Weekend roundup: Paul Pierce plays 1000th; Markieff Morris fades; Drew Gooden rolls
- Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) reached another milestone in his storied NBA career on Friday, as he played in his 1000th career game. Pierce scored 22 points (7-for-13 overall, 2-for-5 threes, 6-for-7 free throws) and took an early bow, playing just 26 minutes and sitting out the fourth quarter as the Celtics overwhelmed the Portland Trailblazers, 104-86. Pierce tacked on four rebounds, two assists and two steals as he joined some good company in the 1000-game club. His 1001st game didn’t go quite as well, and Pierce had just 13 points on 4-for-14 shooting as Boston lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, 97-94 on Sunday. Pierce had an impressive nine assists and three steals, but he couldn’t grab a single rebound in 38 minutes (full stats here).
Drew Gooden (Milwaukee Bucks) double-doubled, shared the ball and kept up his solid play as Milwaukee picked up a pair of wins this weekend. Gooden had 12 points on 12 shots and turned the ball over six times on Friday, but he grabbed 10 rebounds, including five offensive boards, against the New York Knicks. Gooden also passed out five assists and notched two steals in 32 minutes as the Bucks beat the Knicks, 119-114 (full stats here). On Sunday, Gooden registered his fifth 20-point line in his last eight games, scoring 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting and 7 of 9 free throws in 34 minutes against the Toronto Raptors. He added six rebounds and another five assists, this time to just two turnovers, and BrewHoop.com noted that Gooden “successfully battled foul trouble and managed to do all of the good Drew Gooden stuff without any of the bad.” Milwaukee took down Toronto, 105-99 (full stats here).
Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) scored just five points with zero assists on Saturday against the Indiana Pacers, but the Heat came out ahead, 93-91 in overtime. Chalmers picked up four fouls and played just 26 minutes — most in the first three quarters. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra rolled with backup Norris Cole for much of the fourth quarter before subbing Chalmers back in during the final minutes of regulation. Chalmers then played the first few minutes of overtime before Spoelstra closed out the game without a point guard. Chalmers finished the game with three rebounds, a block and two turnovers. He shot just 2-for-6 for the day, including a 1-for-4 mark from three-point range, which would have been a bit worse if he hadn’t gotten a shooter’s bounce (full stats here).
- Nick Collison (Oklahoma City Thunder) scored two points with six rebounds and two blocked shots in 20 minutes as the Thunder lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 96-90 on Friday (full stats here). He also had two assists, including this pretty pass to All-Everything teammate Kevin Durant:
Possibly encouraged by the success of Friday’s alley-oop, Collison dished out a season-high four assists on Saturday against the Charlotte Bobcats. He also scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked another two shots. He chipped in a steal in his 17 minutes (full stats here).
- Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder) sat out (coach’s decision) as the Thunder lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 96-90 on Friday, but he made the most of his 10 minutes one night later as OKC took on the Charlotte Bobcats. Aldrich snagged three rebounds in three rare second-quarter minutes on Saturday. He then checked back in with seven minutes left in the fourth-quarter blowout, rounding out his stat line with a couple of dunks and a hook shot. Aldrich finished with six points, six rebounds, a steal and zero turnovers/personal fouls. The Thunder won handily, 122-95 (full stats here).
- Xavier Henry (New Orleans Hornets) struggled a bit with his shot this weekend, going 6-for-22 in two games. Henry had 12 points — all in the second half — on 4-for-14 shooting overall and 4-of-4 foul shots as the Hornets lost to the Denver Nuggets, 110-97 on Friday. He also had five rebounds, an assist, two steals and four personal fouls in 25 minutes (full stats here). On Saturday, Henry had four points on 2-for-8 shooting in 20 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He added at least one nice finish at the basket, four rebounds and two assists to zero turnovers as the Hornets won one in Minnesota, 95-89 (full stats here).
After Friday’s game against Denver, Hornets247.com’s Ryan Schwan wrote:
I was floored to see that not only did Henry go right tonight on the way to the basket, he did it three times. He even had a crossover from his left to his right to free himself up from Afflalo, who was clearly riding his left hand. The lefty had a rough shooting night from anywhere not at the rim tonight, but he continues to make me a fan. With his 4-4 shooting performance from the line tonight, he also finally elevated his FT% above 50% and is shooting 85% from the stripe in March. If he can make those foul shots he’s been earning, his value skyrockets.
Kirk Hinrich (Atlanta Hawks) played 17 productive minutes off the bench on Friday against the Detroit Pistons, putting up nine points. Hinrich chipped in just one assist and a steal, but he also had zero turnovers as the Hawks lost, 86-85 (full stats here). On Sunday, Hinrich was back in the starting lineup, this time to match up with the guard-heavy Sacramento Kings. Hinrich played a whopping 42 minutes — his most of the season — and finished with 12 points (5-for-10 overall, 2-for-5 from three), with three rebounds, four assists, two steals and one turnover as the Hawks won, 106-99 (full stats here).
Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns) continued his slide into mediocrity on Saturday as he went scoreless in just three minutes of playing time against the Memphis Grizzlies. Markieff missed all three of his shot attempts (no threes), and though he grabbed two rebounds, he also turned the ball over once and committed two personal fouls. The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro noted that Keef was yanked — quickly — because of his poor defense. The Suns won, 98-91 (full stats here).
In the six games since the All-Star break, Markieff has scored just 10 points total on 3-for-25 shooting (1-for-6 from three, 3-for-4 free-throws). During that stretch, he has not played more than 18 minutes in a night, and in his last two games, Markieff has seen just nine total minutes of playing time.
"We'll give him a chance," (Phoenix coach Alvin) Gentry said before Saturday's game. "We have to have him perform. He's got to be productive and, if not, we'll have to go somewhere else. If he's tired, he still has to have the energy to come out and play. I'm pretty sure Steve Nash and Grant Hill are tired too."
Morris never even experienced a stretch such as this during two years of coming off the bench at Kansas, where he started as a junior before turning pro. After Saturday's first half, Morris had made 8 of his past 50 shots.
"We're winning," Morris said Saturday morning. "That's all that matters. I'm a rookie. Sometimes shots won't fall. It's about winning, so I'm happy for the team."
Morris then turned to throw his gum into a garbage can and missed. It has been that kind of March for Morris …
Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors) didn’t make much noise in a pair of weekend games, but the Warriors beat the Dallas Mavericks, 111-87 on Saturday, and the Los Angeles Clippers, 97-93 on Sunday. Rush tallied two points and shot just 1-for-5 (0-for-4 from three) with five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 24 minutes against the Mavericks (full stats here). He followed that up with a five-point outing against the Clippers, in which he shot 2-for-3 (1-for-1 from three) and grabbed three rebounds (full stats here).
Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets) did not play (coach’s decisions) on Saturday against the New Jersey Nets or Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Rockets split their weekend contests, defeating the Nets, 112-106 on Saturday (game stats here), before losing to the Cavs, 118-107 on Sunday (game stats here).
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) did not play (coach’s decisions) on Saturday vs. the Phoenix Suns or Sunday vs. the Denver Nuggets. The Grizzlies lost to the Suns, 98-91 (game stats here), and beat the Nuggets, 94-91 (game stats here).
Julian Wright (NBA D-League - Austin Toros) hit 5 of 8 shots for 12 points as the Toros won, 114-109 on Saturday. Wright had three assists, two blocks, a steal and just one rebound in 25 minutes in the victory (full stats here). On Sunday, Wright redeemed his rebounding stats, grabbing 11 boards in 33 minutes during a 105-97 loss. He double-doubled with 12 points off of 6-for-14 shooting (full stats here).
Brady Morningstar (NBA D-League - Tulsa 66ers) had a quiet night on Sunday, scoring just two points on 1 of 5 shots as the 66ers won, 81-79. Morningstar also had one rebound, one steal and one turnover in 20 minutes (full stats here).
ESPN’s John Hollinger wrote on Wednesday about players he thinks teams could try to target as part of larger deals before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. Hollinger had this to say about the Houston Rockets’ Marcus Morris and Morris’ teammate Chase Budinger (ESPN Insider subscription required):
Houston is heavily in the hunt for star talent, and these two would be near the top of my list if I were dealing with the Rockets. Budinger has fallen out of favor because of his defensive shortcomings -- it's very difficult to pair him on the wings with Kevin Martin, especially since they don't exactly have Bill Russell playing behind them -- but he can score and has arguably the best contract in the league ($885K next season). Morris was the 14th overall pick and thrashed the D-League during a brief stint down there, but has played only 19 minutes for the parent club after second-round pick Chandler Parsons beat him out.
- Despite recent trade rumors concerning him, Atlanta Hawks guard Kirk Hinrich told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he’s happy where he is:
“I like our team,” Hinrich said before the Hawks played the Kings late Sunday. “I feel like we can be a dangerous team come playoff time. I want to be a part of that.”
- Fox Sports Houston writer (and former KU beat writer) Tully Corcoran gave seldom-used Rockets forward Marcus Morris a little love in his Friday notes:
... the Rockets rely too heavily on a streaky shooting guard and it frequently costs them games. A forward who can post up or face up with a mid-range game could help relieve that pressure significantly.
Fortunately, the Rockets have a player like that in rookie Marcus Morris. Unfortunately, they don't believe he's ready to play defense at the NBA level yet.
I am not necessarily arguing Morris is better than Chandler Parsons, who is having an excellent rookie season. But he would give the Rockets and offensive dimension they now lack, and that dimension would create a more consistent offensive team.
- BrewHoop.com’s Dan Sinclair took a look at the Milwaukee Bucks’ “overpaid and underappreciated” center, Drew Gooden, in a nice writeup. You can read the full feature here, or read an excerpt below:
... Drew Gooden is still overpaid. It isn't so much the dollar amount as it is the length of the contract. After all, Gooden currently ranks 16th in PER among power forwards (even if he's been playing center, he's still a natural 4), ahead of significantly more expensive players like Carlos Boozer and David West. Of course, Drew's career leading up to his signing with Milwaukee never gave any indication that his contract would provide value, especially with the final year representing his age-33 season. There's no way to call Gooden's deal justified without being flat-out revisionist. In single-year terms, however, he's living up to it.
So ignore those looming three years and 20 million dollars for a second, and allow yourself to appreciate Drew Gooden's current season for what it is: a zany, unpredictable, sometimes-superficial-but-always-entertaining campaign of positive production. It's not always pretty, and it hasn't exactly translated into a successful season for the Milwaukee Bucks. But at least Gooden has put to rest the encroaching notion that he's just not very good at basketball.
Jayhawks in upcoming NBA games
6:30 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the New Jersey Nets
7 p.m., Xavier Henry and the New Orleans Hornets vs. the Charlotte Hornets
9 p.m., Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves
9:30 p.m., ESPN, Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics vs. the Los Angeles Clippers
6 p.m., NBA TV, Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. the Orlando Magic
7 p.m., Josh Selby and the Memphis Grizzlies vs. the Los Angeles Lakers
7 p.m., Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Marcus Morris and the Houston Rockets
8 p.m., Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks vs. the Denver Nuggets
9 p.m., Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors vs. the Sacramento Kings