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Jeff Withey finishing rookie season strong

New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey (5) tries to get around Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (8) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey (5) tries to get around Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (8) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Let's face it. Jeff Withey's transition to the NBA has had its down moments in his rookie season.

But as his first-year campaign reaches its final week, it appears the lean 7-foot center out of Kansas might be finding his way in New Orleans. While Withey's season averages of 3.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.9 minutes a game are about as exciting as a Utah vs. Milwaukee game, he has proven of late he can produce when given the opportunity.

In the rookie's last five games, he has played 20.5 minutes and averaged 9.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while hitting 78% of his shots. Seventy-eight!

Earlier this week, Darrell Williams wrote about how Withey's growth has pleased the Pelicans. The team's coach, Monty Williams, told the New Orleans Advocate Withey has helped offset some of the Pelicans' injury problems of late.

“Jeff has come a long way this season. He looks nothing like the guy we saw in training camp. He has worked hard. His body looks different, and he has made progress on the court working with (assistant coach) Kevin (Hanson).”

After developing into a hard-nosed defender of the rim at KU, Withey had to acclimate himself to playing in the paint in the NBA, where things can get rough.

“You don’t have to be big to be physical. Some of it definitely is that the game has slowed down for me now. I understand things a lot better.”

With New Orleans star Anthony Davis sitting out Wednesday due to back spasms, Withey tried to carry the team himself in a 94-88 Pelicans loss to Phoenix. Withey scored 17 points — a career high — and added a couple of rebounds, three assists and a block.

The backup center and his bench mates helped get New Orleans back in the game, John Reid wrote for The Times-Picayune. The rookie big man out of Kansas had this to say:

"We try to bring a spark to our team when its needed. We definitely played pretty well tonight.''

(Watch Withey's locker room interview at NOLA.com.)

New Orleans lost its sixth game in a row, but it was definitely Withey's night. If the numbers and highlights don't prove that, this GIF should.


Paul Pierce on verge of 25K points

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce is shown during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, April 8, 2014 in Miami. The Nets defeated the Heat 88-87. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce is shown during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, April 8, 2014 in Miami. The Nets defeated the Heat 88-87. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

After scoring 14 points to help Brooklyn complete a four-game season sweep of two-time defending champion Miami earlier this week, the man known as "The Truth" appeared in no hurry to reach a significant milestone.

Pierce sat out the Nets' loss at Orlando Wednesday due to a right hip pointer injury, even though he currently needs just five points to reach 25,000 for his career.

As Rod Boone of Newsday reported, the only active players who have put up that many points are Pierce's Brooklyn teammate Kevin Garnett, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki.

As Pierce closes in on the elite mark — only 17 players in the history of the NBA have scored 25,000 career points — it's probably safe to assume the former KU All-American is on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Players such as Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Adrian Dantley and Larry Bird never reached 25K — as pointed out in a SportsNetwork.com column.

Pierce could reach the landmark number as soon as Friday night against Atlanta. If not then, the Nets have three more regular-season dates in the coming week.

Brooklyn, which began the season looking woeful but now has a playoff spot in the East locked up, could be the final stop in Pierce's illustrious career. Speculation already has begun that he will re-sign with the Nets.


Thomas Robinson, teammates try to keep straight faces

Second-year power forward Thomas Robinson has made his share of incredible plays this season for Portland.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0HyCU5TTZw

But there might be a new champion in the category of most remarkable YouTube clip starring the man known in Lawrence as T-Rob.

The 6-foot-10, powerful sub and a few of his teammates appeared on an episode of the IFC series Portlandia.

The show's stars, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, play a pair of feminist dance team coaches who try to give the Trail Blazers a pep talk after a loss.

In other words: This is amazing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkPDat_zoMw

Robinson got to roll his eyes, shake his head and deliver a few of straight-faced lines. Not bad for an acting debut. (For a professional athlete.)


'Hawks in the NBA standings

Only six days remain in the 82-game marathon that is the regular season, so here's a look at where all of the NBA's Jayhawks stand in the hunt for the playoffs.

We'll rank the Kansas products according to their franchise's record.

No. 1 — Nick Collison/Oklahoma City (57-21)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched Northwest Division title/playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (53-25)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (51-28)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 4 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (47-31)

  • Currently No. 7 seed in West

No. 5 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (46-32)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (43-35)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (40-38)

  • Currently No. 7 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (35-44)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 9 — Cole Aldrich/New York (33-45)

  • Currently No. 9 in East, two games behind Atlanta

No. 10 — Jeff Withey/New Orleans (32-46)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (27-52)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-53)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (24-54)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

— Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

Comments

Brett McCabe 8 months, 1 week ago

Great news for Jeff. It's becoming very clear that Withey is teachable, coachable and committed to improving as a player. Isn't this the same story we've heard every year since arriving at KU? The guy just keeps getting better.

Suzi Marshall 8 months, 1 week ago

That IFC series Portlandia. clip with T-Rob was really dumb. Makes one wonder.

Jock Navels 8 months, 1 week ago

the series is a right on target satire of portland culture...watch a few episodes on netflix. they can be pretty funny. very portland, this clip.

Allen Shepard 8 months, 1 week ago

It was the third or fourth part of a sketch that recurred throughout the episode. You'd have to see the other parts to be able to follow it (at the very least, as those are also recurring characters.)

Jonathan Allison 8 months, 1 week ago

Phoenix now is one game behind Memphis for th #8 seed in the west, but I believe that though the two teams play eachother tonight, Memphis holds the tie-breaker already.

Phoenix needs to beat Memphis and win at Sacramento, and they need Memphis to lose against Dallas.

So they're not eliminated yet, but they need help from Dallas in order to get into the playoffs.

Hopefully they will make it in, it would give us a good chance to see the Morris twins in action few a few more games.

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