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Posts tagged with Thomas Robinson

Thomas Robinson goes for double-double in first career start

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, right, shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Greece, left, and center Zaza Pachulia, from Ukraine, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, right, shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Greece, left, and center Zaza Pachulia, from Ukraine, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Hold off on that missing person report for Thomas Robinson.

The Portland Trail Blazers gave their third-year forward a chance Wednesday night, and boy did he respond.

In the first start of the former Kansas star’s NBA career, Robinson went for a double-double (15 points, 16 rebounds) in 29 minutes of a 104-97 Portland win against Milwaukee.

Not only had the energetic 23-year-old power forward spent most of this season on the bench prior to Wednesday, he had barely seen the spotlight of the floor. In Robinson’s previous two appearances, he played nine minutes and three minutes. The Blazers (20-6) went through a nine-game stretch without playing him at all, and he had 15 DNP’s before his starting debut for one of the Western Conference’s top teams.

The people of Portlandia must’ve been looking forward to seeing more of Robinson, because the Moda Center crowd gave the 6-foot-10 power forward a standing ovation when he finally subbed out, following a 5-for-8 shooting performance from the floor.

For the first time in what had to seem like decades for Robinson, he had the freedom to fly around the court and play like he did so many times in a KU uniform. Alley-oops. Chasing down opponents to swat shots. Perfect examples of what he could be capable of in the league if he gives his team the consistency it is looking for.

As Jason Quick wrote for The Oregonian, Robinson became a starter because Robin Lopez is out for a month. What’s more, Portland coach Terry Stotts described the team’s center position as a fluid situation.

Quick’s feature on Robinson includes the still-young big man admitting he wasn’t prepared for the NBA entering his first year, and that led to his struggles — getting traded from Sacramento to Houston mid-season as a rookie, then being dealt to Portland before he began his second year.

"As far as basketball reputation, off the court reputation, it was just completely wrong. Not who I am,'' Robinson said. "And I've been trying to feel my way out of that ever since my rookie year.''

He impressed in his first start, and seems to have taken a major step in the right direction.

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None by Ben Golliver

None by Jason Quick

And Robinson wasn’t even about to pat himself on the back. After the game, he talked about his mistakes, such as missing 10 of 15 free throws, and allowing his man to score early.

“I’m not completely happy with that game, so I expect more out of myself.”

Where does Robinson go from here? It’s up to what he brings to the Portland rotation now that he’s got a chance to prove himself.


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


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2014-15 season outlook: Thomas Robinson

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, and nearly every other team played its opener by Wednesday, 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.

Thomas Robinson — Portland Trail Blazers

6-foot-10 Power forward | Third season

Los Angeles Lakers' Julius Randle, left, goes up for a shot against Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Ontario, Calif. The Lakers won 94-86. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles Lakers' Julius Randle, left, goes up for a shot against Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Ontario, Calif. The Lakers won 94-86. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

2013-14 numbers: 70 games | 12.5 minutes | 4.8 points | 4.4 rebounds | 48.1 FG% | 56.4 FT%

In his still young NBA career, Thomas Robinson has called three different franchises home. He could be changing zip codes again, bringing that number to four, by the time his fourth season rolls around.

Reports surfaced earlier this week — days before the start of the regular-season schedule — that Portland wouldn’t exercise its option on Robinson’s contract, choosing instead to let him become a free agent next summer.

Obviously, this made Robinson, a Trail Blazers backup who doesn’t typically get a ton of media attention, a popular interview on the eve of his team’s season opener. The Oregonian’s Jon Freeman detailed Robinson’s Tuesday Q & A, as reporters asked about his reaction to this personally disappointing news.

"It's a business. That's all you've got to understand,” Robinson said. “You've got to realize that it's bigger than you sometimes in this league. At the end of the day, it's just a business. So all I can do is keep working hard. I know I belong in this league, I know I'm a worthy player in this league. I actually think I'm above average if I had the chance. But, like I said, it's all about just working and understanding that it's a business. You can't take nothing personal.”

While this move by Portland could be some incentive for Robinson to prove himself and earn that next contract (maybe from the Blazers) in the months ahead, it also could be a sign the organization isn’t interested in keeping him in its future plans. One could also speculate this decision makes Robinson a more valuable trading chip, because many teams tend to look for expiring contracts that will help them free up salary cap space for the summer.

So Portland figures to have some suitors if it decides to flip Robinson’s contract in a move to brings in some sort of proven veteran(s) that will help the team advance past the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Although Robinson can play above the rim on both ends of the floor, it seems the Blazers’ frontcourt depth (LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez, Chris Kaman) makes him the odd man out when it comes to significant playing time.

In Portland’s season debut Wednesday night, a 106-89 win over Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City, Robinson played just two minutes. That’s not a good sign for the free-agent-to-be.

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

Either he finds something within himself to make Portland take notice and give him more minutes, the Blazers try to move him or they keep him around to let his contract come off the books just in time to re-sign Aldridge next July.

Robinson has the athleticism to be an impact energy guy off the bench in the NBA. This season could determine his value, not only in Portland (one of the better teams in the West), but also around the league, for years to come.


’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

Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris — Suns

Paul Pierce — Wizards


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Las Vegas a showcase for Andrew Wiggins, other KU products

Houston Rockets’ Tarik Black, right, tries to shoot over Philadelphia 76ers’ Nerlens Noel in an NBA summer-league game, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Orlando, Florida.

Houston Rockets’ Tarik Black, right, tries to shoot over Philadelphia 76ers’ Nerlens Noel in an NBA summer-league game, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Orlando, Florida.

While Las Vegas became the center of the NBA universe this week, thanks to the arrival of the most sought after free agent on the planet, LeBron James, it will remain the league's epicenter for the next 11 days as far less known players try to make names for themselves.

The Vegas summer league opens Friday, and between now and July 21, seven former Kansas University players will be in uniform — some just trying to work on their games and become valuable pieces for their franchises, others hoping to impress the right decision-makers enough to land contracts.

Cleveland's No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, rookie Andrew Wiggins, highlights the Jayhawks playing in Sin City. The explosive 19-year-old wing gets his first taste of the league at 7 p.m. (CST) Friday against Milwaukee and No. 2 pick Duke's Jabari Parker.

Wiggins sat down for a video interview with Fred McLeod, of the Cavs' website, and said he already is getting comfortable with his summer league teammates.

"I'm settling (in) pretty good," the one-and-done KU product said. "Coming in as a rookie, you know, there's a lot of new plays thrown at you. You just kind of have to get situated and feel comfortable — if you have any questions, ask questions. You really don't know the offense too well, so you've just got to learn."

McLeod asked whether Wiggins had to "flush out" the offensive sets he learned at Kansas and "learn from scratch." Wiggins said that wasn't the case. Rather he needed to familiarize himself with the intricacies of plays — where to dribble, when to look for a hand-off, knowing where to find back-door cutters.

"Some things from Kansas really translated to the next level," Wiggins said. "But also, there's a lot of new things I'm learning here, too."

The Cavs have made it clear they expect the 6-foot-8 rookie with a 7-foot wingspan to impact the game on defense immediately. Wiggins said his interest in that aspect of the game first materialized when he was in elementary school.

"I just always liked to defend," he said. "You know, my father (former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins) always told me that defense will bring you far. So that's always something I try to key in on."

Offensively, of course, the young skywalker admitted running the floor in transition is what he's best at right now.

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Mostly, Wiggins said first-year Cleveland coach David Blatt wants to see him and his teammates play with effort.

"He's not gonna take us out for missing shots," the former Jayhawk said. "He's gonna take us out for not bringing energy, not working hard."

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A year ago, as a rookie, Jeff Withey didn't know what to expect out of the summer league, or the NBA in general. This time around, the 7-footer told media at New Orleans' mini-camp, he has a much different outlook.

"I'm definitely a lot more comfortable," the Pelicans big man said in a video on the team's website. "I felt like I ended the season pretty confidently and I'm just trying to bring that into summer league. It's not as stressful for me, just because I know I'm under contract, I know that I have a year underneath my belt, so I know kind of what to expect. Last year was kind of a little frantic and (I was) kind of just worried about everything. Now I get to sit back and actually just play."

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With one more year of NBA experience than his former KU cohort Withey, Portland's Thomas Robinson said, individually, his offseason will be about improving his mid-range ability and developing go-to moves in the post.

"Other than that, just being smarter with the basketball — being able to read things before they happen and stuff like that," the 6-foot-10 power forward told the Trail Blazers' website.

What's more, Robinson said he just feels happier and more confident now as a player.

"I'm in a good place right now," he added, "so I plan to stay here."

Unrestricted free agent Cole Aldrich has played four years in the league and he'll suit up in Vegas with New York, the franchise that signed him to a one-year deal late last September, a little more than a month before the start of the season. The 6-11 center told the Journal-World he wants to re-sign with the Knicks. These summer league games could make that happen.

"This summer is a little different than last summer," Aldrich said earlier this week. "I think things this summer will get done quicker. Last summer was wait, wait, wait."

The other former Jayhawks playing in Las Vegas are: Tarik Black (Houston), Elijah Johnson (Philadelphia) and Ben McLemore (Sacramento). Like Aldrich, Black, Little and Johnson are not under contract with a franchise. Black also played for Houston in the Orlando summer league, where he had 11 points, five rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in 21 minutes on Thursday.


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Pre-game surprise rattles Thomas Robinson

Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) reacts after he was called for a foul against San Antonio Spurs' Tiago Splitter, right, of Brazil, during the second half of Game 2 of a Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 114-97. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) reacts after he was called for a foul against San Antonio Spurs' Tiago Splitter, right, of Brazil, during the second half of Game 2 of a Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 114-97. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

You think Thomas Robinson looks upset in the above photo from Portland's 114-97 Game 2 loss at San Antonio Thursday night?

If only cameras had been in the locker room before the game.

That's when Robinson ran into something far scarier than Tim Duncan. He saw a snake in his locker-room stall.

Joel Odom of The Oregonian got the details from Robinson himself.

"It took a couple minutes for everybody to believe me. 'There’s a snake in my locker.' But everybody thought I was playing, until they came over and looked for ourselves. And then he told us to get away from it, it was a rattlesnake. "

Robinson's initial reaction?

"I screamed, jumped, yelled, all that."

His teammate, Mo Williams, seemed braver than the other Blazers in the locker room at the time. He posted a photo of the rattler to Instagram.

We get in the lockerroom n its a damn snake, yea a snake in the lockerroom. Man we was scared as hell

We get in the lockerroom n its a damn snake, yea a snake in the lockerroom. Man we was scared as hell by mogotti25

Reporters asked Robinson after the fact what the snake looked like, and he had the perfect description:

"Black and white. Spurs."

Robinson went on to score two points and grab two rebounds in 14 minutes after the pre-game scare. Portland, down 2-0 in the series, plays host to San Antonio on Saturday (9:30 p.m., ESPN).


Chalmers a steady component for Miami

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) shoots over Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams (8), Joe Johnson (7), Paul Pierce (34) and Kevin Garnett (2) in the first half of Game 1 in an Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) shoots over Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams (8), Joe Johnson (7), Paul Pierce (34) and Kevin Garnett (2) in the first half of Game 1 in an Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

In the Jayhawk vs. Jayhawk Eastern Conference semifinals — also known as Brooklyn vs. Miami — Mario Chalmers' Heat put Paul Pierce's Nets in a 2-0 hole Thursday with a 94-82 victory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh-C5UtzLCg

Though Chalmers (11 points, 5 assists) was outscored by Pierce (13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists), Miami's sixth-year guard has to be feeling better about his team's chances of moving on to the conference finals — especially with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on his side.

Chalmers doesn't have the name power of the Heat's Big Three, but he has been in the starting lineup in every game he's played during the previous three regular seasons for the back-to-back NBA champions.

Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel wrote about Chalmers' consistency following Game 2 of the series. His biggest accomplishment in this one might have been his role in holding Nets guard Deron Williams scoreless (0-for-9 in 37 minutes).

"I just provide all I can for my teammates. My main focus this year was just being a consistent player. I think I've done a pretty good job with that. My teammates trusted me. The coaching staff trusted in me."

Bosh said the Heat need Chalmers in that role, and appreciate what he brings.

"When Rio is playing well, we're tough to beat. He's just that fourth or fifth guy who you can't leave. When he's controlling his tempo, doing his job, making open shots, it's really all uphill for us."

Game 3 is Saturday at Brooklyn (7 p.m., ABC).


McLemore planning on busy offseason

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) slam dunks in front of New Orleans Pelicans guard Anthony Morrow (3) and forward Darius Miller (2) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, March 31, 2014. The Kings won 102-97. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) slam dunks in front of New Orleans Pelicans guard Anthony Morrow (3) and forward Darius Miller (2) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, March 31, 2014. The Kings won 102-97. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The 2014 NBA Playoffs are in full effect as eight of the league's 30 teams still have dreams of hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy come June.

For most of the league, though, it's already summertime.

Trying to reach the playoffs himself one day, Sacramento shooting guard Ben McLemore hasn't stopped working on his game while returning to Lawrence, where he played one season for Kansas.

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But he's also in town to get in some off-court work, toward completing his degree.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-rDGbVdv9w

McLemore, drafted seventh by the Kings last summer, didn't receive any votes for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award, won by Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams, the 11th overall pick in 2013.

Sacramento general manager Pete D'Alessandro addressed the 21-year-old shooting guard's first season — 82 games, 55 starts, 8.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 37.6% shooting, 32% from 3-point range — in a recent Q & A.

“I think Ben had a very common rookie year. His performance is something we see a lot from guys like him. I think we saw it early on and he stepped up quickly and played well, hit somewhat of a wall and now you see later on he’s getting there. If you took the beginning and end of this season and put them together, you’d look at him and go, ‘Hey, those are pretty decent looking numbers.’ I think it’s common when you have a young guy who’s played a year of college and steps into that starting position. It’s a lot to ask. We have three high-scoring pieces on a team. How do you step up and be that fourth guy? It’s tough."

To D'Alessandro's point, McLemore's numbers fluctuated throughout his first year:

• November: 9.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 39.3% FGs, 36.4% 3s in 23.2 minutes

• December: 8.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 37.6% FGs, 35.1% 3s in 28.2 minutes

• January: 5.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 35.1% FGs, 29.3% 3s in 19.7 minutes

• February: 6.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 30.1% FGs, 23.5% 3s in 25.1 minutes

• March: 10.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 42.7% FGs, 32.8% 3s in 31.4 minutes

• April: 13.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 39.1% FGs, 31.6% 3s in 37.3 minutes

The rookie's confidence began growing late in the season, after Sacramento traded away Marcus Thornton, and re-inserted McLemore into the starting lineup.

D'Alessandro, it seems from the Q & A, remains impressed with McLemore — even if he didn't have the kind of rookie year Carter-Williams or Orlando's Victor Oladipo (the No. 2 overall pick) did.

“I’ve said this from the beginning of the year, the guy works like no other young guy works. He and Ray (McCallum, another 2013-14 rookie) together, I really give them a lot of credit for their work ethic. If you have talent, athleticism, and that work ethic – which he does – I think it’s a recipe for success. I really look forward to what has yet to come for him. I’ve been very happy with Ben. I’ve said it all year long, and I stand by it.”

Clearly that work ethic is already being put to use. In a quote from CowbellKingdom.com, the young guard described how the 82-game grind of his first NBA season shaped his plan of attack going forward.

“Just coming in the league, I’ve seen so much playing against these different type of caliber guys every night, just seeing what I need to work on. It definitely helped me (realize), ‘Ok, I need to work on this, this summer.’”


Markieff Morris snubbed in Sixth Man voting?

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) drives as Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph (50) and Tayshaun Prince (21) defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Phoenix. The Grizzlies won 97-91. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) drives as Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph (50) and Tayshaun Prince (21) defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Phoenix. The Grizzlies won 97-91. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Once the NBA announced Los Angeles Clippers gaurd Jamal Crawford as the 2013-14 Sixth Man of the Year, it didn't take long for someone to pose the question: Why not Markieff Morris?

That someone was Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic, who covers the Phoenix Suns and used his ballot to vote Morris as the league's top reserve.

Coro's case against Crawford stems from the fact he started 24 games for the Clippers in the regular season, and the Suns beat writer said Morris or Chicago's Taj Gibson were more deserving.

Morris had plenty going for him, and Coro provides the evidence. Among bench players (the 6-foot-10 power forward served as a backup in all 81 games he played), Morris scored the most points (1,115) had the most double-doubles (11), was fourth in rebounds per game (6.0), fifth in points per game (13.8), sixth in field-goal percentage (48.6), and even seventh in steals per game (0.85).


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

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Chalmers, Miami take Game 1 vs. Pierce, Brooklyn

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) drives to the basket as Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams (8) defends in the first half of Game 1 in an Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) drives to the basket as Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams (8) defends in the first half of Game 1 in an Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Arguably the two most successful 'Hawks in the NBA, Miami's Mario Chalmers and Brooklyn's Paul Pierce will be seeing a lot of each other in the coming days.

Chalmers and the Heat took a step toward the Eastern Conference finals by beating Pierce and the Nets, 107-86, Tuesday night in Miami.

Chalmers hit 5 of his 9 shots for 12 points in Game 1, while Pierce went 3-for-8 and scored 8 points.

The outcome and low point total for Pierce proved the playoffs are a lot different than the regular season — he averaged 21.3 points and the Nets swept Miami in four pre-playoffs meetings.

Of course, the 16-year veteran has been through enough grinding postseason series to know even a 21-point loss doesn't guarantee Miami anything. As Andrew Keh quoted Pierce for The New York Times:

“It was a 3-point game at the half, fellas. I mean, we’re not overreacting. We feel like we still can get a game in this building.”

And that came following a game in which Pierce only scored two points after the first quarter, with LeBron James often defending him in the second half. So don't expect confidence to be an issue in the Brooklyn locker room.

Miami fans, who grew to dislike Pierce when he played for Boston, aren't too fond of him in a Brooklyn uniform, either. Plus, colliding with Chalmers and sending his fellow KU product to the floor with a thud in Game 1 didn't win him any popularity points.

Game 2 of Nets-Heat tips off at 6 p.m. Thursday at Miami (on TNT).


The reemergence of Drew Gooden

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden (90) celebrates after a play with Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) nearby in the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, March 28, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 91-78. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden (90) celebrates after a play with Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) nearby in the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, March 28, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 91-78. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Someone forgot to tell Drew Gooden this isn't 2005. The 12th-year power forward isn't supposed to be able to sub in and produce a double-double, no problem. But that's just what Gooden did in Game 1 of Washington's second-round playoff series with Indiana on Monday.

In the Wizards' five first-round games against Chicago, Gooden played five minutes or less in four games, earning a DNP-coach's decision in the series finale. He scored all of two points in 26 minutes of floor time in Game 4.

So Gooden was the last guy in a D.C. uniform anyone expected 12 points and 13 rebounds out of in Game 1 at Indiana. Anyone not named Drew Gooden, that is. The 6-foot-10 Kansas product put up his first double-double since March 21 while playing 18 minutes in Washington's 102-96 victory over the East's top seed, the Pacers. What's more, most of his timely jumpers and tip-ins came in the second half, when Washington needed them.

Playing for his 10th NBA team, Gooden's stat line looked far better than those of Indiana big men Roy Hibbert (zero points, no rebounds), Ian Mahinmi (2 points, zero boards) and Luis Scola (12 points, five rebounds).

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The Washington Post's Michael Lee wrote about how Gooden, out of the NBA most of the 2013-14 regular season, kept his hopes up and stayed in shape before Washington picked him up in late February and then embraced his opportunity in D.C.

Wizards starting center Marcin Gortat told Lee Gooden changed Game 1.

“Thanks to him, obviously, we got this win. It was all about Drew Gooden. He was just outstanding. I guess they just underestimated this guy and, you know, he brought it. He’s a veteran. He’s a talented guy and you know, he knows how to put himself in the position to rebound the ball, and his timing today was very good.”

The 32-year-old Gooden, Lee pointed out, became the first player since the inception of the shot clock to have at least 12 points and 13 rebounds in only 18 minutes. After his critical playoff performance, the substitute big man couldn't believe that nugget.

“That’s a wow to me, because I know it’s been a lot of better players, a lot of greats that had that opportunity but to throw Drew Gooden in that mix, I’m flattered.”

We'll find out if Gooden can continue his role as the X-factor in the series when Game 2 tips off Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in Indiana (on TNT).


Tweetworthy

Noteworthy tweets (or Instagram posts) from and about the 'Hawks in the NBA:

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None by Cole Aldrich

Congratulations @easymoneysniper on winning MVP. Thank you for all you do.

Congratulations @easymoneysniper on winning MVP. Thank you for all you do. by nicholascollison


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On to the next round: Pierce, Chalmers, other Jayhawks advance in playoffs

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) reacts with teammate Andray Blatche, right, after defeating the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of the opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Toronto, Sunday, May 4, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) reacts with teammate Andray Blatche, right, after defeating the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of the opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Toronto, Sunday, May 4, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

During the first round of the NBA Playoffs, the narrative moved back and forth regarding how much Brooklyn needed veteran small forward Paul Pierce in crunch time.

In his 16th season out of Kansas, Pierce only scored 10 points in 25 minutes in Sunday's Game 7 at Toronto, but he made one of the top defensive plays of the postseason so far in the final seconds, blocking Raptors guard Kyle Lowry in the paint. His blocked shot sealed a 104-103 Brooklyn victory, and saved the Nets' postseason.

None by Stefan Bondy

If Lowry's shot had dropped through the net, Toronto would have moved on to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Instead, it will be Pierce and the Nets taking on back-to-back NBA champion Miami in the next round.

Newsday's Rod Boone and the rest of the media on hand spoke with an elated Pierce after the thrilling Game 7 win. The Truth was asked if he had ever swatted a shot to win a game.

"Nah, I don't think at this magnitude. On the road. Game 7. You're playing for your lives and you've got to sell out for your team.

"I really didn't have a great offensive game. I was in foul trouble most of the night and sometimes you've got to find ways to help your ball club win.

"I saw him go up, I went up with him, got my hand on the ball. Game over."

Pierce didn't make a basket in the fourth quarter, but he proved yet again he can still come through in crunch time.


On to the next round

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) exchanges words with Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce during an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, in New York. Brooklyn won 101-100. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) exchanges words with Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce during an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, in New York. Brooklyn won 101-100. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Pierce wasn't the only former Jayhawk to move on to the second round of the NBA Playoffs. In fact, his Nets will be up against another KU product, the Heat's Mario Chalmers, in the East semis.

Miami is one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals, but Brooklyn swept the Heat in the regular season, so this could be a long, exciting series with the Nets trying to knock out the defending champions.

After disposing of Toronto, Pierce told reporters the Nets know taking on LeBron James and the Heat will be quite a challenge. Here is what Pierce said in Lang Whitaker's preview for NBA.com:

"When you play against the best, as a competitor, you want those moments. If you look at all the great competitors in this league, they want to play against the other best [players], to see where they are, to see how they measure up throughout history. When you play against the best like LeBron, it brings out the best in I think everyone. I think that's in any sport, when you're a great competitor. And I consider myself a great competitor, who wants to be in those moments, who wants to play against who people call the best."

That mentality showed during the regular season, when Pierce averaged 21.3 points in Brooklyn's four wins versus the Heat — he didn't average 20 or more points against any other team in the league this year. Pierce hit 55.3% of his shots against Miami, 45% of his 3-pointers, and averaged 4.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

Chalmers, meanwhile, only played in three of the Heat-Nets games, and averaged 11.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He shot 40.7% from the floor, and did most of his damage from long range, drilling 57.1% of his 3's vs. Brooklyn.

Game 1 of Brooklyn vs. Miami is set for Tuesday night (6 p.m., TNT).

Among the rest of the 'Hawks in the NBA lucky enough to make it to the playoffs, only Chicago's Kirk Hinrich didn't move on to the second round.

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The Bulls were ousted by Washington, home of former KU power forward Drew Gooden. Though he only played 9.0 minutes a game in the first round and didn't even get off the bench in the Wizards' Game 5 victory, the typically jovial Gooden is looking forward to Washington's upcoming series with top seed Indiana.

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Gooden, a late-season acquisition in D.C., only faced the Pacers once this season, and had three points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of a Washington win on March 28. Indiana won the two previous regular-season matchups.

Game 1 of Wizards-Pacers tips off at 6 p.m. Monday (TNT).

Oklahoma City backup big man Nick Collison might only be a role player, but he's about to take part in what figures to be one of the most entertaining series of the playoffs as the Thunder take on the Los Angeles Clippers.

OKC and the Clippers split four regular-season encounters, in which Collison averaged 3.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 15.8 minutes. Expect Collison to score easy baskets against the Clips, because he made 6 of the 7 shots he took against them this season.

The first game of Clippers-Thunder begins at 8:30 p.m. Monday (TNT).

For Thomas Robinson's season to continue on into the conference finals, his Portland Trail Blazers will have to oust always steady No. 1 seed San Antonio, the defending Western Conference champions.

The Spurs won the last two meetings with Portland to even the season series at 2-2.

Robinson played 13.3 minutes a game against San Antonio this season, averaging 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds.

Game 1 of Blazers-Spurs tips off at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday (TNT).


Vaughn part of Magic's plan

Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, left, talks to Orlando Magic's Jameer Nelson in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. The Grizzlies defeated the Magic 94-85. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, left, talks to Orlando Magic's Jameer Nelson in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. The Grizzlies defeated the Magic 94-85. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Orlando (23-59) didn't come close to making the playoffs. But that really wasn't part of the organization's master plan.

Another key part of the blue print: keeping head coach Jacque Vaughn in place.

The Magic extended the former KU point guard's contract through the 2015-16 season, as reported by Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

Robbins wrote that Vaughn, hired in the summer of 2012, has been patient as the franchise implemented a plan of rebuilding through the draft.

Vaughn started his head-coaching career with a 12-13 record. Since then, however, the Magic have posted a 31-108 record.

According to the report, Magic CEO Alex Martins and general manager Rob Hennigan have appreciated Vaughn's ability to build working relationships with players and "for maintaining an even keel despite the losing."

Vaughn and Orlando will find out May 20 at the NBA Draft Lottery just how useful the latest season of losing will be for the team's longterm success.


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Paul Pierce still doing playoff damage at 36

Toronto Raptors' Greivis Vasquez defends Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce (34) during the second half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Friday, April 25, 2014, in New York. The Nets won 102-98. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Toronto Raptors' Greivis Vasquez defends Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce (34) during the second half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Friday, April 25, 2014, in New York. The Nets won 102-98. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

He may not be flashy, his offense might not always be pretty, but it's hard to argue with results. Enjoying the most productive postseason among 'Hawks in the NBA, Paul Pierce, at 36, is still the best former Kansas player in the league.

A little more than a week into the NBA Playoffs, none of the other former Jayhawks chasing an NBA title have played as big a role for their team as Pierce has for Brooklyn.

Here's a look at the playoff averages for the six former Jayhawks in the hunt:

Paul Pierce, Brooklyn: 15.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 46.8% FGs, 31.4 minutes — Brooklyn tied with Toronto, 2-2

Kirk Hinrich, Chicago: 9.8 points, 4.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 steal, 37.8% FGs, 31.9 minutes (age: 33) — Chicago trails Washington, 3-1

Mario Chalmers, Miami: 8.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 42.9% FGs, 50% 3s, 27.2 minutes (age: 27) — Miami leads Charlotte, 3-0

Nick Collison, Oklahoma City: 2.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 block, 40% FGs, 15.4 minutes (age: 33) — Oklahoma City tied with Memphis, 2-2

Thomas Robinson, Portland: 2.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 50% FGs, 8.2 minutes (age: 23) — Portland leads Houston, 3-1

Drew Gooden, Washington: 0.5 points, 0.8 rebounds, 25% FGs, 9.0 minutes (age: 32) — Washington leads Chicago, 3-1

Now in his 16th season, Pierce put up 22 points and hit 9 of 14 shots Sunday in Game 4 against Toronto.

The cagy head fakes and moves that kept Pierce's offense flowing all evening weren't enough for a Nets victory, though. The Raptors won, 87-79, because Pierce's layup with 6:12 to go was Brooklyn's last field goal of the game.

As Rod Boone wrote for Newsday, the Nets missed their last six shots and went turnover-crazy. Pierce knew they only had themselves to blame:

"I think a lot of it was on us, our execution, our turnovers. A combination of our turnovers and our lack of execution really did us in."

With his team now tied with Toronto, 2-2, in the best-of-seven series, Pierce told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News the Nets are capable of far better.

“You get in a playoff situation, one guy or two to three guys want to do it on their own instead of just running the offense, executing. I think we got caught up into that. When we learn our plays, we’ve got movement, we seem to score most of the time, but I just think we got out of our offense and that can’t happen in the playoffs. It’s got to come down to execution. You can’t have turnovers, especially in the fourth quarter.”

Unfortunately for the players and coaches around the league, there was more to discuss than the playoffs this weekend. A veteran leader on and off the court, Pierce also spoke about the alleged racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

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Gooden wisdom

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) shoots under pressure from Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden (90) during the first half of Game 4 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Washington, Sunday, April 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) shoots under pressure from Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden (90) during the first half of Game 4 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Washington, Sunday, April 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

With starting big man Nene suspended for Game 4, Washington gave veteran power forward Gooden 26 minutes of court time Sunday against Chicago.

It didn't translate into much production — two points, two rebounds — but Washington won, 98-89, to put the No. 4 seed Bulls in a 3-1 hole, and on the brink of elimination.

Still, Gooden had some wise words to share with Michael Lee of the Washington Post, regarding Game 5, Tuesday at Chicago (7 p.m., TNT).

“It’s an old saying: ‘Once satisfied, all forward progress ceases.’ So we don’t want to come in here satisfied with just three wins. We want to go in there and go for the jugular."

That wasn't the 12th-year pro's only line.

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Always entertaining, Gooden couldn't let himself off too easy for his stat line, either.

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Another Robinson denial

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) put sup a shot against Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) during the first half in Game 2 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) put sup a shot against Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) during the first half in Game 2 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

You can count on a couple of things in the first-round series between Portland and Houston.

First of all, each game will be entertaining (three of the four so far have gone to overtime). Secondly, Robinson will come off the bench and deny some Rocket at the rim.

Though the second-year power forward has played sparingly for the Trail Blazers, Robinson has delivered a highlight-worthy blocked shot four times in the series — Portland leads, 3-1.

On Sunday, he blocked Dwight Howard on an alley-oop attempt.

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Game 5 is 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Houston (TNT).


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Mario Chalmers plays through pain

Charlotte Bobcats' Kemba Walker, left, tries to gain control of the ball as Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) defends during the second half in Game 2 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Bobcats 101-97. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Charlotte Bobcats' Kemba Walker, left, tries to gain control of the ball as Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) defends during the second half in Game 2 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Bobcats 101-97. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

On Wednesday, the Miami Heat coaching staff didn't know whether Mario Chalmers would be able to play in Game 2 of the Heat's playoff series with Charlotte, due to an injured right shin.

After getting the start in a game-time decision, It took just less than six minutes in the first quarter for Chalmers to put coaches, teammates and Heat fans at ease with nine of Miami's 11 points.

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George Richards chronicled Chalmers' white-hot start for the Miami Herald. Heat coach Eric Spoelstra only knew before the game that his starting point guard would warm up with the intention of playing.

“He was sharp. He gave us a lift in the first quarter.’’

Chalmers, who made both of his three-pointers (he went 2-for-4) in the first quarter and finished with 11 points (all in the first half), three assists and two rebounds, slowed down somewhat as the game went on. But the sixth-year guard out of Kansas said he wanted to bring energy to the opening minutes.

“It was nothing major but I need to find a way to keep my shin loose. I was going to do what I could do."

The sooner Chalmers gets back to 100 percent, the better for Miami. Along with defense and ball handling, the role-playing point guard who has teamed up with stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh since 2010 is a knock-down three-point marksman from the corners.

Check out Chalmers' shot chart from this past regular season:

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers' shot chart for the 2013-14 NBA regular season. 
Green = Above league average for that area of the floor
Yellow = Comparable to league average
Red = Below league average

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers' shot chart for the 2013-14 NBA regular season. Green = Above league average for that area of the floor Yellow = Comparable to league average Red = Below league average

With the Heat up 2-0 in the first-round series, Game 3 is Saturday at Charlotte (6 p.m. on ESPN).

• #TBT: A two-time NBA champion and an NCAA champion, Chalmers has made more trips to the White House than your average American citizen.

On Thursday — or throwback Thursday, as it's known in the world of social media — Chalmers shared an old photo from 2008, when the Jayhawks visited D.C. to be honored for their title.

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#tbt my first trip to the White House after winning the national championship. The homies @brush_25 Russ rob cole @cjourney86 and shady

#tbt my first trip to the White House after winning the national championship. The homies @brush_25 Russ rob cole @cjourney86 and shady by mchalmers15

Three out of four of his teammates in the photo, like Chalmers, are in the NBA: Darrell Arthur (Denver), Brandon Rush (Utah) and Cole Aldrich (New York). Russell Robinson has played in the D-League and overseas since leaving KU.


No hard feelings for Robinson

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) has his shot blocked by Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) during the first half in Game 2 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) has his shot blocked by Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) during the first half in Game 2 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Second-year power forward Thomas Robinson might not be a critical part of Portland's game plan in its first-round series with Houston, but he is happy to be a Trail Blazer after splitting his rookie season with Sacramento and the Rockets.

Still, in a feature by Kerry Eggers for the Portland Tribune, Robinson said he wasn't particularly fired up about facing one of his former teams in the playoffs.

"I'm over that by now. I just want to help my team get to the second round, man. That's all the motivation I need. Houston is just the team we have to play to move on."

The Tribune inquired with Robinson about his limited minutes/success (12.5 minutes, 4.8 points, 4.4 rebounds in his second season) compared to other top picks of the 2012 draft class, such as Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond. Eggers asked him whether he received an unfair shake.

"I'm not complaining. No, I don't think so. But you go back to the top half of the (2012) draft, I'm the only one who didn't play 20 minutes a game as a rookie. I've played one 30-minute game my whole career."

For now, Robinson will continue coming off the Portland bench while learning under one of the most productive offensive power forwards on the planet, LaMarcus Aldridge.

Robinson played just seven minutes, made one of his two shots and had two rebounds in Portland's 112-105 road win Wednesday, which put Houston in a 2-0 series hole. He also blocked two shots — one against one of the top scorers in the league, James Harden.

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Game 3 in Portland tips off Friday night (9:30 on ESPN).


What to watch

Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce, left, and Toronto Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas dive for the ball during the first half of Game 1 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series, in Toronto on Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce, left, and Toronto Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas dive for the ball during the first half of Game 1 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series, in Toronto on Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

The next three days will feature plenty of critical first-round playoff games for the 'Hawks in the NBA.

Here's a rundown of when and where to catch them:

FRIDAY

• Game 3: Toronto at Brooklyn (Paul Pierce), series tied 1-1; 6 p.m., ESPN2

• Game 3: Chicago (Kirk Hinrich) at Washington (Drew Gooden), Wizards lead 2-0; 7 p.m., ESPN

• Game 3: Houston at Portland (Thomas Robinson), Trail Blazers lead 2-0; 9:30 p.m., ESPN

SATURDAY

• Game 3: Miami (Mario Chalmers) at Charlotte, Heat lead 2-0; 6 p.m., ESPN

• Game 4: Oklahoma City (Nick Collison) at Memphis, Grizzlies lead 2-1; 8:30 p.m., ESPN

SUNDAY

• Game 4: Chicago (Kirk Hinrich) at Washington (Drew Gooden), Wizards lead 2-0; Noon., ABC

• Game 4: Toronto at Brooklyn (Paul Pierce), series tied 1-1; 6 p.m., TNT

• Game 4: Houston at Portland (Thomas Robinson), Trail Blazers lead 2-0; 8:30 p.m., TNT


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Paul Pierce clutch in playoffs opener

Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce, center, drives to the net against Toronto Raptors Patrick Patterson, left, during the first half of Game 1 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series, in Toronto on Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce, center, drives to the net against Toronto Raptors Patrick Patterson, left, during the first half of Game 1 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series, in Toronto on Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

For the first 30-plus minutes he spent on the court Saturday at Toronto, it didn't look like veteran Brooklyn small forward Paul Pierce would play a key role in the outcome of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs series between the Raptors and Nets.

But when crunch time came around, Pierce instinctively took over, and led Brooklyn to a 94-87 win.

With the Nets holding a slim, one-point lead with less than four minutes to play, Pierce fed Kevin Garnett for his only bucket of the game, then proceeded to tap the fountain of youth and score nine straight Brooklyn points, helping his team amass an eight-point lead with a minute and a half left.

If you squint your eyes enough, it's like watching a young Paul Pierce in Boston green, instead of Brooklyn black.

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Pierce had just six points to his name late in the fourth quarter before taking over in front of a once enthused crowd at Air Canada Centre. NBA.com's John Schuhmann wrote about how Pierce's years of playoff experience helped Brooklyn close out a road win to open the best-of-seven series. Here's what Pierce had to say on the matter:

“You’ve been in those situations a number of times. I don’t get rattled in the fourth quarters, down the stretch of playoff settings. I just try to stay calm, bring my calmness to the game, and just try to influence the rest of the guys.”

"The Truth" isn't The Guy anymore, now that he's in his 16th season out of Kansas. But when the Raptors' defense focused on stopping his Nets teammates, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, Pierce feasted with a clutch, game-changing run.

“I thought it was part of great execution. They took away our first and second option and I was able to fill in as a third option and make some plays.”

Pierce and Brooklyn resume their series with Toronto Tuesday night.


Weekend recap: Hinrich only former Jayhawk to lose

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, left, shoots against Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat during the second half in Game 1 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Chicago, Sunday, April 20, 2014. The Wizards won 102-93. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, left, shoots against Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat during the second half in Game 1 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Chicago, Sunday, April 20, 2014. The Wizards won 102-93. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

All but one of the 'Hawks in the NBA began their postseason with a win this past weekend, when Pierce (15 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) and Chicago's Kirk Hinrich (16 points, 2 assists) stood out with the best individual performances.

Despite a productive night for the Bulls veteran guard (7-for-16, shot chart below), Hinrich was the odd man out among KU products, as Chicago fell, 102-93, to the Wizards Sunday night.

Chicago's Kirk Hinrich hit 7 of his 16 shots in Game 1 against Washington — a 102-93 Wizards victory.

Chicago's Kirk Hinrich hit 7 of his 16 shots in Game 1 against Washington — a 102-93 Wizards victory.

Drew Gooden only played three minutes for Washington and didn't take a shot, but his team prevailed at Chicago. Mario Chalmers had seven points in Miami's win against Charlotte, Thomas Robinson scored three in an overtime Portland victory at Houston and Nick Collison had three points and five rebounds in Oklahoma City's Saturday win against Memphis.


Tweetworthy

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

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Gettin these legs ready for tomorrow. The journey begins for number 3. One step at a time tho

Gettin these legs ready for tomorrow. The journey begins for number 3. One step at a time tho by mchalmers15


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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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