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Jayhawks in the Playoffs guide

Congratulations. You survived the 82-game NBA regular season.

Well, even if you didn't, personally, six former Kansas University basketball players did. (Actually, if you want to get technical about it, one of those KU products was a free agent until February. But, hey, now he's in the playoffs.)

It's all right if you weren't checking the box scores every day or watching game highlights every morning on YouTube. Even if you paid absolutely no attention to the NBA from the last week of October to right now, it shouldn't be too difficult to get caught up with the playoff-bound former Jayhawks in our guide to the postseason.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 2 Miami vs. No. 7 Charlotte

Mario Chalmers

Season stats: 9.8 points | 2.9 rebounds | 4.9 assists | 45.4% FGs | 38.5% 3-pointers

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) drives on Charlotte Bobcats guard Kemba Walker during the first quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo.

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) drives on Charlotte Bobcats guard Kemba Walker during the first quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo.

You might want to sit down for this. As hard as it is to believe, the following statement is true. The two-time defending champion Miami Heat — you know, the team that has LeBron James — swept the Charlotte Bobcats in the regular season. Shocking, I know.

Interestingly enough, though, Miami only beat Charlotte by a point back on Dec. 1. Mario Chalmers scored 12 points and dished six assists in that one, and he averaged 8.3 points, 6.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 block against the Bobcats in the three games he played against them this season.

Chalmers only made 37.5% of his shots — almost a full eight points below his season field goal percentage of 45.5% — against Charlotte. But he found other ways to disrupt the Bobcats' defense.

As the good folks at stats.nba.com broke it down for us, Chalmers asserted himself on offense, looking to drive almost any time Charlotte's Kemba Walker tried to guard him: 13 drives in nearly 16 minutes of matching up with Walker. The former KU star drove past Ramon Sessions a few times, too — four drives in 5:16.

Of course, Chalmers is known more for his defense, and Walker (three drives in 12:06) and Sessions (one drive in 5:07) didn't have nearly as much success attacking him off the bounce.

This series, which figures to be a short one, begins Sunday at Miami.

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No. 3 Toronto vs. No. 6 Brooklyn

Paul Pierce

Season stats: 13.5 points | 4.6 rebounds | 2.4 assists | 45.1% FGs | 37.3% 3-pointers

Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) defends Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) in the first half of their NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) defends Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) in the first half of their NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The NBA Playoffs are nothing new for Paul Pierce, who has played in 136 games in 10 postseason appearances.

Pierce, who averages 20.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his postseason career, helped Boston qualify for the playoffs each of the previous six seasons — including a 26-game run to an NBA championship in 2008, when he was named NBA Finals MVP.

This spring, in his 16th NBA season, he'll try to bring that experience to a Brooklyn team that underperformed in November and December, but went 34-17 from January on.

Pierce played well against the Raptors this season, as the Nets split the season series, 2-2. The veteran small forward averaged 19.8 points a game against Toronto — more than he did against any team in the league except Miami (21.3 ppg). Toronto didn't have an answer for "The Truth," who made 56.1% of his shots in four meetings, while adding 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals.

He scored his season-high, 33 points, against the Raptors in a one-point Nets home loss on Jan. 27.

Defensively, don't be surprised if Nets coach Jason Kidd opts to use Pierce's size to defend Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry occasionally. In limited time defending Lowry, Pierce held him to 2-of-7 shooting, while Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston had issues bottling up Lowry, Toronto's second-leading scorer (17.9 points a game).

This first-round series, which could go the full seven games, begins early Saturday afternoon.

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No. 4 Chicago vs. No. 5 Washington

Kirk Hinrich

Season stats: 9.1 points | 2.6 rebounds | 3.9 assists | 39.13% FGs | 35.1% 3-pointers

VS.

Drew Gooden

Season stats: 8.3 points | 5.2 rebounds | 53.1% FGs | 41.2% 3-pointers [22 games]

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) eyes Washington Wizards point guard John Wall during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Washington, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. The Wizards won 96-93. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) eyes Washington Wizards point guard John Wall during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Washington, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. The Wizards won 96-93. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Of the eight first-round playoffs series, this is the only one in which two former Jayhawks will go head-to-head.

Hinrich and Gooden helped lead Kansas to a Final Four in 2002, and now they'll try to knock each other out of the postseason as role players.

The Bulls and Wizards only faced each other three times this season, and Washington won twice. However, the Wizards' second victory, a three-point win on Jan. 17, came right around the time Chicago began turning into one of the better teams in The Association. The Bulls are 25-12 since February, and beat Washington, 96-78, in D.C. just two weeks ago.

Hinrich, seen above flashing some wizardry of his own, averaged 12.3 points, 6.0 assists and 3.3 rebounds against Washington this season.

He'll spend a lot of this series matched up with one of the most entertaining and athletic young guards in the league, John Wall.

The 11th-year KU product held his own against Wall this season. Hinrich made 54% of his shots when guarded by Wall, while the budding D.C. superstar only converted 35% of his attempts against Hinrich.

Washington Wizards' Drew Gooden (90) dunks as Charlotte Bobcats' Kemba Walker (15) and Al Jefferson (25) watch during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, March 31, 2014. The Bobcats won 100-94. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Washington Wizards' Drew Gooden (90) dunks as Charlotte Bobcats' Kemba Walker (15) and Al Jefferson (25) watch during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, March 31, 2014. The Bobcats won 100-94. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Gooden could be the ultimate X-factor in this series. Because Washington picked him up as a free agent late in the season, the bearded power forward only played against Chicago once.

Earlier this month, the backup big man scored four points on 2-for-5 shooting and grabbed four rebounds in 22 minutes in Washington's home loss to the Bulls.

However, that's the only time in eight April games in which Gooden played more than 20 minutes. In fact, Washington coach Randy Wittman didn't play Gooden at all in two of the past four games.

By no coincidence, that drop-off in playing time coincided with the return of power forward Nene to D.C.'s lineup. But if Wittman wants to throw Chicago a curve ball, Gooden would gladly oblige and provide points and boards off the bench.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 2 Oklahoma City vs. No. 7 Memphis

Nick Collison

Season stats: 4.2 points | 3.6 rebounds | 1.3 assists | 55.6% FGs | 16.7 minutes

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) goes to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies forward Ed Davis (32) and center Marc Gasol (33), of Spain, in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey)

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) goes to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies forward Ed Davis (32) and center Marc Gasol (33), of Spain, in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey)

The Thunder won the season series with Memphis, 3-1, but backup power forward Nick Collison didn't have a lot to do with OKC's success.

Limited to 15.3 minutes a game versus the Grizzlies, Collison hit 43% of his shots and only scored 2.5 points a game, but chipped in with 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 block.

Still, expect Collison to contribute off the bench. In-depth statistics show he is one member of the Thunder's front court who is able to limit hefty Zach Randolph's productivity on the offensive glass.

The series begins Saturday night at Oklahoma City.

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No. 4 Houston vs. No. 7 Portland

Thomas Robinson

Season stats: 4.8 points | 4.4 rebounds | 48.1% FGs | 12.5 minutes

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson (41) drives to the basket past Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard (12) and Jeremy Lin (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Bob Levey)

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson (41) drives to the basket past Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard (12) and Jeremy Lin (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Bob Levey)

Houston beat Portland three out of four times in the regular season, but you couldn't blame Thomas Robinson for the Trail Blazers' struggles.

The second-year power forward barely got on the floor against his former team this season. A Portland reserve, Robinson averaged single-digit minutes against six teams this season, and Houston was one of them. The athletic 6-10 backup logged just 9.5 minutes versus the Rockets, scoring 2.3 points on 2-for-8 total shooting, while averaging 2.5 rebounds in limited action.

The two teams haven't met since March 9, and Robinson's minutes have been right at 14.3 a game in March and April, so he very well could play a bigger role in the playoffs after going scoreless in 11 minutes in a 118-113 Portland loss at Houston more than five weeks ago.

But that will be up to Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, and will be based upon how he thinks Robinson matches up with Rockets big men Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones and Omer Asik.

Even if Stotts tightens his rotation for the postseason, Robinson should be a part of the game plan off the bench.

A highly anticipated series, this one begins Sunday night in Houston.

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Tweetworthy

Noteworthy tweets about and from the 'Hawks in the NBA:

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None by Rod Boone

None by Xavier Henry

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None by Marcus Morris

None by Marcus Morris

None by Drew Gooden

None by Ben McLemore

Last game as a rook. Special thanks to all the fans in Sactown. Appreciate how good y'all been to me. #youngking #finishstrong #comebackstonger #sactown

Last game as a rook. Special thanks to all the fans in Sactown. Appreciate how good y'all been to me. #youngking #finishstrong #comebackstonger #sactown by youngsav23


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

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Jeff Withey finishing rookie season strong

New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey (5) tries to get around Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (8) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey (5) tries to get around Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (8) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Let's face it. Jeff Withey's transition to the NBA has had its down moments in his rookie season.

But as his first-year campaign reaches its final week, it appears the lean 7-foot center out of Kansas might be finding his way in New Orleans. While Withey's season averages of 3.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.9 minutes a game are about as exciting as a Utah vs. Milwaukee game, he has proven of late he can produce when given the opportunity.

In the rookie's last five games, he has played 20.5 minutes and averaged 9.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while hitting 78% of his shots. Seventy-eight!

Earlier this week, Darrell Williams wrote about how Withey's growth has pleased the Pelicans. The team's coach, Monty Williams, told the New Orleans Advocate Withey has helped offset some of the Pelicans' injury problems of late.

“Jeff has come a long way this season. He looks nothing like the guy we saw in training camp. He has worked hard. His body looks different, and he has made progress on the court working with (assistant coach) Kevin (Hanson).”

After developing into a hard-nosed defender of the rim at KU, Withey had to acclimate himself to playing in the paint in the NBA, where things can get rough.

“You don’t have to be big to be physical. Some of it definitely is that the game has slowed down for me now. I understand things a lot better.”

With New Orleans star Anthony Davis sitting out Wednesday due to back spasms, Withey tried to carry the team himself in a 94-88 Pelicans loss to Phoenix. Withey scored 17 points — a career high — and added a couple of rebounds, three assists and a block.

The backup center and his bench mates helped get New Orleans back in the game, John Reid wrote for The Times-Picayune. The rookie big man out of Kansas had this to say:

"We try to bring a spark to our team when its needed. We definitely played pretty well tonight.''

(Watch Withey's locker room interview at NOLA.com.)

New Orleans lost its sixth game in a row, but it was definitely Withey's night. If the numbers and highlights don't prove that, this GIF should.


Paul Pierce on verge of 25K points

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce is shown during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, April 8, 2014 in Miami. The Nets defeated the Heat 88-87. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce is shown during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, April 8, 2014 in Miami. The Nets defeated the Heat 88-87. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

After scoring 14 points to help Brooklyn complete a four-game season sweep of two-time defending champion Miami earlier this week, the man known as "The Truth" appeared in no hurry to reach a significant milestone.

Pierce sat out the Nets' loss at Orlando Wednesday due to a right hip pointer injury, even though he currently needs just five points to reach 25,000 for his career.

As Rod Boone of Newsday reported, the only active players who have put up that many points are Pierce's Brooklyn teammate Kevin Garnett, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki.

As Pierce closes in on the elite mark — only 17 players in the history of the NBA have scored 25,000 career points — it's probably safe to assume the former KU All-American is on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Players such as Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Adrian Dantley and Larry Bird never reached 25K — as pointed out in a SportsNetwork.com column.

Pierce could reach the landmark number as soon as Friday night against Atlanta. If not then, the Nets have three more regular-season dates in the coming week.

Brooklyn, which began the season looking woeful but now has a playoff spot in the East locked up, could be the final stop in Pierce's illustrious career. Speculation already has begun that he will re-sign with the Nets.


Thomas Robinson, teammates try to keep straight faces

Second-year power forward Thomas Robinson has made his share of incredible plays this season for Portland.

But there might be a new champion in the category of most remarkable YouTube clip starring the man known in Lawrence as T-Rob.

The 6-foot-10, powerful sub and a few of his teammates appeared on an episode of the IFC series Portlandia.

The show's stars, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, play a pair of feminist dance team coaches who try to give the Trail Blazers a pep talk after a loss.

In other words: This is amazing.

Robinson got to roll his eyes, shake his head and deliver a few of straight-faced lines. Not bad for an acting debut. (For a professional athlete.)


'Hawks in the NBA standings

Only six days remain in the 82-game marathon that is the 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 (57-21)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched Northwest Division title/playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (53-25)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (51-28)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 4 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (47-31)

  • Currently No. 7 seed in West

No. 5 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (46-32)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (43-35)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (40-38)

  • Currently No. 7 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (35-44)

  • 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 (32-46)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (27-52)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-53)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (24-54)

  • 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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Thomas Robinson making his mark in Portland

Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) scores against Minnesota Timberwolves' Gorgui Dieng (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. The Trail Blazers won 108-97. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) scores against Minnesota Timberwolves' Gorgui Dieng (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. The Trail Blazers won 108-97. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Drafted by Sacramento, then traded to Houston during his rookie year, second-year power forward Thomas Robinson finally feels at home in the NBA with his third team, the Portland Trail Blazers.

As Robinson told John Wilmes of bleacherreport.com, he has embraced his role as a key reserve, even when his minutes aren't substantial — he's averaging 4.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in 12.4 minutes for Portland (49-27), currently the fifth-best team in a stacked Western Conference.

The former Kansas star enjoys providing a spark off the Blazers' bench.

“Last year, I was trying to make my role, going out of my way to prove something. You want to show everyone you can do something, that you can do can do everything at first.”

“I’m a high-energy player, a defender, and an offensive rebounder. Not a scorer. I love who I am to this team, I wouldn’t change anything.”


Nick Collison, the next WWE superstar

During Oklahoma City's Thursday victory over San Antonio, which ended the Spurs' 19-game winning streak, Thunder power forward Nick Collison, known for his dirty work, added to his reputation as one of the NBA's tough guys.

The Spurs' Jeff Ayers accidentally elbowed Collison in the head late in the third quarter, creating a gash atop Collison's noggin. It looked more like Collison had been walloped with a steel chair in a WWE match.

When the blood began to pour down his face, the NBA twitterverse took a break from the entertaining showdown between two Western Conference powers to marvel at the bloodbath.

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As you can see in the video, the contact didn't look nearly as bad as the result.

The gritty backup big man played 13 minutes in the OKC victory, scoring four points, and didn't return to the game after suffering the cut.

The best part of the whole ordeal, Collison told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman, was that even though he needed staples in his head to stop the bleeding, it didn't feel all that bad.

“Really, I’m surprised it was bleeding. It hurt a little bit. It stung. But I saw blood coming down my nose so I knew I had to come out.”

"It was one of those ones that’s awesome because you get a ton of credibility from blood coming down your face. But it really wasn’t that big of a deal.”

After the game, Collison couldn't resist joking about the injury, via Instagram, saying: "I really shouldn't have popped that pimple in the game tonight. Sorry guys."


Kirk Hinrich likes the Windy City

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) drives against Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Atlanta. The Bulls won 105-92. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) drives against Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Atlanta. The Bulls won 105-92. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

Kirk Hinrich's two-year deal with Chicago runs out at the end of the season, but it sounds like he would prefer to remain with the Bulls going forward.

Before putting up 17 points and six assists in a Chicago win at Atlanta Wednesday, the 11th-year guard who has spent nine seasons with the Bulls told the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson there was a reason he signed with the franchise two summers ago, instead of taking more money to play in Milwaukee.

“I like it here. Obviously, returning home was a big factor in why I came back. I would like to stay here. But I don’t know what’s in their future plans. Right now, I’m just trying to enjoy it while I’m in it and take what comes later.”

"At this point of your career, you want to be on a team that is a good fit and has a chance to be a winner."

Despite the absence of Derrick Rose most of the season, the Bulls (43-32) currently sit in the No. 4 slot in the Eastern Conference, and could have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.


'Hawks in the NBA standings

We're now less than two weeks away from the end of the 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 (55-19)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (52-22)

  • Currently No. 1 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (49-27)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

No. 4 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (44-31)

  • Currently 9th in West, with the same record as No. 8 Memphis

No. 5 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (43-32)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (40-34)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (39-36)

  • Currently No. 6 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (33-42)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 9 — Jeff Withey/New Orleans (32-43)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 10 — Cole Aldrich/New York (33-43)

  • Currently No. 8 seed in East, 0.02 percentage points ahead of Atlanta

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (27-48)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-50)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (23-52)

  • 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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Mr. Confidence: Chalmers more comfortable than ever in Miami

Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers (15) drives around Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) during an NBA basketball game in Miami, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. (AP PhotoAlan Diaz)

Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers (15) drives around Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) during an NBA basketball game in Miami, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. (AP PhotoAlan Diaz)

Mario Chalmers never lacks in the confidence department when he steps foot on the basketball court.

So it should come as no surprise that the Miami Heat's complementary guard took his answer into another stratosphere when asked by Shandel Richardson of The Sun Sentinel to rank his current comfort level on the floor, from 1 to 10.

"It's at 1,000," Chalmers said. "Just being around these guys three or four years, it's really helped me a lot. I just know where to put the ball where they need it."


Those who watch the Heat on a day-to-day basis think this could be the best season of Chalmers' career — he averages 9.8 points and 5.1 assists while shooting 46.7% from the floor.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra spoke highly of Chalmers in Richardson's story, noting the sixth-year guard's ability to take on more responsibilities when the Heat are without key players, such as Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen or LeBron James.

"He's a capable playmaker. He's become a lot headier on which plays to make, whether he's facilitating, whether he's being aggressive or he's setting other people up. That takes experience … He's grown tremendously."


That's what playing in three straight NBA Finals and winning the last two league championships can do for a player.

And clearly the whole Heat roster has latched onto that level of swagger. Chalmers posted a photo of Miami's players decked out with WWE championship belts on his Instagram account — mchalmers15.

Apparently James hooked up the whole team with the wrestling-style hardware. Hopefully they won't resort to hitting opponents with steel chairs any time soon.


T-Rob block party

Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke, right, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke, right, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Does one highlight deserve its own section in a blog?

Well, this offering from Thomas Robinson might have deserved its own website.

In case you missed it — you know, the way Corey Brewer missed out on making it all the way to the rim once Robinson chased him down on Sunday in a Blazers victory — here is the denial that turned into a fast-break jam for Portland.

The monstrous block only made up a small portion of Robinson's dominant night off the bench, as he finished with 14 points and 18 boards in 33 minutes.

But, obviously, the media — including the Oregonian's Joe Freeman — wanted to talk with Robinson about the denial, which led set up a Wesley Matthews lob to Will Barton on the other end of the floor.

Robinson told reporters how it went down — and referenced a technical foul he earned for taunting Brewer after the alley-oop that sent the Portland fans into a frenzy.

“I just knew it was a timing thing,” Robinson said of his block. “I saw him on the break, I sized him up, and I went to go get it. I don’t know how to explain it. Adrenaline shot through me, I was hype, probably said a bunch of stuff. I don’t remember what I said.”


Robinson, who averages 4.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in his second season, had seen a jump in minutes with Portland All-Star forward Lamarcus Aldridge out due to a groin injury.

Unfortunately for the power forward from Kansas, he injured his knee in Portland's next game, against Denver, and is a game-time decision for a Wednesday night meeting with Brooklyn, reports Sean Meagher of The Oregonian.


Henry close to a return

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, left, battles Minnesota Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea for a loose ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, left, battles Minnesota Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea for a loose ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Xavier Henry hasn't played a basketball game in 2014, but that could soon change for the fourth-year guard out of Kansas.

Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported Henry, who was diagnosed with an abnormality of the lateral meniscus in his right knee, has been "ramping up his workouts" and could return to L.A.'s lineup within the next few days.

McMenamin asked Henry how his knee felt on Tuesday.

"No pain. It just feels good. Now that I'm getting to work out, I can get it strong without having to worry about it swelling up because it hasn't swelled up yet too bad. So, it's doing pretty well."


Henry, in the midst of a breakout season (10.1 points, 42.5% shooting) before suffering an injury the last week of December, told McMenamin he is past suffering a similar setback with his knee after missing almost two full months worth of games.


10 talk

A number of 'Hawks in the NBA tweeted out congratulations after Kansas earned a share of its 10th straight Big 12 title on Monday.

None by tyshawn taylor

None by Keef Morris

None by Mario Chalmers

None by Cole Aldrich

None by Xavier Henry

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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Family Over Everything (except dunks)

Forget “'Hawks in the NBA,” we’re renaming the blog “Dunks by 'Hawks over 'Hawks in the NBA.”

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

First, it was Xavier Henry welcoming Jeff Withey to the NBA. Now, it’s “little brother” Thomas Robinson taking it to big bros Marcus and Markieff Morris. I think we’ve found an exception to “Family Over Everything.”

Let’s face it, we’re living in an era of unprecedented Jayhawk-on-Jayhawk crime, and KU coach Bill Self isn’t doing anything to stop it. Might as well just turn on the tube, sit back and enjoy the show.


The rest of the T-Rob Show

Portland Trail Blazers power forward Thomas Robinson (41) drives to the basket during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, in Portland, Ore. The Blazers won the game 90-89. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

Portland Trail Blazers power forward Thomas Robinson (41) drives to the basket during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, in Portland, Ore. The Blazers won the game 90-89. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

Robinson’s Wednesday night was punctuated by the putback, but he did quite a bit more to help the Trail Blazers beat the Suns.

Robinson scored nine points and collected six rebounds with a block and a steal in 10 fourth-quarter minutes, and Portland outscored Phoenix 24-19 when T-Rob was on the floor. Not too shabby in a one-point victory.

Maybe more importantly, the first-year Blazer provided some of his trademark energy. From blazersedge.com:

"I don't know if there was one play (for Robinson)," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "It was just the whole energy at both ends of the floor, getting rebounds, getting out, obviously the dunk was a big play. The general feel for that stretch, I thought there was a stretch of (positive) momentum, the dunk was certainly part of it."


A couple other fun notes, with another hat-tip to Blazersedge:

  • Robinson hoisted a desperation, end-of-the-shot-clock, fadeaway three during the first quarter … and was fouled by Marcus Morris. A beautiful moment.
  • T-Rob missed two of those three free throws, though (and six of nine on the night, bringing his career average down to 52.3 percent through 120+ tries).
  • After Robinson missed five of his first seven foul shots, Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek went “Hack-a-T-Rob” in the fourth quarter and had the Suns intentionally put Robinson back on the line, where he made one and missed one.
  • And about that dunk...

Not just a dunk prop

Phoenix Suns power forward Markieff Morris (11), right, scores over the top of Denver Nuggets power forward Darrell Arthur (00) in the third quarter during an NBA basketball game on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Nuggets 114-93. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Phoenix Suns power forward Markieff Morris (11), right, scores over the top of Denver Nuggets power forward Darrell Arthur (00) in the third quarter during an NBA basketball game on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Nuggets 114-93. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Markieff Morris earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors with a fantastic four-game stretch good for 22.8 points (69.8 percent shooting), 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals. And even after playing under the weather and dropping an eight-point dud against the Blazers, Keef is fourth in the NBA in field-goal percentage (60.0 percent) and ninth in basketball’s all-encompassing P.E.R. stat (26.1).


Twin it to win it

San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, center, is boxed in by Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris, left, and Marcus Morris, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, center, is boxed in by Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris, left, and Marcus Morris, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Markieff and Marcus Morris have been a big part of the Phoenix Suns’ surprising 5-3 start. The twins have come off the bench together in all but one game this season (Markieff was suspended for the opener). In those seven games, Markieff’s played 199 total minutes and Marcus 155. They’ve shared the majority of that time (125 minutes or about 18 minutes a game). And over the last five games, the Suns’ bench has been the No. 2 scoring bench in the entire league and the best per minute.

Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek on Marcus and Markieff, from azcentral.com:

“They have been great together and great with the guys on the court,” Hornacek said. “It hasn’t been what we call ‘brother ball,’ where they just pass to each other. They just happen to be out there together now, playing the game.”


The twins are loving their success as reserves, too. From azcentral.com, again:

“This definitely works,” Marcus said. “We still play together. We’re both successful at what we’re doing. If I get a couple more buckets to fall, I’ll be right there where ‘Kieff’ is at. I don’t want to switch it up. We’re going so well. Why change something that’s going good? Just keep riding with it and hopefully ‘Kieff’ can fight for Sixth Man of the Year. I don’t see him going down from here because his confidence is real high.”

Cole Aldrich, cheerleader

Despite a desperate need for big bodies, the New York Knicks have played backup center Cole Aldrich just 10 total minutes and only three of their eight games this season. Cole’s not letting it affect his, um, enthusiasm for the game.

(And let’s never forget “Kung Fu Cole” from his time in OKC)


Quoteables

On Nick Collison, from DailyThunder.com’s Tyler Parker:

“I’d also mention he’s the Thunder’s best on ball defender in the post and his hedges are so pristine they should be featured in Southern Living.”


Markieff Morris, via the Arizona Republic:

“I heard the other day that I’m the skinniest power forward in the league,” Markieff said, referring to strength and conditioning coach Mike Elliott’s ribbing. “I might be the skinniest, but I’m damn sure not the weakest.”


On Ben McLemore, who started his first game Wednesday, via the Sacramento Bee:

“Sometimes you have to let a guy – kind of throw him out there a little bit – and let him learn from those mistakes and get those experiences under their belt,” (Kings coach Mike) Malone said. “The bottom line is experience is the best teacher, and for him being out there against All-Star-type players, that’s the only way he’s going to learn and get better.”


On Kirk Hinrich, via the Chicago Tribune:

As for the bragging rights after Kansas knocked off Duke, (Taj) Gibson said former Jayhawk Kirk Hinrich took it easy on former Blue Devils Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy and Luol Deng.

"He didn't really go too hard on them," Gibson said. "He's just so cocky when it comes to his school. He's in the corner all nonchalant like, 'Yeah.' He always thinks he doesn't have to say much because he just knows Kansas is always going to win."

Recent stats

Can’t get enough of your favorite Jayhawks in the NBA? Be on the lookout for our nightly “How former Jayhawks fared…” stat recaps. Look for them on the KUsports.com homepage or this nifty, bookmarkable landing page.

In case you’ve missed any, here are the past few days:

Thursday, Nov. 14

Wednesday, Nov. 13

Tuesday, Nov. 12

Monday, Nov. 11

And be sure to come back to the blog as we turn stodgy stats — Ben McLemore’s 1-for-8 Wednesday, for example — into something a little more exciting:

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