Paul Pierce climbs NBA scoring list; Xavier Henry earns minutes; Marcus Morris sets new career-high
- Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics) made another impressive step in his cementing his Hall of Fame career on Thursday as he scored an efficient 25 points and passed NBA great Clyde Drexler for 26th on the league’s all-time scoring list. Pierce, who now has 22,196 points in just over 13 seasons, passed Drexler with a 10-for-15 shooting line, including a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown and 2-for-3 from the foul line. He added nine rebounds, two assists, a steal and two blocks in 34 minutes as the Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 100-91 (full stats here). Thirteen of Pierce’s 22,196 points came on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks. In that game, Pierce struggled, hitting just 4 of 14 shots, missing all three three-point attempts, committing five fouls and turning the ball over four times. He also had five rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes (full stats here).
The captain displayed the full brunt of his offensive game in the opening period, as his first bucket came on a cut to the basket off of a feed from Kevin Garnett on the right side, and he followed that up with a 3-pointer from the left wing, and then another jump shot off of a screen on the right side. Pierce tallied 11 points in the first quarter (helping to jump-start Boston's offense), 10 in the third, and four in the final frame, with all of them coming during Boston's 16-6 game-changing run.
Pierce’s pursuit of a spot in the NBA’s Top 25 scorers might be a bit tougher to predict. San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan currently holds 25th place with 22,282 points. Pierce’s Celtics teammate Ray Allen sits at No. 24 with 22,884 points.
- Kirk Hinrich (Atlanta Hawks) scored nine points with two rebounds and three assists to three turnovers in 36 minutes against the Boston Celtics on Monday. Hinrich, who started at shooting guard, did his best to chase Celtics shooter Ray Allen throughout the game. Hinrich’s aggressive defense drew praise from ESPN’s John Hollinger and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Michael Cunningham, but Allen still scored 19 points on a cool 5 of 9 shots (including four three-pointers) and the Celtics won, 79-76 (full stats here). On Wednesday, Hinrich played a ragged 37 minutes in a 103-102 overtime win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He had 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting from the field (2-for-5 from three) and fouled out after picking up his fifth and sixth fouls in OT. Hinrich’s final foul came off of a steal attempt with 30 seconds left in the 101-101 game. Cleveland hit 1 of 2 at the line, but Atlanta sealed the victory with a two-point shot. Hinrich chipped in four rebounds, three assists (including two in OT) and two steals to just one turnover (full stats here).
- Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors) stitched together three decent offensive performances this week. Rush scored nine points (4-for-9 overall, 1-for-4 from three) with three rebounds, three assists and a block in 31 minutes as the Warriors lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday (full stats here). On Wednesday, Rush exploded for 16 points (off of 6-of-10 shooting and 4-of-7 threes) with two rebounds, a steal and two blocks in 30 minutes as the W’s beat the New Orleans Hornets, 101-92 (full stats here). Then, on Thursday, Rush had nine points — though he hit just 1 of 6 three-point attempts — three rebounds, two assists and three blocks in 24 minutes as the Houston Rockets blew out Golden State, 109-83 (full stats here).
- Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) finished with just one point in 32 minutes on Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns, but he helped his team win a 99-95 battle by putting up impressive numbers in the assists and steals categories. Chalmers dished out eight assists and snagged five steals, which tied season-highs for the fourth-year point guard. It was also the second time this season that Chalmers did not hit a single shot attempt — he was 0-for-3 from the field and 0-for-1 from three on the night (full stats here).
- Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns) didn’t back down from the Miami Heat on Tuesday, scoring 12 points in 22 minutes as the Heat edged out the Suns, 99-95. Markieff hit 4 of 7 shots, including 1 of 2 threes and 3 of 5 free throws, while collecting four rebounds, a steal and a block (full stats here). He also committed five fouls, including this take down of Heat star LeBron James. Markieff’s most impressive play of the night was when he pulled off a variation on the Darrell Arthur Memorial Block/Sprint/Slam Sequence ™
On Wednesday, against the Orlando Magic, Keef had nine points, with one three-pointer, and three rebounds to three personal fouls in 26 minutes. The Suns lost to the Magic, 103-93 (full stats here).
- Nick Collison (Oklahoma City Thunder) had six point, two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 19 minutes vs. the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. The Thunder lost, 97-90 (full stats here).Collison followed that up with four points, five rebounds and an assist in a 114-91 blowout of the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday (full stats here). He also combined with Thunder forward Serge Ibaka to limit Clippers’ star Blake Griffin to seven points on 3-for-11 shooting.
- Reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week Drew Gooden (Milwaukee Bucks) scored 19 points on smooth 8-for-12 shooting, including a three-pointer, as the Bucks topped the Portland Trail Blazers, 116-87 on Tuesday. Gooden had 13 points in the first quarter alone and kept distributing the ball, passing out five assists to go with four rebounds in 31 minutes (full stats here). Gooden took the same number of shots on Thursday against the Boston Celtics, but finished with an ugly 2-for-12 line and just six points — his lowest total since Feb. 3. Gooden added three rebounds, three assists and two blocks, but was blocked three times himself and played just 25 minutes in the loss (full stats here).
- Xavier Henry (New Orleans Hornets), fresh from a one-game D-League stint, scored 13 points on 14 shots on Wednesday as the Hornets lost to the Golden State Warriors, 101-92. Henry shot 6-for-14 overall, made 1 of 2 free throws and did not attempt a three-pointer. He added three rebounds, two assists and a steal to one turnover in 25 minutes (full stats here). Henry turned around and corrected his shooting woes on Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers. He scored in double digits again, but this time he had 12 points on just four shots. His efficiency was helped out by a 3-for-4 line overall and a 5-for-6 mark from the free-throw stripe. In another 25 minutes on the court, Henry chipped in three rebounds, one assist and zero turnovers. He also nailed one big-time three-pointer with three minutes left that put the Hornets up by seven en route to a 97-90 victory (full stats here). Henry played all 12 fourth-quarter minutes in the win.
Xavier was really quiet in the first half, but in the second he did some damage all over the place. He brought his normal aggression, and fitting with his name, he gave it to the Clippers. 12 points on 4 shots? I’ll take that with a side of BBQ sauce please. He was really active on the boards also, even if he didn’t get many of them.
Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets) did not play (coach’s decision) on Tuesday in a 107-104 Rockets win over the Los Angeles Lakers. On Thursday, Marcus played almost eight minutes toward the end of a 109-83 Rockets victory over the Golden State Warriors. Marcus hit 3 of 6 shots (no threes) and was 2-for-2 from the foul line for eight points — a new career-high. He also had two fouls and a turnover (full stats here).
Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder) did not play (coach’s decision) as the Thunder lost to the Utah Jazz, 97-90 (game stats here). Aldrich did play, however, at the end of a 114-91 shellacking of the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. He scored two points off of his only shot attempt (an eight-foot hook shot) and blocked one shot in his four minutes at the end of the game (full stats here).
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) played just over a minute on Tuesday as the Grizzlies lost to the Sacramento Kings, 119-110. Selby missed his only shot, a three-point heave at the final buzzer (full stats here). He did not play on Thursday (coach’s decision) as the Grizzlies lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, 97-93 (game stats here).
Julian Wright (NBA D-League - Austin Toros) had 10 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes as the Toros won, 113-103 on Wednesday. Wright, who committed four fouls and turned the ball over twice, also registered two steals and two blocks (full stats here). In nine games with Austin, Wright has averaged 12.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.3 steals, .8 blocks and nearly 62-percent shooting.
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) will soon have more competition in practice, as the Grizzlies just signed veteran and former All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas. But that could be a good thing for Selby, a seldom-used rookie. From a Q&A with Arenas in the Commercial Appeal:
Q. What are your expectations for this situation in Memphis?
A. To get better, have fun and enjoy it. You know, I don't expect to take over. This team is well built. If I get some time, I get some time. But I also want to help Josh (Selby) and (Jeremy) Pargo learn the game a little better so when their careers take off they've gotten some good advice from a veteran.
- Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris’ rookie season has been a bit turbulent at times. None more so than Sunday against the Houston Rockets, when Markieff made what one YouTube user called “the worst consecutive passes in NBA history”:
- The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel points out that the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Nick Collison is among a short (and distinguished) list of players who have been with the same team for at least nine years:
… Collison remains a Thunder essential. Tough defense, screens galore, occasional scoring touch. The Thunder always seems to play better with Collison on the floor. Which is no coincidence. Teams often try to keep their stars as the core, and rotate role players in and out of the roster over a period of years. But the Thunder has made Collison a virtual lifer; he’s under contract through summer 2015. Sam Presti gave Collison a huge signing bonus in November 2010, which basically made Collison a $13-million player for that season. But the payoff was that Collison would remain a Boomer the next four years, making $3.2 million, $2.9 million, $2.5 million and $2.2 million.
You give a bonus like that to guys you can count on. And the Thunder can count on Collison. This organization has counted on him, for longer than all but a handful of players in the NBA.
- Scout Inc.’s David Thorpe put together a Rookie Redraft for ESPN.com on Wednesday. In the article, which is available to ESPN Insider subscribers only, Thorpe took the 2011-12 rookie class and redrafted them based on their performance to date. Both Markieff Morris (13th to the Phoenix Suns) and Marcus Morris (14th to the Houston Rockets) fell in the hypothetical scenario.
Instead, Markieff went 16th to the Philadelphia 76ers, where Thorpe wrote:
Either Morris twin would work here, simply because Philly needed perimeter shooting heading into the draft. With Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young at the power forward spot, Markieff makes more sense than Marcus. He's an excellent shooter, he's from Philly and he's the kind of guy Doug Collins would love to coach.
Marcus went 18th to the Washington Wizards:
Morris hasn't done anything yet as a pro, but the young man is stuck with a coach who does not believe in him. In Washington he'd have been playing from day one and would be the surprise guy of this draft. In Leonard and Morris, the Wiz would have two solid rotation players with at least one starter.
- Speaking of the Morrii, the Topeka Capital-Journal’s Jeremy Deckard wrote about Markieff and Marcus’ reunion earlier this week. There are some great quotes (you can read the whole thing here), but this one section stood out:
Both brothers shared time on and off the court Sunday, and the two sat next to each other for several minutes before team warm-ups.
“It was great moment,” Marcus said of the time spent with his brother. “It was a time to catch up with him.”
The conversation consisted of more than just catching up, however.
“We were talking about the Kansas game,” Markieff said. “We were both trying to figure out how we could keep track of the score of the game.”
- John Reid of the Times Picayune wrote about New Orleans Hornets swingman Xavier Henry’s recent trip to the D-League. It sounds like things are looking up for Henry:
“I think when you are sent to the D-League, it makes you more hungry because a lot of guys down there want your position, and they are going to come at you like you are the prize,” Hornets point guard Jarrett Jack said. “For him, it was kind of a wake-up call.
“Since he came back, it seems like he has had a fire beneath him, showing a little more effort. The thing with younger guys is getting them to play hard all the time.”
(Hornets coach Monty) Williams said he plans to extend Henry’s playing time, starting with tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors, as long as he continues to make progress.
“There are a lot of teaching points, and I have to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes twice,” said Henry, who has a year remaining on his rookie-scaled contract after this season.
- Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce got into the spirit of March Madness with a blog post at Boston.com on Thursday:
We’re only at the Sweet 16 and my Kansas guys already have me on the edge of my seat! That game against Purdue was intense. They were really handing it to us, but we were able to keep our composure and make a late comeback to pull it out in the end.
Hummel really had it going, but Coach Self made some great adjustments and it paid off. Basketball is all about rhythm and getting it going at the right time, and that’s exactly what KU did. That’s what you’ve got to do during March Madness, its win or go home and watch the rest of the action from your couch.
This year’s tournament has been great with all the upsets and surprises. While it’s been exciting to watch, it’s also got my bracket a little out of whack. No one could have predicted some of these outcomes, and I’ve got to say, as the competitive guy I am, I’m not too happy about being less than 50 percent with only seven of my picks making the Sweet 16. The great news though is that there’s a lot of unbelievable basketball being played.
- Milwaukee Bucks center Drew Gooden answered some fan questions in a YouTube video for Bucks.com. Gooden had some fun with it and even compared himself to a cockroach at one point:
Jayhawks in upcoming NBA games
6 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Charlotte Bobcats
6 p.m., Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns vs. the Indiana Pacers
6:30 p.m., Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks vs. the New Jersey Nets
6:30 p.m., Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. the Detroit Pistons
7 p.m., ESPN, Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics vs. the Philadelphia 76ers
7 p.m., Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves
2 p.m., Josh Selby and the Memphis Grizzlies vs. the Los Angeles Clippers
6 p.m., Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks vs. the Washington Wizards
7 p.m., Xavier Henry and the New Orleans Hornets vs. the San Antonio Spurs
7 p.m., NBATV, Marcus Morris and the Houston Rockets vs. the Dallas Mavericks
7:30 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Indiana Pacers
9:30 p.m., NBATV, Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors vs. the Sacramento Kings