If the Sacramento Kings have their way, they will find out before the season ends exactly what rookie shooting guard Ben McLemore can do for their franchise.
Both words and actions from the organization this week displayed Sacramento's interest in keeping the 21-year-old around long enough to see his full potential.
As reported by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, the Kings showed their belief in the rookie out of Kansas, not only by openly dispelling trade rumors (a prominent one had McLemore as part of a package to land Boston point guard Rajon Rondo), but also dealing away Marcus Thornton, who had been the team's starting shooting guard.
Thornton's former spot in the lineup is McLemore's now, and clearly management wants to see what he does with it.
The Kings (18-36), last in the Pacific Division out West, aren't going to make the playoffs. So Sacramento coach Michael Malone will be watching closely during the next couple of months:
“My main thing moving forward is Ben McLemore,” Malone said before Wednesday’s game. “And that’s no disrespect to anybody, but we drafted Ben seventh, and it’s been an up-and-down season for him at times. But with these last 29 games, there’s no pressure on this team. I want us to play together, I want us to play the right way. I want us to have fun, and I also want to have a great opportunity to see Ben, Ray (McCallum), Carl (Landry) and Derrick (Williams). Especially to see what they’re able to do with the last 29 games.”
In McLemore's return to the starting lineup Wednesday against Golden State (he started 26 games earlier this season), he found himself in some foul trouble, only played 19 minutes and went 1-for-4 from the floor with four points and four rebounds.
In 54 games, the 6-foot-5 rookie has averaged 23.2 minutes, 7.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and hit 36.5% of his shots, 33.3% of his three-pointers and 78.6% of his free throws.
Blake Ellington at SactownRoyalty.com breaks down some of McLemore's issues on the floor, which have included "disappearing" for long stretches, playing passively and lacking consistency on his jumper.
(Disclaimer: Steph Curry does that to lots of people.)
The rookie's next opportunity to prove he should be part of Sacramento's core for the future comes Saturday night against Boston — the game can be seen on NBATV, at 9 p.m.
For more on McLemore, listen to an interview he did with Fescoe in the Morning, on 610 Sports Radio.
McLemore's interview begins at about the 32-minute mark and he talks about adjusting to the NBA, the slam dunk contest at All-Star Weekend, hearing about trade rumors and taking the next step in his career.
Taylor reportedly done with D-League
In 'Hawks no longer in the NBA news:
Roughly a month after Brooklyn traded him and New Orleans waived him, it appears Tyshawn Taylor is through with the D-League for this season.
Taylor had signed with the Maine Red Claws, and only scored five points in his last outing on Wednesday night.
The next day, news began to pop up on Twitter about Taylor signing with a club in Puerto Rico.
In eight D-League games this season, Taylor averaged 9.6 points and 3.4 rebounds.
He averaged 3.9 points and 1.6 assists in 11.7 minutes a game for Brooklyn.
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By all accounts, Sacramento rookie guard Ben McLemore is doing all he can to become a better NBA player.
Earlier this week, the Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones had a story on that very subject. Even on days off — when players have the freedom to do whatever they please — McLemore hits the weights and works on his game.
McLemore spoke with Jones about some of the aspects of his game that he tries to address:
“I was telling coach (Chris) Jent and coach Dee (Brown) the things we’ve been working on I’ve been perfecting out there on the court,” McLemore said. “I’m more comfortable dribbling the ball, coming off screens and handling it and creating shots for myself. I’m definitely comfortable and I want to continue to grow.”
He put some of those skills to use earlier this week, on his way to 18 points against Denver.
Despite his development, McLemore wasn't one of the nine NBA rookies chosen to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge, a showcase game for first- and second-year players at the NBA's upcoming All-Star Weekend, in New Orleans.
McLemore averages 7.9 points and 2.8 rebounds through 45 games this season for the Kings. He's shooting 36.8 percent from the floor. Below is his shot chart. (Red is below the NBA average for that area of the floor, yellow is about average and green is above average.)
Here's the weird thing about McLemore's omission: he is fifth among NBA rookies in scoring. The only first-year players averaging more than the Sacramento shooting guard are Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams, Orlando's Victor Oladipo, Utah's Trey Burke and New York's Tim Hardaway Jr. All five of them made the cut. (Go to BleacherReport.com for a full list of Rising Stars Challenge participants.)
Surely, McLemore must be disappointed about the snub. But the rook seems wise beyond his years in his response to the selections.
Taylor signs on with D-League's Red Claws
Cut by the New Orleans Pelicans last week, Tyshawn Taylor has a new home.
It's just not in the NBA. The D-League's Maine Red Claws announced Thursday they signed the guard out of Kansas and he's expected to join the team on Sunday.
The Red Claws are an affiliate of the Boston Celtics.
Whether Taylor proves himself worthy of a spot in the NBA in the next couple of months — with Boston or another team — remains to be seen. We'll find out in the weeks to come how he responds to a new situation — and one he likely didn't anticipate being in at this point of the season.
Arthur returns to Nuggets lineup
The man known around KU basketball as "Shady" got back on the floor this week for Denver. Darrell Arthur had missed seven games with a strained hip, and played for the first time since Jan. 11 on Wednesday against Charlotte.
Arthur played 17 minutes in his typical role, off the bench, and surpassed his season average (5.7 a game) with seven points for Denver.
The 6-foot-9 forward even buried a three-pointer in the final minute to get the Nuggets within a point, but the Bobcats went on to win.
Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.
Cancel the party. Return your Pelicans T-shirts (unless you only bought them to celebrate Jeff Withey).
The reunion is over, and it ended before it ever had a chance to start.
Two days after New Orleans acquired Tyshawn Taylor in a trade with Brooklyn, reuniting him with former Kansas teammate Withey, the Pelicans waived Taylor on Thursday. He never even played a game with the team.
That's life in the NBA.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams told John Reid of NOLA.com he thought Taylor wasn't a good fit:
"We just released him so he could go somewhere else if somebody wanted to pick him up,'' Williams said.
At least one rumor out there has Taylor possibly signing with the Los Angeles Clippers, who are down a point guard with Chris Paul injured.
Withey makes most of his minutes
The waiving of Taylor might have been bad news for Withey, but the big man has to feel good about his last game. The Pelicans lost, 114-97, to Sacramento on Tuesday, but Withey played a season-high 27 minutes and the rookie big man scored 14 points — a new career high.
Nakla Hogan, of NOLA.com, wrote about Withey's breakout game, which included 5-of-6 shooting, five rebounds, two blocks and a pair of steals.
Withey told Hogan mental reps and practice work made him ready when his coach gave him an opportunity (his previous season high for minutes was 18):
"As a rookie, I've been watching where everybody is going and how other guys play, so now the game is slowing down for me a little bit when I'm out there," Withey said. "In the beginning of the year I would go out there and just run around like my head was cut off. Now I know the plays and where to be and now it's making things a lot easier."
In each of Withey's last three games, he has played at least 14 minutes. That's a far cry from the previous 30, in which he never played more than nine minutes and had several DNP's.
New Orleans has suffered some injuries in its front court, and that could give Withey a chance to establish himself as a key reserve:
"When I go out there with the second group I can bring energy. All my points (against Sacramento) was off dish offs. I don't create or anything. We have so many scorers on our team, I just have to be in the right place at the right time. It makes my job very easy."
Check out the highlight's from Withey's big night below. It will be interesting to see if he can keep up this kind of production and/or remain a part of the Pelicans' plans for the future.
Markieff Morris key to Suns' success
Throughout this season, Phoenix backup forward Markieff Morris has had a lot to do with his team's success.
It turned out he was capable of contributing to Suns losses by not playing well, too. During a recent five-game road trip, the third-year forward slumped, making just 29 percent of his shots and averaging only 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds a game.
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek knew Morris's struggles could derail the positive momentum Phoenix (now 24-17) had created this season, as one of the NBA's more surprising teams — during the road trip, Phoenix went 1-4.
In a radio interview detailed by Vince Marotta of ArizonaSports.com, Hornacek said he spoke with the big man about busting out of the slump:
"Basically, I grabbed him after practice one day and I said 'Markieff, we need you, you're our key guy off the bench, but the only way you're going to get out of this is to play as hard as you can.' That's how you get back into it," Hornacek said. "I think guys kind of go through the motions sometimes. I think he fell a little bit back into his habit of last year -- just kind of floating around and not really running and making hard moves offensively."
Morris had no trouble responding. He's averaged 20.8 points in Phoenix's last four games (all at home), and the Suns went 3-1, with a 124-100 blowout victory over the league's top team, Indiana, on Wednesday night in Phoenix.
Morris put up 20 points against the Pacers (33-8).
Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.
Look who is back together again.
Former Kansas standouts Jeff Withey and Tyshawn Taylor will be teammates once more — this time in the NBA, with New Orleans. So run out to the store and buy all the Pelicans gear you can. (Actually, not sure which would be more difficult: finding Pelicans attire or not being ridiculed for wearing Pelicans attire.)
And what better place to reunite than New Orleans, the site of the 2012 Final Four? After all, Taylor and Withey helped Kansas beat Ohio State in the national semifinals in the very city they will both now call home.
The trade that sent Taylor away from Brooklyn (and another former Jayhawk, Paul Pierce) became official Tuesday morning. As reported by John Reid of NOLA.com, the Nets dealt Taylor for cash and the draft rights to Edin Bavcic.
New Orleans acquired Taylor to for some much-needed backcourt flexibility, Reid wrote:
The Pelicans likely made the move to add depth in the backcourt because starting point guard Jrue Holiday is sidelined indefinitely with a fractured tibia.
Taylor's only averaging 3.9 points and 1.6 assists in 11.7 minutes a game this season, so it will be interesting to see whether Pelicans coach Monty Williams makes him a small part of the rotation or if Taylor will take on the same role he had in Brooklyn.
That remains to be seen, and the move definitely makes it seem like New Orleans might like Taylor, because the franchise had other options, as pointed out by NOLA.com's Nakia Hogan:
Instead of calling up NBA D-League leading scorer Pierre Jackson, whom the Pelicans hold the rights to, or standing pat with young guards Austin Rivers and Brian Roberts, the Pelicans looked to Taylor.
Whatever happens, it's safe to assume Taylor will spend more time on the floor than his old buddy, Withey, who is averaging 6.0 minutes a game.
Hinrich prefers Windy City
A little while back, trade winds started swirling and whispering the name of Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, with hints floating around that he could be dealt to Golden State.
If the 11th-year NBA veteran could call the shots, though, he would at least stick with the Bulls for the remainder of the season, before his contract expires.
The one-time Jayhawk, who teamed with Oklahoma City's Nick Collison to lead Kansas to back-to-back Final Fours in 2002 and 2003, told the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson he wants to keep playing as long as he can be effective, and right now he'd prefer that happen in a Bulls uniform.
"I'm happy here," Hinrich said. "I came back here because I wanted to be here. I still like our team. I get along great with the guys. We've been playing well lately so I just want to keep that going."
A trade to Golden State for Hinrich very well might be dead. The Warriors addressed their need for point guard help by acquiring Jordan Crawford from Boston. None of the talk gets to Hinrich, though.
"It's out of your control so you just keep going and trying to take care of business and focus on what we're doing here," he said. "It's not the first time my name has been in trade rumors. It's something I'm kind of used to and don't read too much into them."
In some possible bad news for Hinrich, he suffered a hamstring injury in Chicago's Monday night win over the Lakers.
Good time for a vacation
The Brooklyn Nets went on holiday to London last week for an NBA excursion against Atlanta, and amid the sight-seeing and exploring Paul Pierce scored 18 points in a 127-110 Nets victory.
Here is Pierce discussing the trip and the importance of winning this showcase game:
Seems like he enjoyed the trip, though it took some adjusting:
Brooklyn, which got off to a dreadful start this season, despite acquiring Pierce and Kevin Garnett (and Jason Terry, if you want to count him) from the Celtics in an off-season mega-deal, has won seven of its last eight games to climb into the No. 7 spot in the putrid Eastern Conference.
Even with a dud of a 1-for-4, three-point night Monday in the Nets' win against New York, Pierce is averaging 14.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the Nets' last eight games, as Brooklyn appears to finally be living up to its expectations.
Get daily stat updates for all of the 'Hawks in the NBA at KUsports.com.
We took a break for the Christmas holiday, but the NBA didn’t.
Here’s what you may have missed:
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.
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.
Phoenix’s Markieff Morris put back a buzzer-beating offensive rebound against Philadelphia on Saturday.
Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat (Dec. 28 / W, 108-107 at POR)
Marcus Morris, Phoenix Suns (Dec. 28 / W, 115-101 vs. PHI)
Marcus Morris, Phoenix Suns (Dec. 23 / W, 117-90 vs. LAL)
Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns (Dec. 20 / W, 103-99 at DEN)
Paul Pierce, Brooklyn Nets (Dec. 20 / L, 121-120 OT at PHI)
Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings (Dec. 20 / L, 122-103 at MIA)
Los Angeles Lakers early-season surprise and part-time starter Xavier Henry injured his right knee on Sunday against Philadelphia.
"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.
"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."
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.
"At some point, you just cut your losses and do the fake trip and say, ‘Oh well, I tried.’"
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.
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.
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.
"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:
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.
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!
Remember to check KUsports.com every night for the latest line scores from the ‘Hawks in the NBA.
Nothing says December like an avalanche of “Best of” lists. And the NBA wants in on the fun.
Nevermind that the All-Star game is two months away or that just a fourth of the season is in the bag, first returns from this annual popularity contest are in.
Two Jayhawks made the 50-deep after the earliest round of fan voting:
— Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers was the No. 10 vote-getter among Eastern Conference backcourt players with 32,996 votes.
— Brooklyn Nets small forward Paul Pierce sits at 13th among East frontcourt players with 45,145 votes.
Of course, with just two backcourt slots and three frontcourt slots per conference, things don’t look good for Chalmers or Pierce. Leaders in the East received over 390,000 and 600,000 votes, respectively.
Fan voting for the 10 All-Star starters ends on Jan. 20, so if there’s any time to Rock Chalk the vote, it’s now.
Morris twins march on
Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris landed on the initial 120-player All-Star fan ballot, but didn’t collect a noteworthy number of votes in the first round of results.
Not surprising for a bench player who’s just now showing up on the radar of many NBA fans.
Besides, Co-Sixth Men of the Year sounds like a much more fitting award for Markieff and brother Marcus.
The twins, through the first 22 games of the season:
12.8 points (50.2 FG%), 6.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.9 steals in 26.0 minutes a game
10.9 points (47.0 FG%, 1.4 threes at 42.9%), 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals in 22.8 minutes a game
Among all bench players without a single start this season, here’s how the Morrii rank:
Scoring: 3rd. Markieff; 6th. Marcus
Rebounding: T1st. Markieff; 3rd. Marcus
Free-throw attempts: 5th. Markieff; 11th. Marcus
Steals: T4th. Marcus; T9th. Markieff
Increased efficiency has played a big part in the twins’ success.
Markieff has bumped his shooting up from 39.9 and 40.7 percent in his first two seasons to 50.2 percent this year. That’s the ninth-biggest improvement from 2012-13 to 2013-14 as calculated by NBA.com’s John Schuhmann.
Earlier this month, Keef explained his new offensive mindset:
"I've just got a great feel for the game right now," he said. "I'm not trying to shoot as many 3s as I have in the past. I've just been working on driving to the basket and trying to get to the line."
The stats back it up. Markieff is shooting just 0.8 threes this season compared to 1.6 last year. And in just a few more minutes a game, he’s taking 3.7 free throws, up from 1.5.
Meanwhile, Marcus’ shooting is up from 29.6 and 42.2 percent to 47.0 percent.
Defensive improvements have been just as important.
(Markieff) Morris draws 4.3 fouls per 48 minutes of play this season. That is down from 5.5 fouls per 48 minutes last season and 7.0 two seasons ago.
“He’s focusing on his defense earlier,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “In the past, to me it looked like he didn’t want to play defense. He just wanted to be out there and kind of get by. Then all of a sudden, you get yourself in bad situations and you have to foul somebody. But he’s doing his defensive work early. Consequently, he’s in better position, and you don’t have to foul.”
“He’s not long enough to think he’s going to go block all the shots. He’s got to work on his positioning and he’s done a great job of that. The quicker reactions have helped him.”
And that whole twin thing? It’s working out for the Suns.
Again, from AZCentral.com:
When Hornacek first saw his team practice, he felt like the other three players on the court were non-existent when Markieff and Marcus Morris were playing together. Hornacek joked that when they want to make sure a pass is made in a called play, they have the twins on both ends of it.
“I think Markieff is one of the best passers on our team and he’s probably one of the best big-man passers in the league,” Hornacek said. “He can really see things happen. We try to put him in positions where he can make passes.”
Sounds like a recipe for success as the season enters its second quarter.
Can Xavier Henry still dunk?
Tyshawn to Toronto?
Brooklyn Nets guard Tyshawn Taylor has been mentioned as a trade chip in a proposed deal with the Toronto Raptors, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Talks are ongoing, but considering Taylor’s lukewarm play and the return of starting point guard Deron Williams, the Nets may choose move the second-year pro.
Make sure that passport is up-to-date, Tyshawn.
Turnovers aren’t, um, an ideal basketball play. But their entertainment value can be off the charts.
Two former KU stars ended up with brilliant bloopers recently.
Seldom-used New York Knicks center Cole Aldrich showed off his dance moves in a game against Orlando.
And Chicago's Kirk Hinrich had the best/saddest reaction to a missed pass in the history of basketball:
Poor Kirk went full Charlie Brown after the turnover, so the folks at SBNation.com paired the video with the most appropriate music ever.
Good grief, indeed.
Collison makes his case
How does a player with career averages of 6.7 points and 5.8 rebounds earn the distinction of “No-Stats All-Star”?
Oklahoma City forward Nick Collison explained earlier this week on NBATV:
Remember, kids, setting screens and taking charges can be cool, too:
On telling Markieff and Marcus Morris apart, from Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough:
"That's one of the toughest parts of my job."
On watching the Morris twins before a game, from ESPN’s Danny Chau:
I watched the Morris brothers play Dueling Lefty Jumpers. Marcus won. I think.
Paul Pierce on his move from Boston to Brooklyn, via Andy Vasquez:
"I'm a guy that when it's time to move on you move on. You can ask any girlfriend I've ever had."
Darrell Arthur, on a hidden talent, via DenverStiffs.com Q&A:
I like to bowl, I learned to bowl in college. I'm really fascinated with spinning [the ball]. When I get out there I just have fun with it, I'm not that good, but I like to get out there and bowl.
On Thomas Robinson during Portland’s game against Utah on Monday, from BlazersEdge.com:
If Energy Solutions Arena was a Jazz bar tonight Thomas Robinson did the equivalent of busting down the front door and swinging a gunny sack full of bowling balls through the entire combo.
Don’t forget to keep tabs on all your favorite ‘Hawks in the NBA with KUsports.com’s daily stat recaps.
Kirk Hinrich’s been called many things during his 11-year NBA career.
Point guard. Shooting guard. Rookie. Veteran. Bull. Hawk. Wizard. Bull, again. Defender. Marksman. Glue Guy. Floor General. Troublemaker.
Oh, don’t give us that look, Kirk.
Hinrich may not be a brawler, but lest we forget, the Chicago Bulls’ goggles-wearing guard can be an irritant. And that mean streak tends to come out against the Miami Heat.
Take it away, 2007 Pat Riley:
"Just like the Chicago Bulls whine about Dwyane (Wade) always getting too many free throws, a great defender like Kirk Hinrich gets away with everything," he said. "And that's why he's a great defender. He's that way all the time. He's into you. He never stops. He's relentless.
"You develop a reputation as a technique defender, a physical defender. He has earned the right to probably get away with a lot of things.
Whatever the reason, Captain Kirk happens to find himself in quite a few “dust-ups,” like Thursday’s tiff with Miami’s Norris Cole.
The refs gave Kirk a technical for the exchange, and Kirk gave the world a GIFable reaction.
We give you a walk down memory lane:
King Arthur’s Court
Denver’s Darrell Arthur has been living in the mid-range area (10 to 24 feet) this season.
Sure, Arthur’s had a reputation for the mid-range shot since his days at Kansas. And since he’s been in the league, with Memphis, the majority of his shots have come from that distance.
So what makes this season different, other than trading his Grizzlies gear for a Nuggets jersey? It’s not his minutes played (17.7 per game; 18.2 career average) and it’s not his number of shot attempts (5.7 per game; 6.3 career average).
The big difference is that, in the 18 games of 2013-14, Arthur’s taken more than three-fourths of his total shots from mid-range. That’s a HUGE leap.
Take a look: (mid-range shot attempts/total shots attempted)
13-14: 76% (78/103)
12-13: 54% (194/359)
10-11: 50% (313/624)
09-10: 36% (52/146)
08-09: 42% (184/436)
None of those numbers would mean much if he weren’t making the shots. But he is.
Let's bring in a new set of stats. This time, field goal percentage for mid-range shots (makes/attempts in parentheses).
13-14: 51% (40/78)
12-13: 45.4% (88/194)
10-11: 41.2% (129/313)
09-10: 38.5% (20/52)
08-09: 38.0% (70/184)
Put those numbers together, and Arthur’s scored 73.4 percent of his points from mid-range, way up from 48.6% last season, 35.4% before that, and 28.0% before that (He had 33.2 percent of his points from mid-range his rookie year).
Now that we’ve established Arthur’s mid-range mastery, the only questions are:
- Can he keep it up?
- Should he?
DenverStiffs.com asked the second question, and if you’re at all interested in the nitty-gritty mid-range vs. three-pointer debate, check out their thread.
(Big thanks to NBA.com/stats and Chrome’s address bar/calculator for the numbers)
Not rushing back
On Wednesday, Utah’s Brandon Rush scored his first NBA basket in 399 days.
It was his only shot of the game and brings his total to four points in three games this season. Nevertheless, an important milestone for Rush as he works his way back from his second ACL tear in five years.
Rush recently spoke to the Deseret News about where he’s at, mentally and physically:
“What I want to get done first,” Rush said, “is being able to wake up and not think about the game situation, not being nervous and stuff like that.”
“The first time I did it when I was in college, it took me 5 1/2 months to get back. I wasn’t out of the game that long,” Rush explained. “This time, I had that route where I couldn’t have surgery for two months. It took a toll on the muscles in my quad.
“This has just been complicated,” he added. “I have been out a whole complete year. That takes anybody’s confidence away.”
Starting to look bad
Tyshawn Taylor tallied a career-high 16 points and 12 assists off the bench for the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 29. In the week since, Taylor started all three games (filling in for Deron Williams and his injured ankle) but averaged just 7.3 points, 31 percent shooting, 1.3 assists and 2.3 turnovers in 27 minutes a game.
It hasn’t been pretty.
In Taylor’s defense, it’s not an enviable spot to be in — big media market, big payroll, big expectations but a lowly 5-14 record. Add to the mix a second-year player with limited in-game experience, and …
As Tyshawn Taylor barks out defensive instructions, Nate Robinson goes backdoor on him for an alley-oop layup. God this season.— devin kharpertian (@uuords) December 4, 2013
At least he’s trying.
Nets have given up. It's 55-34 in 2nd quarter Tyshawn Taylor is the only player talking in the huddle. Everyone else looking at cheerleaders— Stefan Bondy (@NYDNInterNets) November 30, 2013
Speaking of point guards ...
The Los Angeles Lakers have turned to Xavier Henry for help at point guard, according to practice reports from this week. With Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar injured and Steve Blake starting, Henry will be pressed into service as the backup point guard (or backup-backup-backup?). Henry briefly played the position Sunday during his 27-point explosion against Portland.
On Ben McLemore, via the Sacramento Bee:
“When you have talent like he has, and a work ethic like he does, you are going to succeed,” said Kings adviser and Hall of Famer Chris Mullin. “I love the way he runs the floor. He’s fluid. He’s got beautiful form (on his jumper). He’s got to become more consistent, but if we start finding him out on the break more, he’ll get layups and free throws, and not have to rely on the 3-point shot. The quality of the shots will get better.”
Nick Collison, on trying to win more jump balls, via DailyThunder.com:
“It’s not a huge deal,” Collison said, “but you know what it is, it’s good to be at a place as a team where you’re worried about that stuff.”
Don’t forget to keep tabs on all your favorite ‘Hawks in the NBA with KUsports.com’s daily stat recaps.
Eight seconds left, down by two points, no timeouts and Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd needed someone to execute a clutch play.
Enter former KU guard Tyshawn Taylor.
The Nets have had to rely on Taylor in recent weeks with starting point guard Deron Williams sidelined by an ankle injury. Taylor’s response has been equal parts highlight and lowlight with nearly a turnover for every assist.
But he sure came through in crunch time on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The extra timeout didn’t go quite as well. For starters, fellow Jayhawk Xavier Henry was one of two Lakers to infiltrate the Nets’ huddle. (“we needed to know what play they was gon run lol,” Henry tweeted afterward)
And then another KU alum, Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce, missed the shot that would have forced overtime.
But back to Taylor. After the game, Tyshawn continued his All-Star performance, this time at the mic:
Taylor also denied that the spill was intentional. "Naw, I wasn't paying attention," Taylor said after the game. "I didn't even know he was holding nothing. Like, coach is drinking soda on the sidelines! I'm like 'What? What you doing?'"
Taylor acknowledged the benefit of the "accidental" spill. "It might ice a free throw shooter and be a time-out when you don't have one, but that wasn't the thought process. I was just coming out and he was in my way."
He then laughed. "'Coach, get out my way, bro.'"
The NBA will fine Kidd $50,000 for the soda stunt, according to Yahoo Sports. We say give the money to Taylor for a job well done.
Better ‘safe’ than ...
Darrell Arthur hasn’t been spectacular in his first season with the Denver Nuggets, but since Denver starting center JaVale McGee went down with an injury, he’s been solid. “Safe,” even.
Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, via the Denver Post:
"He's a safety net for us," Shaw said. "With him, he might be kind of, without a better way of saying it, he was the sacrificial lamb early on. But I know what I'm going to get out of him.”
In the last 10 games, Arthur’s averaged 6.3 points, 2.3 rebounds in 19 minutes. Again, not spectacular, but during those 19 minutes when Arthur’s on the floor, the Nuggets have outscored their opponents by an average of 7.2 points.
A couple of factors in that, from Denver Post writer Christopher Dempsey:
He's shown himself to be arguably the Nuggets' best big man in the pick-and-roll defense. And he's a reliable shooter.
For more on Arthur’s contributions for the Nuggets, read “The Hidden Impact of Darrell Arthur,” by RoundballMiningCompany.com.
Those Morris twins have shared some success this season as key reserves for the Phoenix Suns. They’ve also shared more than a few baskets:
Paul Coro of AZcentral.com described a couple more Morris-to-Morris connections from Wednesday’s game against Portland:
In the third quarter, Markieff grabbed his own rebound and Marcus was the first to instinctively come back to the play. Markieff wrapped a pass around a defender to Marcus for a layup. In the second quarter, Markieff split two Trail Blazers to get to an offensive rebound that he could only tap out but he knew where Marcus was on the court and slapped it to him for a leaner.
A quick perusal of Suns’ box scores tell the story best, though.
Markieff has tallied 25 assists this season. Of those, 10 have gone to Marcus.
Meanwhile, Marcus has only 15 assists, but eight of those are on baskets by Markieff.
Do you think they like playing together?
Fun with stats
Miami’s Mario Chalmers, the guy who made a name for himself at the top of the arc, is the NBA’s best shooter on corner threes this season. He’s hit 10 of 13 attempts (77 percent), including perfect 6-for-6 marksmanship from the left corner. (hat tip to Comcast SportsNet’s A. Sherrod Blakely)
On Brandon Rush, from Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, via the Deseret News:
“(He’s) just trying to get his confidence back and feeling comfortable with the guys, reassure himself that his leg’s ready to go,” Corbin said. “I hope this is the top of the hill so we can get him on the floor. He’s been looking very (good) in practice. We’re looking for him to be ready to go.”
Tyshawn Taylor on playing fourth-quarter minutes, from the New York Daily News:
“Getting out there and kind of getting your feet wet, kind of getting used to the system and playing with the guys in game-like settings is great for the confidence. It’s huge for me.”
Markieff Morris, earning a technical foul after a call by NBA ref/fellow Philadelphia native Joey Crawford, via OrlandoMagic.com’s John Denton:
"You can't come back to Philly after that."
On the Morrii, from South Florida SunSentinel’s Ira Winderman:
Markieff Morris dunks, brother Marcus, awaiting at scorers' table, goes, "Woo!"
Don’t forget to keep tabs on all your favorite ‘Hawks in the NBA with KUsports.com’s daily stat recaps.
Tyshawn Taylor might be onto something. If he wasn't wearing that black Brooklyn Nets uniform, you would almost swear this highlight came from his days in Lawrence.
That is some vintage Taylor. Attacking the rim like he did at Kansas. I don't recall seeing Taylor drive the lane and finish like that since he played for Bill Self.
Bad close-out and help angles aside, Taylor exploited what the opposing defense gave him, and that's what works in the NBA.
It's hard to figure what, if anything, has changed, but perhaps Taylor's Instagram post provides some insight.
Taylor scored nine points and dished four assists in what has been a rarity this season: a Nets win. Brooklyn (4-10) had lost five games in a row before Taylor and the most elder 'Hawk in the NBA, Paul Pierce (16 points, four assists, four rebounds), at least helped the Nets end their skid.
But as Rob Mahoney writes for SI.com, the high-paid Nets aren't living up to their billing, and things need to change soon if they stand a chance of contending in the Eastern Conference.
Kieff flies over Birdman
Here's today's installment of a KU product posterizing a defender.
Markieff Morris only hit three of his nine shots in Phoenix's Monday loss at Miami, but he made this one count, and clipped Chris “Birdman” Andersen's wings in the process.
That was the mean side of Kieff. Here's his more compassionate side. He and brother/teammate Marcus Morris provided some community service for Phoenix area families to get in the Thanksgiving spirit.
We've been keeping up with all the NBA players who played at Kansas, but it's time to check in on a head coach who wore crimson and blue: the Orlando Magic's Jacque Vaughn.
The Magic (5-9) aren't setting the world on fire by any means in Vaughn's second season on the job, but no one was expecting that, either. Orlando has a young roster, highlighted by rookie Victor Oladipo, and entered the season perceived as a lottery team. (So maybe they'll land one of the Jayhawks' talented freshman phenoms next June.)
Vaughn's team should only get better with the addition of Tobias Harris to the rotation. What's more, the Magic's Tuesday night win at Atlanta marked the team's first road victory since last season. In March.
Rock-chalk the vote
When it comes to watching Kansas products play on TV, the national games don't provide a lot of options. Unless you just love watching Miami. Then you're all set.
But if you get NBA TV on your cable/satellite package, there is an easy way to try and see more of your favorite Jayhawks, via the channel's weekly Fan Night.
Fans can vote for their preferred matchup, and this week's choices include Vaughn's Magic vs. Philadelphia, Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat (as if they're not televised enough) vs. Detroit and the Phoenix Suns, featuring the Morrii, vs. Memphis.
Don't forget to check in at our 'Hawks in the NBA page every day for the latest stats.
Earlier this month, Brooklyn Nets second-year guard Tyshawn Taylor heard from team management the letter-and-word combo no player in the NBA wants said to him: D-League.
As in, that's where Taylor was headed.
But his stay with the Springfield Armor only lasted a few days, and by Saturday night in Los Angeles, the KU product made the most of a rare opportunity to play. Going up against the Clippers when most of the Nets' key pieces, including point guard Deron Williams, missed the game with injuries, Taylor logged 15 minutes in a 110-103 loss.
Compare that to four combined minutes in two other appearances this season. (Translation: Taylor usually falls victim to the dreaded DNP-CD.) Not on Saturday, though. Taylor hit a three-pointer, went 6-for-8 at the foul line and racked up 13 points, four assists and three steals in limited action.
There's even video evidence:
Now, this probably doesn't mean Taylor has earned a spot in the Nets' rotation. But the more he makes of these chances, the more he'll be called upon in the future.
Oops upside Dirk's head
Mario Chalmers' weekend wasn't as promising or positive as Taylor's. The Miami Heat guard took his left forearm to Dirk Nowitzki's face on Friday night, and the league kind of frowns upon that kind of thing.
Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel breaks it down:
In essence, the foul cost Chalmers part of Friday's fourth quarter, all of Saturday's game and now basically has him on flagrant-foul probation the balance of the season. Norris Cole started in his place Saturday.
Here's Winderman's full story on the ejection/flagrant foul: Chalmers suspended for foul on Nowitzki
In response to the ejection, Chalmers had this to tweet:
Never in my career been a dirty player. It's clear that my arm was being held and that's wat caused me to hit dirk. Enough is enough man— Mario Chalmers (@mchalmers15) November 16, 2013
And at least one media member took Chalmers' side:
Who leveled Dirk? Chalmers. Who helped Dirk up? Same guy. Don't see that often when there's intent to injure.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) November 16, 2013
You can judge for yourself here (quality isn't great, but at least you get the idea):
We'll see how Chalmers responds to this situation in the days, weeks and months to come.
My teammates gonna hold it down for me tonight against the bobcats. Can't wait till Tuesday night. It's startin to get personal now— Mario Chalmers (@mchalmers15) November 16, 2013
Keep in mind, Chalmers is a free agent this coming offseason, and will be looking to get paid.
Here's Winderman's take: Could Chalmers prove too costly for the Heat?
More from the Morrii
Hey, it wouldn't be a 'Hawks in the NBA blog if we didn't catch up with everybody's favorite Wonder Twins. No, not these two. Why would you even make that reference?
We're talking about Marcus and Markieff Morris, of course.
The NBA Hang Time blog provides some Morrii gems from Phoenix, including this quote from Markieff:
“We’re like the Spurs, how they’ve been together for a long time, so used to each other and playing together.”
Not sure the Morrii will be racking up NBA titles like the Spurs, but you never know, I guess. (Spoiler alert: we do know. This is what the Suns looked like the last time they made the NBA Finals. In 1993.)
Hinrich meshes with D-Rose
Enough about all these young guys. What's up with our favorite spectacle-wearing KU product?
Well, for one, Kirk Hinrich is healthy, which pleases Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, the Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton writes.
As you can read in the Tribune, the Bulls like playing Hinrich and superstar Derrick Rose together in their back court. In fact, Hinrich developed chemistry with the future NBA MVP on his first tour with Chicago.
Hinrich on playing with Rose:
"We play a little faster, we play pick and roll on one side, pick and roll on the other side, make the defense move. It's hard to get locked in to what we're doing because we're both in there. Pick and rolls on both sides of the floor are tough to defend."