I wonder if Markieff Morris believes in media jinxes. Hoopsworld.com published an interview with the Phoenix Suns rookie on Wednesday, and the website asked Markieff about how he hoped to handle the grueling NBA schedule. His response:
“First thing is to take care of my body. You’ve got to be healthy to play in this league. Second is to play as hard as possible and to always listen. We are only 12 games in, so down the road it probably will get harder. I’ve got to just keep taking care of my body and making sure I’m ready.”
Markieff might have been ready on Wednesday, but his body came down with the flu, which ruined his first ever NBA start (at Madison Square Garden, no less).
Earlier in the day, the Suns (and Markieff’s twin brother, Marcus) had announced that Markieff would replace Channing Frye in the starting lineup against the New York Knicks. Markieff, who felt sick before the game, did start and was matched up against former Suns Rookie of the Year Amare Stoudemire. He looked “very weak,” however, and lasted just five minutes before heading for the locker room (and an IV). He did not return to the game, Michael Jordan retained possession of Most Inspiring “Flu Game” Ever, and Frye started the second half.
In his five minutes, Markieff scored three points (bucket plus free throw) with two steals and two personal fouls (full stats here). Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said after the game that the lineup change was made to try to boost the Suns’ bench production. No word on when/if we’ll see Markieff at full strength/back in the starting lineup.
And because I didn’t post an update on Wednesday...
Tuesday’s night stat line: 4 PTS (1-7 FG, 0-2 3PFG, 2-2 FT), 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 4 PF, 5 TO, 30 minutes
Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) played just 23 minutes in a 96-73 blowout victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. Pierce scored eight points (3 for 10 shooting, no threes, 2 of 2 free throws) with four rebounds and a block. He also managed to pass out a season-high seven assists, despite playing just the first three quarters (full stats here).
Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors) scored seven points with two rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 20 minutes on Wednesday night as the Warriors lost to the New Jersey Nets, 107-100 (full stats here). Rush put up all of his points in 11 first-half minutes, sat out the third quarter and then didn’t attempt a single shot in eight fourth-quarter minutes as the Nets came from behind to win.
Tuesday stat line: 14 PTS (6-11 FG, 2-3 3PFG, 0-0 FT), 5 REB 2 AST, 2 PF, 0 TO, 25 minutes
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) played six minutes as backup point guard for the Grizzlies and scored four points against the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday. The Grizzlies won, 93-87. Selby had one rebound and just one turnover in his (primarily) second-quarter stint (full stats here).
Nick Collison (Oklahoma City Thunder) had six points, three rebounds and an assist in 21 minutes as the Thunder lost, 105-102, to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday (full stats here). Thunder.NBA.com cited Collison again and again for “plays the boxscore won’t show,” including a screen, some fancy passing and a Collison Charge ™.
Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder) did not play (coach’s decision) against the Washington Wizards.
Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) scored 13 points (off of four three-pointers) with four assists and just one turnover on Tuesday as the Heat mounted a ridiculous comeback to beat the San Antonio Spurs, 120-98. Chalmers added two rebounds and a steal in 28 minutes (full stats here). Chalmers led the Heat in scoring in the first quarter with 7 points, but he had trouble defending Spurs point guard Tony Parker, according to Sun Sentinel writer Ira Winderman. To Chalmers’ credit, in the Heat’s 39-12 third quarter, he was on the floor for all 12 minutes, hit two threes and passed out all four of his assists.
Drew Gooden (Milwaukee Bucks) played 11 minutes on Tuesday, even though starting center Andrew Bogut saw just 18 ineffective, foul-plagued minutes. Gooden scored five points (including a vicious alley-oop dunk) and grabbed two rebounds (full stats here, dunk below).
Brady Morningstar (NBA D-League - Tulsa 66ers) continued his hot shooting for the 66ers. Morningstar, who scored 21 and 19 points (with eight made three-pointers) in two games earlier in the week, put up 16, with two more threes, on Wednesday night. He also grabbed four steals and two rebounds in 30 minutes. Morningstar’s line wasn’t perfect, though — he had five turnovers — and Tulsa lost, 108-103, to the Texas Legends (full stats here).
Greg Ostertag (NBA D-League - Texas Legends) went scoreless in just 10 minutes for the Legends on Wednesday night. Ostertag also pulled down a rebound and passed out an assist (full stats here).
Highlights from the game (Langford at 1:04, 2:25 and 2:52):
Can't get enough Langford? Well, recently, in some spare time, Keith tried his hand at singing, recording a cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” with fellow American (and former Alabama player) Richard Hendrix:
Maybe he was inspired by Julian Wright’s foray into the recording biz.
Darnell Jackson (Ukraine-Superleague - BC Donetsk) scored eight points off of perfect 3 for 3 shooting (2 for 2 from the free-throw line) on Tuesday as his team began its run in the Eurocup Last 16 tournament. Jackson played 13 minutes as BC Donetsk won, 96-84 (full stats here). He scored 11 points with three rebounds and an assist in 18 minutes in a Ukranian Superleague game on Saturday (full stats here). BC Donetsk plays again this Saturday.
Sasha Kaun (Russia PBL - CSKA Moscow) was on the court Wednesday as his team competed in its first Euroleague Top 16 tournament game of the year. Kaun scored four points with two rebounds and two steals in 11 minutes as CSKA Moscow won, 92-66 (full stats here). He had an even better performance in a regular season Russian League game over the weekend. Kaun scored 11 points (7-8 free throws) with two steals in 10 minutes last Saturday (full stats here). CSKA Moscow and Kaun will play next on Saturday, this time in a VTB United League game (The team is playing in three different leagues simultaneously, apparently).
Kenny Gregory (formerly of France’s SLUC Nancy) was released by his team in late December, according to Eurobasket.com.
Will Paul Pierce be traded by the Boston Celtics this season? Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski wrote on Tuesday that “several contending teams have inquired about Pierce’s availability.” The article suggests that Pierce, who has been with the Celtics since they drafted him in 1998, might be moved because he still has two years and $32 million left on his contract. Not exactly an ideal scenario for a soon-to-be-rebuilding team.
Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins defended his organization’s trade of Xavier Henry to the New Orleans Hornets in a Wednesday interview. The Commercial Appeal reported that the Grizzlies had to tell Henry, essentially, “it’s not you, it’s me” after injuries left the team without frontcourt depth. Hollins’ exact quote was: “Really, he wasn't a guy I wanted to give up." Henry, who is healing from an ankle injury, is on track to return to the court for the Hornets next week.
Grantland.com’s Sebastian Pruiti released new NBA rookie rankings on Wednesday. Fourth from the top? The Phoenix Suns’ Markieff Morris. Pruiti wrote:
Markieff Morris rises two spots because of his offensive efficiency. Yes, it is still early in the season and sample sizes are small, but as of Sunday, Morris has the highest PPP (1.625) among all NBA players in spot-up shooting situations. And his post play might be even more impressive, since scouts questioned whether he'd be successful with his back to the basket in the pros.
Pruiti throws out a few more numbers to back up his case, includes a video breakdown, and even tosses in a Dirk Nowitzki comparison. You can read the whole article here.
NBA general managers voted on anything and everything in the league’s annual GM survey, and Markieff Morris came away with 3.7 percent of the votes (fifth place) for way-too-early Rookie of the Year.
Julian Wright (free agent, formerly of the Toronto Raptors) is still training in L.A., and, according to a tweet on Monday, he’s waiting for “a situation to arise.”
6:30 p.m., Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics vs. Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns
6:30 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the New York Knicks
6:30 p.m., Josh Selby and the Memphis Grizzlies vs. the Detroit Pistons
9:30 p.m., Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors vs. the Indiana Pacers