Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns) had his third double-figure scoring game of the season as he put up 13 points with nine rebounds and three three-pointers against the Portland Trailblazers on Friday. Markieff also added an assist and a block in 31 minutes as the Suns won, 102-77 (full stats here).
Markieff still picked up four fouls, but they didn’t affect his playing time on Friday like they had in other games this season.
Markieff was matched up some on Trailblazers star (and former Texas Longhorn) LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 28 points against the Los Angeles Lakers a night before and 30 points against Nick Collison and Oklahoma City on Tuesday. On Friday, Markieff and the Phoenix bigs held Aldridge to 14 points on 6 of 14 shooting.
Kevin Pelton, who writes for ESPN Insider and basketballprospectus.com, had some praise for Markieff during Friday’s game:
I'd take Markieff Morris on my team any day. Already plays like a 10-year vet.
Even Missouri Tigers guard Marcus Denmon gave it up for his former rival.
And before the game on Friday, ESPN draft guru Chad Ford called Markieff the biggest rookie surprise of the season so far. From ESPN.com:
For most of his Kansas career, Morris played in the shadow of twin brother Marcus. But, in the first six games of the season it's Markieff who has made his mark. I thought he was a solid prospect, but I didn't expect this much this soon.
One of the biggest surprises has been Markieff's immediate production in the Suns’ high-volume shooting scheme. In his last year at KU, Markieff made 22 three-pointers on 54 tries (40 percent) in 34 games. With his three three-pointers on Friday (including a crazy-long 28-footer with 1:47 left in the fourth), Markieff has now hit 9 of 17 threes (53 percent) through seven NBA games.
After the game, Markieff spoke with reporters in the Suns’ locker room:
For his 13-year career, Pierce has had only one other game in which he's hoisted at least 17 shots and came out with a lower field goal percentage (April 1, 2001 vs. Charlotte, when he was 3 for 19 with 12 points in a loss). This is only the 10th game in the Big Three era in which he's shot 17.6 percent or worse from the field overall.
"I felt good, it just didn't fall," he shrugged.
Nick Collison (Oklahoma City Thunder) scored nine points with three rebounds, two assists and a steal against the Houston Rockets on Friday (full stats here). Collison played 24 minutes as Oklahoma City, which led by 27 at one point, won, 109-94. It was the first game of a back-to-back-to-back for the Thunder, who play the Rockets again tonight before taking on the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder) subbed in for Nick Collison with 1:36 left in the fourth quarter and did not record a single statistic for the Thunder on Friday (game stats here).
Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors) scored just two points on his only attempted basket in six minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday (full stats here). Rush lost playing time to newly signed Golden State guard Nate Robinson (31 minutes) and rookie Klay Thompson (21 minutes).
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) did not play (coach’s decision) against the Utah Jazz on Friday. The Jazz won, 94-85 (game stats here).
Marcus and the Vipers play again tonight at 7. You can catch that game for free online at the official D-League website.
NBA.com talked to Ostertag by phone before the game on Friday and posted the five-minute video here.
The Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman wrote a piece that I could copy in its entirety to the blog. But I won't. You can read the whole article here.
A few choice quotes:
"He is getting much better at picking his spots and making teams have to guard him, and when they don't, he exploits it," (Heat coach Erik) Spoelstra said. "And he can do it in a lot of different ways now. He's getting much better off the dribble. He can stretch you out to three and then in our system now, with his understanding of it, defensively he can make some plays with his instincts and his ability to steal the ball.
"I was pleased, more than all of that, in his ability to run the team, organize the team and do it in the moment of truth, down the stretch, when we needed it and he showed up big as our point guard."
"He can be the point guard of the future," forward Udonis Haslem said. "He had to go through a maturation process to get there, and he's arrived. He's capable of having games like this."
Tonight Mario might have a chance to prove that Thursday wasn’t a fluke. Heat stars LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, who sat out during Chalmers’ 29-point outing, are questionable for tonight’s game against the New Jersey Nets. (UPDATE, 12:05 p.m. — James and Wade are now game time decisions and are likely to play, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst and others)
If you missed the game on Thursday, YouTube has you covered. Three minutes of Chalmers highlights from the Heat-Hawks game:
Drew Gooden (Milwaukee Bucks) might be in line for a few more starts. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Bucks starting center Andrew Bogut (missed the team’s last two games for personal reasons) might return by Tuesday. If the report is true, Gooden would start in Bogut’s place tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers, and Sunday against the Phoenix Suns.
Xavier Henry (New Orleans Hornets) was officially cleared to join his new team on Friday. The trade that sent Henry from Memphis to New Orleans wasn’t finalized immediately because, according to the Commercial Appeal, the Hornets were concerned about Henry’s knee, which kept him out of a good number of games last season.
The Commercial Appeal also reports that Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) has a Jan. 25 court date for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Grizzlies GM told the Commercial Appeal that the team would withhold judgment. Selby, for his part, gave a “no comment.”
On Thursday, the Golden State Warriors posted a getting-to-know-you interview with Brandon Rush. The five minute video touches on a number of topics and includes quite a few highlights of Rush in a Warriors uniform.
6:30 p.m., Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. the New Jersey Nets
7 p.m., Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the Houston Rockets
9:30 p.m., NBATV, Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Los Angeles Clippers
9:30 p.m., Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors vs. the Utah Jazz