We took a break for the Christmas holiday, but the NBA didn’t.
Here’s what you may have missed:
Miami’s Mario Chalmers got fancy with a pass to LeBron James on Friday.
The Lakers’ Xavier Henry drew an and-one against Miami on Christmas Day.
Oklahoma City’s Nick Collison set up his teammates against the Knicks on Christmas Day
Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce showed some life in those 36-year-old legs on Saturday against Indiana.
Phoenix’s Markieff Morris put back a buzzer-beating offensive rebound against Philadelphia on Saturday.
Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat (Dec. 28 / W, 108-107 at POR)
Marcus Morris, Phoenix Suns (Dec. 28 / W, 115-101 vs. PHI)
Marcus Morris, Phoenix Suns (Dec. 23 / W, 117-90 vs. LAL)
Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns (Dec. 20 / W, 103-99 at DEN)
Paul Pierce, Brooklyn Nets (Dec. 20 / L, 121-120 OT at PHI)
Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings (Dec. 20 / L, 122-103 at MIA)
Los Angeles Lakers early-season surprise and part-time starter Xavier Henry injured his right knee on Sunday against Philadelphia.
"I just landed awkwardly on my leg when I was about to plant," Henry said. He added that his knee "feels weird" and "a little loose," saying that it "kind of buckled" but was only experiencing minimal swelling.
On Monday afternoon, Henry was diagnosed with a bone bruise and some cartilage damage but "nothing too severe," a source told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. The Lakers will reevaluate Henry in a week to 10 days.
Meanwhile, Denver’s Darrell Arthur missed two games with a “right quad contusion” before returning on Monday. Arthur celebrated with a near-season-high 13 points and his first made three of the season.
Chicago’s Kirk Hinrich was sidelined for about five games with a back injury that he attributed to “wear and tear.” Hinrich returned to action on Christmas Day and played alongside fill-in starter and fellow Big 12 alum D.J. Augustin.
"He's a great decision-maker, a knockdown shooter," Hinrich said of Augustin. "Me personally, just get my minutes down a little bit so I can just stay healthier. I feel like I'm more effective that way too."
First Xavier Henry over Jeff Withey. Now LeBron James over Ben McLemore:
Rookie Jayhawks in the NBA are now 0-for-2 when trying to draw charges on devastating dunkers. Let that be a lesson to next year’s KU draft class: not everyone can be Nick Collison.
Luckily, McLemore’s spirit wasn’t broken by the play, and a few others, including James, shared some kind words after the game. From the Sacramento Bee:
“Just knowing LeBron, I knew they weren’t going to call that call (a charge on James),” McLemore said. “I was just playing my defensive principles. Going in, being the low man and taking the charge.”
Said Kings coach Michael Malone: “Ben is a fearless kid. I love his heart ... Some guys would duck and get of the way because they do not want be on the ESPN highlight tape. Ben is a competitor. He hates to lose.”
Said James: “As a defender it is a split second (decision) and if you make the wrong decision then that is what can happen. I have been fortunate enough to to be on the other end of a lot of those plays. It sucks that it was him too because I like him. I have been talking to him since he was in high school so that sucks.
"At some point, you just cut your losses and do the fake trip and say, ‘Oh well, I tried.’"
The holidays also saw a pair of flagrant fouls by the league’s Jayhawks.
Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce clotheslined Indiana’s George Hill on Dec. 23. Pierce was ejected and, a day later, fined $15,000 by the league.
Several nights later, on Dec. 27, Miami’s Mario Chalmers was tagged with a flagrant for contact with Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins.
After the game, Chalmers accused Cousins of flopping on the play. From the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
"I asked them, 'Why was that a flagrant foul,' " he said. "They said, 'Unnecessary roughness.' I said, 'How? He shot the ball and I was going for a box out.' I said, 'If I could move 285 that easily then what does that tell you?' "
Chalmers is now one of this season’s leaders in flagrant fouls, a potentially costly distinction. Again, from the Sun Sentinel:
Once a player reaches seven flagrant points (one for a Flagrant 1, two for a Flagrant 2), all suspensions are for two games, all without pay. At Chalmers' $4 million salary, each game suspended is $36,000 in lost pay.
Chalmers already has sat out one game for his Flagrant 2 foul against Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki in November. Following that incident, coach Erik Spoelstra advised him of the stakes going forward.
"I've been trying to stay out of all altercations, keep my elbows down, and if I still get something like that, that's unpredictable," Chalmers said.
Chalmers previously was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul for a Nov. 7 elbow to the neck of Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin.
Chalmers’ almost-triple-double: Miami faced Portland on Saturday without the NBA’s active leader in triple-doubles, LeBron James, and Mario Chalmers did his best to fill in with nine points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
"I wouldn't say he loves it when guys are out," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's not rooting for guys to be out. But he certainly relishes the chance to shoulder more responsibility."
As for the one point, one rebound and one assist that kept him from his first triple-double? To hear Chalmers tell it (via BleacherReport’s Ethan J. Skolnick), he had at least two assists that weren’t counted.
Pierce a starter again: Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce, who spent most of December coming off the bench after returning from injury, regained his starting job in the last two games. Frontcourt injuries and absences forced the move for the 10-20 Nets. Unfortunately for them, Pierce’s stats as a starter and reserve are nearly identical this season, with career-low 40 percent shooting and scoring in the low double-digits.
#LegendOfTheMorrii: Phoenix’s Marcus and Markieff Morris were the focus of a recent episode of NBATV’s “Inside Stuff.”
T-Rob benched: Portland’s Thomas Robinson hasn’t gotten off the bench in the last four games for the Trail Blazers. He appeared in the Blazers’ first 27 games, but coach Terry Stotts recently swapped Robinson for fellow second-year pro Meyers Leonard. BlazersEdge.com’s Ben Golliver looked at the motives behind the move, and Dane Carbaugh broke down some film on the players:
Cole "Basically Furniture" Aldrich. Poor Cole Aldrich has averaged just 3.3 minutes in 13 games this season for the New York Knicks. You know, those Knicks. New York’s unwillingness to use Aldrich despite a glaring frontcourt issues has led to great quips from Knicks fans on Twitter, including the aforementioned nickname and this tweet from Yahoo Sports’ Dan Devine:
"Hey, Cole!" "Yes, Coach?" "Go check to see if we have any more of that spiral ham in the locker room." "… OK, Coach."
Even when Aldrich does see time on the court, it’s not too encouraging. His five-minute garbage-time stint on Christmas Day earned him the moniker “Cole Somedrich.” At the very least, more Knicknames should be in store with Monday’s news that New York chose to cut reserve Chris Smith rather than Aldrich.
No baskets for Brandon: Utah’s Brandon Rush hasn’t scored a basket in six games (eight if you count DNPs Saturday and Monday). Rush has taken just eight shots over that span, bringing his season total to a measly 25 attempts in 13 games (11.9 mpg).
Taylor time: Brooklyn’s Tyshawn Taylor was assigned to the NBA D-League’s Springfield Armor for two games … and then recalled in time to play four total minutes in two games with the Nets. Since starting guard Deron Williams returned to the lineup, Taylor has played just 14 total minutes in five of 10 games.
Good news, Ben McLemore! The Kings may be 9-20, but early figures reveal that Sacramento has seen the biggest increase in attendance since last year. A stay of execution from the NBA — not to mention a new owner/GM/coach combo and a few trades — will do that to a franchise. For more on the attendance figures, head over to SBNation.com.
Lakers’ Xavier Henry on texting KU teammate Jeff Withey post-dunk-heard-around-the-world, via Grantland.com:
"He said he was doing all right," said Henry, the Lakers' 6-foot-6 swingman. "It was just one of his 'welcome to the league' moments. He said he learned not to take no charges no more."
On Sacramento’s Ben McLemore, from SBNation.com’s Tom Ziller:
The rookie was not good on Sunday. He had a rough time on offense, and he got torched quite a bit on defense. But he played 31 minutes, including all of crunch time. And I am totally fine with that, and legitimately prefer it to any other option. You don't learn how to play at the NBA level wearing warmups. You learn on the court. And Manu taught McLemore a few lessons on Sunday.
Brooklyn’s Tyshawn Taylor on Twitter … on Twitter:
I think it's funny when people say "you in the league why you respond to that" ain't that what twitter is for --to interact
I don't take this serious ... Like at all lol
On a former Jay in the NBA, as tweeted by retired NBA great and part owner of the Sacramento Kings Shaquille O’Neal:
Kings Fans, who is your favorite King of all time? Mine was Scot Pollard!
Remember to check KUsports.com every night for the latest line scores from the ‘Hawks in the NBA.;