Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) scored just nine points on Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, bringing an end to a seven-game stretch of double-figure scoring. Chalmers played just 24 minutes (including the final five minutes) as the Heat beat the Cavs, 92-85. He shot the ball just four times, making a floater and a three, with four free throws and added a rebound, a steal and three assists to go along with three turnovers — all from the first quarter (full stats here).
Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns) started again for the Suns on Tuesday night, but he spent just 16 minutes on the floor against the Toronto Raptors. Nine of those minutes came in the third quarter, when Markieff was matched up with Raptors star Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani absolutely torched the rookie — “lost on defense,” one observer said — scoring 18 points in that span. Markieff sat the rest of the game and finished with four points, one rebound and one assist (full stats here). The Suns lost, 99-96, as Bargnani finished with 36 points. It was just the third time in 17 games that Markieff did not attempt a three-pointer.
Before Markieff’s poor showing on Tuesday, Suns coach Alvin Gentry had said he wouldn’t rule out moving “the rookie” back to the bench. From the Arizona Republic:
"The rookie (Morris), I'm still trying to figure out if that's a good move or not. He's going up against all frontline players now, and I'm not sure that's the right thing for him right now."
"He was playing really good basketball," Gentry said of Morris before the change. "We went 2-1 with him as a starter so is he a factor defensively and rebounding? We have to take a look at that"
Even after Henry’s less-than-stellar rookie season, exercising the option isn't much of a risk for the Hornets, as AtTheHive.com’s Rohan Cruyff wrote on Monday:
Putting the injuries aside, Xavier Henry failed in 2011-2012 because in an extremely small sample, he failed to do the very thing (shooting, shooting, shooting) that for 19 years had made him a very good basketball player. Importantly, he didn't fail to do these things because defenders were closing him out too strongly, because he couldn't get open against better defenders, or because he couldn't adapt to the NBA three line. Nope. He just missed shots over and over and over again.
Cruyff goes into a good detail on why big things might be ahead for Henry this season. You can read the rest here.
Nick Collison (Oklahoma City Thunder) did not practice on Tuesday, but according to the Oklahoman’s John Rohde, Collison is day-to-day, leaving him something of a chance to play today.
Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski suggested that the Bulls, who are concerned about injured small forward Luol Deng, might want to try to trade for Boston’s Paul Pierce. You can listen to Woj’s radio interview here (the Pierce bit is at the 7-minute mark).
Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns) moved down two spots to sixth place in Grantland.com’s latest NBA rookie rankings. Grantland's Sebastian Pruiti wrote:
Morris' post-up and spot-up skills have made him a useful offensive weapon for the Suns, but he needs to take better care of the ball. According to Synergy Sports, Morris has committed turnovers on 16.3 percent of his offensive possessions. Morris is especially careless in the post, where he turns the ball over 9.7 percent of the time. These turnovers represent a critical lost opportunity for the Suns considering how efficient a scorer Morris has been on the low block. When Morris posts up, he scores 1.065 points per possession. That's in the top 13 percent of all NBA players. Essentially, this means that every time Morris loses the ball in the post, the Suns lose a point. Most of Morris' turnovers occur when he is double-teamed. Many young big men struggle with double teams in the low post, and if Morris can learn to handle these defensive schemes he should be able to curtail his turnovers.
(through Jan. 23)
t-2 . Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors) - 54.5 percent (24 of 44 threes)
6 . Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns) - 48.6 percent (17 of 35)
19 . Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) - 44.3 percent (31 of 70)
t-30 . Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) - 41.2 percent (21 of 51)
Markieff’s 48.6 percent is also the best among all NBA rookies.
Brandon Rush averaged .88 blocks per game through 16 games, which was the second-best mark among NBA guards.
Mario Chalmers was ranked 19th in steals with 1.56 per game through 16 games.
Nick Collison (Oklahoma City Thunder) ranked in the top 10 of NBA defenders, sorted by points allowed per possession (minimum 100 possessions).
Mario Chalmers was fourth in the league in total plus-minus (net points scored while he was on the floor). In his 500 minutes this season, Chalmers and his teammates scored 1,079 points and allowed just 932.
Mario Chalmers was sixth in the NBA in true-shooting percentage with 64.4 percent (From basketball-reference.com: “True shooting percentage is a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws.”)
This is a large, drawn-out “What If?” but bear with me: Mario Chalmers is currently shooting 50 percent from the field, 44 percent from three, and an ugly 76 percent from the free-throw line. Why ugly, you ask? Because if Chalmers could just hit his free throws at a better clip and if he could sustain his other percentages, he’d be in some excellent company — the 50-40-90 club. Players with those percentages in a single season include Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and this guy named Larry Bird. Granted, it’s a whale of a hypothetical since Chalmers is a 77.7 percent free-throw shooter in his NBA career (76.7 in college). The one reason for hope? In 2010-2011, he hit 87 percent of his shots from the line.
6:30 p.m., Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. the Detroit Pistons
7 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Houston Rockets
7 p.m., Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Xavier Henry and the New Orleans Hornets
7:30 p.m., Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks vs. the San Antonio Spurs
9:30 p.m., Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors vs. the Portland Trailblazers