It finally happened. Not that Paul Pierce ever intended for things to go down this way, exactly, but the 16-year veteran, in his 1,118th NBA game, played against the Boston Celtics for the very first time Tuesday night in Brooklyn.
Now a member of the Nets, Pierce had missed the previous four games with a broken bone in his right hand, so he came off the bench in his not-so-storybook showdown with his former team, which traded him away to build for the future.
The (hurt) Truth at least got the win after playing 22 minutes, going 0-for-3 from the field and finishing with four points, seven rebounds and three assists. But it was the return of another once ailing Net, point guard Deron Williams, that led Brooklyn to a 104-96 home win.
Pierce served as a sub for just the fourth time in his illustrious career and didn't appear to be 100 percent (he wore a protective glove of sorts on his hand), but he proved he could still make plays, with this dish to Nets big man Andray Blatche.
One might assume Pierce only came back at this point so he could do damage against his former team. However, the veteran called the timing a "coincidence" in a story from Newsday's Roderick Boone:
"My whole focus was about getting back healthy, coming out trying to help my team, establishing something at home. It just happens to be a coincidence that the day I come back is against the Celtics. It will probably be a little bit more emotional when I go back to Boston. We already had a preseason game against them. I already had a chance to holler at them in the preseason."
It's hard to imagine a guy with 24,211 career regular-season points to his name could become a backup, but his first-year coach, Jason Kidd, hinted the struggling Nets (7-14) could use Pierce in that role, according to a story from Stefan Bondy in the New York Daily News:
“I liked him being a leader with that second group,” Kidd said. “Will it stay that way? I don’t know. We will look at the video tomorrow as a team and coaches. I will talk to Paul and see what his comfort level is, but I would like to get him back, give him more minutes and get him used to that glove.”
We'll have to wait and see how long that takes, and if the highly touted Nets can start living up to their hype with the help of the former Jayhawks star.
Super Morris Bros.
In the ongoing battle to see who is the superior Morris twin off of the Phoenix Suns' bench, Marcus took another step forward Tuesday night.
His twin brother, Markieff (13.0 points, 6.2 rebounds), has stood out most of the season thus far for the surprising Suns (12-9), but Marcus (11.0 points, 4.9 rebounds) had another breakout game in Phoenix's 114-108 win at the Los Angeles Lakers. Mook (is that short for Marcus? I don't know, but his Twitter handle is @MookMorris2) made 10 of his 13 shots in the Phoenix win and scored a season-high 22 points.
Paul Coro, of azcentral.com, called it Marcus's best game of the season, noting the 6-foot-9 Wonder Twin exploits bigger power forwards when the Suns go small ball. In those situations, Marcus said, his larger defenders tend to back off on the perimeter, in order to better defend potential drives.
“Little do they know, that’s what I want,” Morris said. “I work on (jumpers) every day with Mark (West, Suns assistant coach).”
The Morrii, Coro pointed out, scored 11 straight points for the Suns late. And Markieff didn't have a bad game, either, with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Good thing Marcus was looking out for him.
Chalmers a surefire hall-of-famer (in Alaska)
NBA fans got to see the season's first marquee matchup of the Eastern Conference Tuesday night, when the Miami Heat played at the Indiana Pacers.
In the first of what figures to be numerous battles (regular-season and playoffs) between the clear-cut favorites of the East, Mario Chalmers had kind of a rough night in a 90-84 loss.
The sixth-year guard out of Kansas shot 3-for-7, had nine points, two steals, two assists and two turnovers for the two-time defending champion Heat (16-6) against the league's current top team, Indiana (19-3).
These in-game tweets from the media reveal a little more about what Chalmers endured.
David West scores, then drills Mario Chalmers with a forearm coming back up the floor. Chalmers still rubbing his chest.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) December 11, 2013
Mario Chalmers gets up with a smile after he's not rewarded for his flop— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) December 11, 2013
Chalmers at least served up a highlight dish in the final minutes — not that it will win him any notoriety.
The Anchorage, Alaska, native's past performances earned him some distinction, though. He received some good news before the game: Chalmers will be inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.
And, hey, even after a disappointing loss, things could be worse: Chalmers could spend his winters in Minnesota, instead of Miami.
It's official Minnesota is colder than Alaska. Never thought I would see the day. Enjoy y'all day.— Mario Chalmers (@mchalmers15) December 7, 2013
Before we wrap things up, just for good measure, here's Ben McLemore in a Sacramento Kings Santa hat doing good.
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Former NBA All-Star point guard Kevin Johnson might be the mayor of Sacramento, but at the rate Ben McLemore is going, the Kings rookie guard could run for election in California's capital city and knock KJ out of office.
The reigning Western Conference Rookie of the Month kept adding to his resume this weekend. On Saturday, McLemore scored in double figures for the fifth time in six games, with 15 at Utah. Three of those, Sacramento's announcers tell us, came on "the biggest shot of his young NBA career."
That three-pointer, his 28th of the season (McLemore is shooting 35 percent on 81 tries), sent the game to overtime and the Kings (5-13) went on to snap a six-game losing streak.
The night before, in a 106-100 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, McLemore set a new career high with 20 points, via one of his typically ferocious fast-break jams and 4-for-7 shooting from downtown.
Look out, KJ. Mayor McLemore might take Sactown over sooner than you think.
This Sun is on fire
Back in KJ's old stomping grounds of Phoenix, Markieff Morris couldn't miss to open the Suns' victory over Toronto. Kieff knocked down his first 11 shots on the way to 25 points and 11 rebounds — both close to season-highs of 28 and 12.
The 6-foot-10 power forward out of Kansas, as well as his teammates and coach, had plenty to say about his big night, which helped Phoenix (currently ninth out West) improve to 11-9.
"I've just got a great feel for the game right now," Kieff said in the AP's story on the game. "I'm not trying to shoot as many 3s as I have in the past. I've just been working on driving to the basket and trying to get to the line."
Though Markieff was feeling it (more than twin brother Marcus, who had 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting vs. the Raptors), he still managed to pick up his third technical foul of the season. As Paul Coro of azcentral.com writes in his game notes, Kieff might be the most fiery Sun:
On Friday night, Morris picked up his third technical foul in 20 games as a reserve. He and Jonas Valanciunas did some shoving for a double-technical. The part that could have got Morris in trouble was following Valanciunas to midcourt to continue barking at him but Valanciunas never responded.
Most of the buzz in the NBA this weekend surrounded the return of the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, who played for the first time in almost eight months against Toronto on Sunday.
The L.A. legend, back from a torn Achilles tendon injury, scored nine points in 28 minutes, while former one-and-done Jayhawk Xavier Henry made the most of his 14 minutes off the bench, adding 17 points in a 106-94 loss to the Raptors.
Turns out the lefty Henry impressed Kobe (kind of … well, not really) with one of his moves. This from Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding:
Ryan Kelly and Kobe are joking on the bench about Xavier Henry actually finishing with his right hand. TOR 38, LAL 33.— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) December 9, 2013
Also, as you may have noticed if you saw the highlights from Kobe's return, he came out in pre-game intros to some familiar music — familiar to everybody except Xavier Henry, apparently.
Xavier Henry didn't notice the "Darth Vader" theme during Kobe's intro. And with good reason. He's never seen "Star Wars." AK— Kamenetzky Brothers (@KamBrothers) December 9, 2013
Henry has never seen Star Wars? Nerd alert.
Shouldn't he be in green?
The once unthinkable could happen as soon as tomorrow.
Paul Pierce, who spent 15 seasons leading the Boston Celtics, might play against them Tuesday night as a Brooklyn Net.
Paul Pierce said there's a "good" chance he'll play tomorrow vs #celtics— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) December 9, 2013
Check out all of Gary Washburn's twitter feed for much more on The Truth, and his thoughts on the Celtics.
Washburn, of the Boston Globe, also provides an in-depth feature regarding the struggles of former Celtics Pierce and Kevin Garnett, now that they're in Brooklyn (6-14).
“Those close to the Nets intimate that Pierce has lost his passion, still stunned from his departure from Boston and the only team he ever knew …”
“Pierce is shooting a career-worst 36.8 percent from the field in 15 games and has converted just 26.8 percent of his 3-pointers. Observers say Pierce is engaged at times and doesn’t seem interested at others.”
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It really wouldn't be the 'Hawks in the NBA without some ridiculous highlights, would it?
There was a Thanksgiving feast of dunks from Kansas products damaging rims around the Association this past weekend.
Before we dig in to the main course, the always reliable Morris twins provide some appetizing fix'ins in Orlando.
Pretty cool little improvisation here. Marcus Morris comes off a screen set by brother Markieff, and just when you think Marcus is rising up for the jumper, he notices Keef rolling to the paint and just lofts an easy lob for a Morris-oop.
Both twins produced in the win against another former Kansas star, Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn.
"I had a talk with Coach and he said I have to get my swag back. When I got sick, I felt like I lost it a little bit. Tonight, I was out there for a while and I thank coach for just letting me play so I can find it."
The Highlight King
All right, on to what everybody has been waiting for on Thanksgiving week. Phoenix's Morrii brought the rolls, green beans and essential sides, but Sacramento rookie Ben McLemore delivers the turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie.
You'd be in the holiday spirit, too, if you had this kind of weekend in L.A.
McLemore's one-on-none fast-break flight against the Los Angeles Clippers is just the latest in what is becoming a nightly expectation for the ridiculously athletic shooting guard.
Notice where he takes off on that? And how high he explodes for his sky-walking trip? That highlight alone would be enough to keep some players satisfied with their baller status for the rest of the season. Yet, here's another McLemore jam the very next night — back in Staples Center, but this time against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sure, there is zero deterrence put forth by the Clippers or Lakers in these McLemore take-off scenarios, but that doesn't make them any less impressive. I mean, look at this photo of the first dunk from a tweet by @Jim_ICE:
'X' finds 'O'
Xavier Henry continued his fight to remain relevant in the NBA, against Sacramento. It seemed like Henry might have been out of the league by now after his first three seasons with New Orleans. But he's the kind of athlete/gunner that can thrive in Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni's system — especially considering the Lakers need all the help they can get while Kobe Bryant is out.
Mike Bresnahan writes in the Los Angeles Times that Henry improved his free-throw shooting in the Lakers win, and scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers (7-7) might not be a contender anymore — even when they get Kobe back. But Henry seems to be enjoying the ride.
Fun from winning locker room Friday night: Xavier Henry was trying to get Nick Young to give him Rihanna's phone number after the game.— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) November 25, 2013
Bad news, Bulls
If you're a fan of the NBA, you've already heard the horrible news about Chicago point guard Derrick Rose. The 2010-11 NBA MVP missed the entire 2012-13 season while recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee. Then he tore the meniscus in his right knee Friday at Portland.
There is no reason to celebrate this, and if you do, you're just a sicko. But this means former KU star Kirk Hinrich will see a lot more minutes for Chicago. We'll probably see a lot more Hinrich production, and possibly more amazing screen grabs, like this one from Deadspin, which shows Hinrich tying up Denver's Nate Robinson and giddily smiling.
The truth hurts
Paul Pierce isn't injured, but he's probably sick of the struggles he and the high-paid Brooklyn Nets (3-10) have endured so far this season.
For his career, Pierce is a 44.7-percent shooter, making 36.9-percent of his threes and averaging 21.7 points. Maybe it's his new digs, away from Boston, where his jersey will one day be retired in the rafters, or maybe it's his 36-year-old legs finally wearing down, but Pierce hasn't produced the way many around the league expected him to.
Pierce is averaging just 13 points, hitting 37.9-percent of his shots and 27.9 from downtown.
Here is Stefan Bondy's story on the matter, in the NY Daily News: Paul Pierce ineffective again
The Truth's numbers improved slightly on Sunday, against Detroit: Pierce had 19 points, went 5-for-13 and hit two of his four three-pointers.
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