroit Bad Boys cap, Marcus reflected on the business move that sent him away from his brother.

“I mean, things change, situations change,” he said. “I’m a basketball player, I’m a man, so nobody’s gonna feel sorry for me — me going different places. So I just have to adjust and, you know, do my job.”

Asked during the press conference about playing on a different team than Markieff, Marcus simply responded: “Life goes on.”

Shortly after the Q and A, though, Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press got Marcus to open up more on the matter.

“Everybody knew how bad I wanted to play with my brother. Phoenix knew,” Marcus told the Free Press. “For them to trade me without consent or telling me was like a slap in the face, because of the contract I took from those guys and the money I took from them. I'm happy to be here. I'm a Piston. I'm a Bad Boy. I'm ready to get started.''

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy had a lot to do with Marcus feeling better about going to Detroit, where he’ll wear No. 13.

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“We said coming into the summer that our biggest priority was to get a starting small forward, and with this deal we think we’ve done that,” Van Gundy said.

In Phoenix this past season, Marcus started in 35 of his 81 appearances, but butted heads with coach Jeff Hornacek and only played 25.2 minutes a game — averaging 10.4 points and 4.8 rebounds while making 35.8% of his 3-pointers.

Upon welcoming Marcus to Detroit, Van Gundy told the 25-year-old forward the organization had significantly different plans for him.

“We were really, really happy that this (trade) was available,” the Pistons coach said. “We think Marcus is at a point in his career where he’s already established himself as a very good player, but now with an increased opportunity we think he’s got a chance to really blossom into even more than we’ve seen so far.”

Not only does Van Gundy want Marcus to mentor incoming lottery pick Stanley Johnson, of Arizona, but he expects the 6-foot-9 forward to play a large role in the offense, with big man Andre Drummond and point guard Reggie Jackson.

“I’ll probably have more opportunities than I had in Phoenix, so I’m definitely looking forward to that part,” Marcus said.

In Detroit, he might be able to catch up with the production of twin brother Markieff, who averaged 17.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals for the Suns while starting all 82 games in the 2014-15 season.

But it sounds as if the twins aren’t expecting Markieff to stick around in Phoenix much longer, either — which could stem from the brothers’ alleged involvement in an aggravated assault, a charge to which they pleaded not guilty.

“I hope he does well wherever he’s at,” Marcus said, “if it’s Phoenix or wherever.”


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


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Phoenix splits up Morris twins, trades Marcus to Detroit

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris look to the bench during an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris look to the bench during an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris might have played their final NBA game as teammates.

Although Phoenix did the former Kansas stars a favor by trading for Marcus in 2013 and signing both of them to extensions prior to the 2014-15 season, with free agency in full swing, the Suns reportedly decided to split the twins up in order to chase the top available player.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who breaks almost every NBA story out there, reported Thursday afternoon Phoenix agreed to move Marcus and two other Suns to Detroit for — of all things — a second-round draft pick in 2020. Obviously, that wasn’t the organization’s end game. Wojnarowski reported Phoenix agreed on the deal to clear cap space as it tries to sign power forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

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Breaking up the Morris brothers likely has nothing to do with Marcus’s caught-on-TV shouting match with Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, but the twins’ alleged involvement in a felony aggravated assault case in Phoenix probably didn’t inspire the franchise to remain invested in the young forwards, who are 25 years old headed into their fifth season in the NBA.

Obviously, this move won’t sit well with the Morris twins (or the Morrii, if you prefer), and we’ll certainly hear more on that front once all the summer movement settles. In the meantime, Markieff expressed his shock via Twitter.

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If he isn’t happy with Phoenix’s management, he may not have to worry about any awkward exchanges in the near future. Wojnarowski also reported the Suns could be working on another trade involving their leftover Morris.

None by Adrian Wojnarowski

So try to keep up with the mayhem that is free agency season, and remain on the lookout for more Woj-bombs. Markieff could be moved to Dallas in the time it takes to type 140 characters.

Markieff, the ideal stretch-4 for the NBA, has experienced more success in the league than Marcus to date. But Marcus, who played both small forward and power forward with the Suns, has played in all but one game over the past two seasons, started 35 this past year and averaged 10.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 25.2 minutes in what proved to be his final campaign with the Suns.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Pistons have Marcus, Danny Granger, lottery pick Stanley Johnson, Quincy Miller, Ersan Ilyasova and Anthony Tolliver as their forwards. So starting at the 3 or 4 spot wouldn’t be out of the question for Marcus in Detroit. Or he could become a valuable sixth man.

No doubt Marcus hates this business move right now, but it could actually benefit his career down the road if he makes the most of it. He’ll just have to find a new roommate.


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


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Marcus Morris making strides in Phoenix, too

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) makes a shot over Orlando Magic's Andrew Nicholson (44) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) makes a shot over Orlando Magic's Andrew Nicholson (44) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Years from now, when people look back at Markieff Morris’s NBA career, the 2014-15 season just might stand out as the one in which he shed the label of role player and established himself as one of the more skilled big forwards in the Western Conference.

But his twin brother and Phoenix teammate Marcus is making serious strides this season, too.

2014-15 Morrii stats (through 74 games) PPG FG% 3% FT% RPG APG BPG SPG TOPG MPG
Markieff Morris 15.6 .466 .323 .757 6.0 2.2 0.5 1.3 2.1 31.4
Marcus Morris 10.6 .441 .368 .619 4.6 1.6 0.2 0.7 0.9 24.9

The real breakthrough game for Marcus — as referenced by Ben York at Suns.com — came back in February against Utah. Subbing in off the bench, he put up a career-high 34 points and a then-career-high 12 rebounds. Marcus converted 11 of his 17 field goal tries and nailed 5 of 7 3-pointers.

"He was unstoppable," proud brother Markieff said afterward.

It marked the first time a Suns player produced at least 30 points and 10 boards off the bench since Danny Manning — one of his coaches at Kansas — had 35 points and 10 rebounds in November of 1997.

York wrote the explosion served as a confirmation of what many thought about Marcus’s potential.

More recently, the less heralded Morrii has scored in double figures in 7 of his last 8 games, including 5 straight outings — a first for him this season. In that 8-game stretch, he’s averaging 15.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists, and shooting 44.4% from the floor and 32.7% from 3-point range (just 50% from the foul line).

His playing time has increased of late due to some injury problems for the Suns, and Marcus hasn’t forgotten that with his contributions.

“It’s not really about me,” Morris told Suns.com. “It’s about what coach needs and what the team needs. We have a lot of talent on this team and we’re fighting to get into the playoffs.

“We all have to step our game up and stick together.”

Phoenix (38-36), which lost a critical matchup with Oklahoma City (42-32) Sunday night, currently sits outside of the playoff picture in the West, in 10th place. The Suns have lost 3 straight games and have just 8 games left to try and surpass both New Orleans (39-34) and the Thunder for the final postseason berth available.

“He’s been big for us,” Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said of Marcus. “With some of the guys injured, we’ve needed that boost in scoring and energy. He’s hit some big shots and starting to find a rhythm. He’s been one of the more consistent guys the last couple weeks and we’ll need that in these final (eight) games.”

Clearly, Hornacek respects Marcus, even if they had an in-game disagreement earlier this season.

Do the Suns have a run in them? Well, their end-of-season schedule is pretty brutal, featuring at least seven playoff teams and both regular-season conference champions.

Phoenix's final regular-season games are: at Portland (47-25), at Golden State (60-13), vs. Utah (32-41), at Atlanta (55-18), at Dallas (45-29), at New Orleans (39-34), at San Antonio (47-26) and vs. the Los Angeles Clippers (49-25).

If the Suns squeeze into the playoffs after that, the Morris twins' reputations will continue taking off.


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


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Fresh look at Morris twins’ journey to KU, NBA

Anyone with a passing interesting KU basketball has heard the story of the Morris twins.

There's Marcus and Markieff's unique bond on and off the court. The fact that they play for the same NBA team, the Phoenix Suns. The shared house, bank account and tattoos. And, of course, F.O.E.

Luckily, with the Morrii, there's always more. This week, SBNation.com posted a fresh, 10-minute look at the twins. The video includes interviews with the pair, their mother and their coaches — including "mean stepfather" Bill Self.

It's a fun watch, but Self's quotes about pushing the twins' buttons pushes it over the top:

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Marcus Morris loses cool, yells at Suns head coach

Phoenix Suns forwards Marcus Morris (15) and P.J. Tucker celebrate during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Phoenix Suns forwards Marcus Morris (15) and P.J. Tucker celebrate during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Well, now we know who the evil Morris twin is.

Because neither Marcus nor Markieff wears a sinister mustache, there used to be no way to tell.

The typically laid back twins who first teamed up at Kansas in college before reuniting in the NBA with Phoenix live together, get matching tattoos and spout the power of #FOE (family over everything). But Marcus lost his cool Wednesday night, during the Suns’ 113-111 win over Minnesota.

First, the 6-foot-9 forward got hit with a technical foul in the third quarter. Next, he took his anger with him to the bench, and was caught by ESPN’s cameras during an animated and intense back-and-forth with Phoenix head coach Jeff Hornacek.

The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro reported Marcus became agitated on the court when he got hit in the nose and no foul was called. He remained in that state during the ensuing timeout and when Hornacek didn’t side with him, Marcus started yelling at the coach while stating his case.

Eventually, Suns assistant Corey Gaines stepped in before the situation got any worse.

Coro reported Marcus settled things with Hornacek shortly after the game.

"It was heat of the moment," Marcus told the Arizona Republic. "Coach knows I've got a lot of respect for him. As soon as the game was over, I apologized to him and the team, especially the younger guys for them having to see that. I felt like I got hit in the nose and my nose was bleeding and he had took me out so I was really upset about it.

"When I apologized to Jeff, he said, 'You don't have to apologize.' He knows. He's been a player. I hate that it had to be televised like just because it seemed worse than what it was."

Marcus also took to Twitter to apologize publicly.

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The backup Morris finished the game with 8 points in 14 minutes. Starting brother Markieff scored 14.

Meanwhile, Timberwolve rookie Andrew Wiggins went for 25 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals, to go with 6 turnovers. The No. 1 overall pick hit 1 of his 4 3-point tries and just missed one that would’ve won the game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSW5QNmQFVA


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


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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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Markieff Morris a leading candidate for sixth man award

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) reacts to a three pointer against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) reacts to a three pointer against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Don't be surprised in a few weeks if you see the following phrase scroll across the bottom of your television screen or pop up on your social media feeds: Phoenix's Markieff Morris named NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

All season long, the Suns — expected by some to be one of the worst teams in the league — have surprised the rest of the Association. But it didn't take long for it to become abundantly clear their early-season success wasn't a fluke. Now Phoenix (46-31), fresh off a 122-115 home win over Oklahoma City on Sunday night, has a legit shot at claiming one of the final three playoff spots in the highly competitive Western Conference.

And Phoenix, the West's worst team last season, couldn't have made such a turnaround without Morris — averaging 13.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in 26.4 minutes a game off the bench.

Morris hasn't started a single game for the Suns all season. That's because first-year coach Jeff Hornacek can trust him to produce as a sub.

Ben York of Suns.com recently wrote a case could be made for Morris (Markieff, not twin brother Marcus, who also comes off the bench for Phoenix and averages 9.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 22.0 minutes) as the NBA's most valuable reserve.

In his third season, Markieff is having a career year. His best game, York points out, came in January against Cleveland:

Morris tallied 27 points and a season-high 15 rebounds off the bench to become the first player in the NBA since Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets on Nov. 21, 2002 to record at least 27 points and 15 rebounds in a game while coming off the bench.

His line was the first 27/15 by a Suns player since Amar’e Stoudemire on March 28, 2010, and he joins Stoudemire and Shawn Marion as the only Suns since 1998-99 to do so.

Those around the Phoenix organization aren't the only ones thinking Markieff could bring home some hardware, either.

At SheridanHoops.com, holds the at No. 1 spot in the sixth man rankings, followed by Chicago's Taj Gibson, Oklahoma Citys' Reggie Jackson, San Antonio's Manu Ginobili and Dallas' Vince Carter.


Henry's breakout season officially over

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, right, puts up a shot as San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter, left, of Brazil, and guard Patty Mills, of Australia, defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, right, puts up a shot as San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter, left, of Brazil, and guard Patty Mills, of Australia, defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Los Angeles Lakers (25-52) are so awful, there really isn't any reason for them to send hurt or worn down players out on the court.

They are lottery-bound, so the more losses, the better. In a move that should help facilitate as high a draft pick as possible, the Lakers announced Friday they're shutting Xavier Henry down for the remainder of the season.

Wrist and knee injuries suffered this season, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported, will keep Henry sidelined for the final few games of what had been a breakout season (10.0 points in 43 games).

Offseason procedures to help his right knee and left wrist are possible, Henry told Bresnahan.

"My body is going to continually hurt as long as I keep pounding it and pounding it. It's tough to play with."

The L.A. Times reporter also asked Henry about his future with the Lakers, because he will become a free agent in the offseason.

"I hope to be here. I hope they want me, but you never know."

As Shams Charania wrote for RealGM.com, Henry took on the challenge of playing while hurt late in the weeks leading up to L.A.'s move. Henry's decision to do gut it out for a while came in part because of what this season has meant to him.

“I just didn’t get the same opportunity and the same playing time in the past. I hurt myself early in my career … but I didn’t get the same kind of opportunities that I have now and I’m trying to make the most of every one that I get.”

Henry shot 41.7% from the field and 34.6% on 3-pointers this season with Los Angeles.


Mario Chalmers: 'I always wanted to be a Tar Heel'

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) goes up for a shot against New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) goes up for a shot against New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

With a little help from Kansas basketball hero Mario Chalmers, Miami seems on its way to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

In his last eight games, the sixth-year pro has outperformed his season averages, hitting 52% of his shots and producing 14.3 points and 4.0 rebounds, plus 4.0 assists (which is below his season average of 5.0).

Recently, Chalmers sat down for a Q & A with SLAM Magazine's Abe Schwadron. He talked about his upbringing in Alaska and also shared an interesting tidbit regarding his college recruitment:

"I wanted to go to North Carolina. I grew up a fan, my family is from North Carolina and I always wanted to be a Tar Heel. When the time came to make my decision, North Carolina didn’t offer me. So Kansas, I thought, was the best place for me to go out there and shine. I had a couple friends that I got close with during the recruiting visits. They made me feel at home, made me feel like a brother."

Of course, Chalmers capped his third year at Kansas by helping the Jayhawks win the 2008 national championship. He was asked to rank that accomplishment, compared to contributing to back-to-back NBA titles with the Heat.

"It’s up there. I’d say it’s a tie, really. In college, it’s one game, in the NBA, it was five games and then it was seven games. It’s different, but it still ranks the same in my book. Just the process of being there three years, and having to go from one year losing in the first round to losing in the Sweet 16 and then finally to win it. I just remember how much hard work we put in."

You can tell Chalmers doesn't regret his decision to play at KU. Look no further than what he posted on Instagram Monday: "6 years ago on this day we had a major accomplishment. Not only for ourselves and KU but for the entire city of Lawrence , Kansas. This is and will always be apart of me. ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS"


'Hawks in the NBA standings

We're now just nine days away from the last day of the 82-game regular season, so here's a look at where all of the NBA's Jayhawks stand in the hunt for the playoffs.

We'll rank the Kansas products according to their franchise's record.

No. 1 — Nick Collison/Oklahoma City (55-21)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched Northwest Division title/playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (53-23)

  • Currently No. 1 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (50-28)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 4 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (46-31)

  • Currently No. 8 seed in West, with one-game lead on Memphis

No. 5 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (45-32)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (42-34)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (40-37)

  • Currently No. 6 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (33-44)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 9 — Cole Aldrich/New York (33-45)

  • Currently No. 9 in East, two games behind Atlanta

No. 10 — Jeff Withey/New Orleans (32-45)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (27-50)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-52)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (24-53)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

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

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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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