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Markieff Morris continues hot start; Marcus puts up 33-16-5 in NBADL debut

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:


Friday recap


Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce (34) reacts after being called for a foul in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Boston, Friday, Jan. 6, 2012. The Pacers won 87-74.

Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce (34) reacts after being called for a foul in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Boston, Friday, Jan. 6, 2012. The Pacers won 87-74. by Nick Gerik

  • Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) had a rough night on Friday. Pierce hit just three of 17 shots for 10 points and committed five turnovers in 37 minutes as the Indiana Pacers beat the Celtics, 87-74. Pierce added seven rebounds, three assists and a steal (full stats here).

ESPN.com put the poor shooting performance in perspective:

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).


Other notes

  • Marcus Morris looked the part of an NBA lottery pick on Friday as he made his NBA D-League debut with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Marcus scored 33 points with 16 rebounds, five assists and two steals in 37 minutes. Marcus shot an efficient 13 of 24 from the field and added three three-pointers on six tries, including a potential game-winning three that fell short at the buzzer (full 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.

  • Greg Ostertag (NBA D-League - Texas Legends) scored seven points with seven rebounds, an assist and a block in 10 minutes on Friday (full stats here).

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."

and

"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.


Jayhawks in upcoming NBA games

Saturday, Jan. 7

  • 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

;

Comments

Ashwin Rao 2 years, 7 months ago

Love the summary... Nice to know that some of the folks are doing extremely well! All the best to them!

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Jeremy Paul 2 years, 7 months ago

I was watching the Suns-Blazers game last night, and toward the end they had a little promo for the games being aired on ESPNU today--including the KU-OU game. Then they showed Markieff and the play-by-play announcer (I'm not sure who it was)said, "I'm sure Markieff will be tuning in to watch the Jayhawks." And Raftery--who was the announcing partner--said, "You know, if I was a big-man, I'd want to play for Bill Self." He went on to say that he saw a Bill Self clinic and he loved how he runs the high/low and gets the big men involved, and they talked about Manning too. I'm not sure how many potential recruits were watching the final minutes of a 30-point blowout at 1:00 am on a Friday night, but it was still pretty cool to hear. And it made me like Raftery even more. Rock Chalk!

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Steven Mathew 2 years, 7 months ago

Actually, the commentators were Dan Shulman (who usually calls college B-ball games) and Hubie Brown. Hubie Brown was the one making those comments. My favorite team is the Suns in the NBA, so I made sure I watched that game.

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wtf45 2 years, 7 months ago

Great Job on this. Love reading it everday. Keep up the good work.

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Joe Joseph 2 years, 7 months ago

I would have never guessed it would have been Markieff having the better rookie season than Marcus. I guess it all depends on what team you get put on and the pieces around you. Marcus is too talented to be wasted on the bench or in the D-League.

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Robin Smith 2 years, 7 months ago

The differences in their abilities has always been exaggerated, due in part to them playing different positions.

It's not so surprising that Markieff is making this splash because he plays for a team with a shallow frontcourt.

Marcus' situation is fairly predictable too because the Rockets (along with the Spurs) have been leading the charge in utilizing the D-League as a true farm system and almost every player they draft will spend time there.

They will ultimately both be high-value starters who play efficiently with good D. Marcus may nose ahead with his position and ability to create his own shot, while Markieff will likely always be a post player whether that's his only option or not, because quality bigs are needed.

Long answer shortened, they are both awesome, the way things are going shouldn't be too surprising, and they will both end up where Jayhawk fans think they should :)

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JayHawkFanToo 2 years, 7 months ago

Most scouts predicted that Markieff would do better in the NBA because he plays at his natural position where Marcus is considered a "tweener." Once he finds the right position, likely the 3, he will do well. Don't forget that Kieff was selected one spot ahead of Marcus in the NBA Draft.

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Lanny Welch 2 years, 7 months ago

It's early but Markieff is looking like the rookie of the year.

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Steven Mathew 2 years, 7 months ago

Let's not forget that Ricky Rubio is looking pretty good too.

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txhawk06 2 years, 7 months ago

I agree, great job Nick! I love reading this every day! KUsports is the best site out there.

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FLJHK 2 years, 7 months ago

I too enjoy these summaries. I've gotten more into the NBA in recent years without any one particular favorite team. Until the playoffs, my main interest is in the performances of NBA Jayhawks.

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Steve Gantz 2 years, 7 months ago

Any word on Kirk Hinrich? Box scores mentioned DNP because of injury.

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Robin Smith 2 years, 7 months ago

Hinrich was projected to return early January from a shoulder injury which was being re-examined this week. He may have had lingering issues or it might just be precautionary, but the results of this examination will reveal the expected return, whether he's back next week or in a couple more weeks.

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justoneperson 2 years, 7 months ago

Agreed, these updates are awesome!

The only thing that would make these better is some information on the players in Europe (a couple of my all time favorite Jayhawks are overseas).

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Nick Gerik 2 years, 7 months ago

Several of the overseas Jayhawks (Langford, Kaun, Miles, Jackson) are still on break, but I've been posting updates on others (Collins, Robinson, Reed, Little) as I see them. If you're looking for news on a specific Jayhawk, I can point you to the right blog post.

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Eride 2 years, 7 months ago

Awesome blog Nick, keep it up!

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TopJayhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, this is what I want to see. Not the silly crap they used to post. didn't really tell you anything. Thanks.

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AsadZ 2 years, 7 months ago

Great job Nick. Keep up the good work.

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