Yep, you read that right. Days after his one-point debut, former Jayhawk Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets) went off for 20 points (15 in the second quarter) on Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs. The rookie led all scorers in the game with his 7-for-14 shooting (1-5 from three and 5-5 from the free-throw line). He also added three rebounds, three assists and a steal in 22 minutes (full stats here).
Marcus did most of his damage on 6-for-10 shooting as he played all 12 minutes of the second period. Rockets coach Kevin McHale rested his normal starters at the beginning of the second half and started the rookie instead, but Marcus picked up his fifth foul and scored only five points the rest of the way.
Right or wrong, this game and all the stats from it will be marked with a big, bold PRESEASON asterisk. In his 15-point quarter, Marcus was playing against the Spurs starters for only a handful of minutes (page 3 of the scorers report PDF here).
Still, huge game for Marcus, his confidence and — potentially — his teammates and coaches’ confidence in him, as Marcus told the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen after the game.
And a breakout performance just wouldn’t be complete without video highlights:
Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) had three points (all free throws), four rebounds, three assists, three steals and three turnovers in 25 minutes against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday (full stats here).
Drew Gooden (Milwaukee Bucks) scored 15 points (6-for-12 shooting, one three*, made both free-throws) against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He also had three rebounds, an assist, two steals and five fouls in almost 23 minutes (full stats here).
*Yep, it’s the preseason. Gooden is a career 20 percent three-point shooter in the NBA.
“He's scrappy,” Brooks said of Aldrich. “He plays a lot like Nick. Cole just makes those winning basketball plays. He's not going to win a beauty contest. It's not always going to look pretty, but he's always going to be effective. That's what we look at. We don't look at him to score. We look at him to go into every game and setting great screens, getting on the floor, protecting the basketball and making good passes on the perimeter from the outlets.
“Cole's improved. He's gotten better. He really worked over the summer. You can tell. He's had a good (training) camp. I like his toughness around the basket. He guards the paint. He uses his fouls and I don't mind that. I don't think he's going to play enough minutes where we're going to worry about him fouling out, but fouls hard and that's what we want.
“We want guys who are going to protect the basket and use the fouls and don't let them score easy paint points.”
The rookie fouled out in 27 minutes but still had a good debut. He had 10 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes but continues to take 3-point shots. Morris has been a proven mid-range shooter but it seems early for him to stretch his range to 23 feet. He missed twice from there Tuesday night. He had rookie moments where he got lost in coverage. But he plays hard and battles. One time, Morris got no credit but he took on two Nuggets on the boards so that Hakim Warrick could grab it easily.
SunNGun.com took a look at how Markieff might fit into the Suns’ rotation this season.
LeBron James told the Miami Herald that Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) was one of the most improved players in the team’s training camp. Chalmers, the article notes, is about 12 pounds lighter than he was at this time last season.
Still no word on whether Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) will play in the Celtics’ opener on Christmas Day, according to his coach, Doc Rivers.
And finally, Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors), who will practice with his new team for the first time today, would like to remind everyone:
Ppl it's just preseason. The games doesn't even count #relax
Very true, Brandon. But the games that do count start in just three days.