<span class="vcard">Dan Feldman</span>

PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 11:  Markieff Morris #11 and head coach Jeff Hornacek of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the Miami Heat at US Airways Center on February 11, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Heat defeated the Suns 103-97.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Markieff Morris: I didn’t intend to hit Jeff Hornacek with towel


The Suns suspended Markieff Morris two games for throwing a towel at coach Jeff Hornacek.


Only Morris knows his intention. Without video, it’s difficult for us even to guess it.

But we know he lost control of his emotions to the point he didn’t stop himself from hitting his coach with a towel. Though a lesser offense, that’s still obviously problematic.

Morris earned himself no benefit of the doubt from the Suns after his sulking and implied trade demands last offseason.

Add his crummy play on the court, and this is a difficult situation to resolve.

NBA: Kings got away with 2 violations while running down clock in win over Pacers (video)

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The Kings are red hot, winning five of their last seven.

But they had a little help in their last victory – from the officials.

Sacramento got away with two key late no-calls – an offensive foul by DeMarcus Cousins and travelling by Darren Collison – in its 108-106 win over the pacers on Wednesday, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

The Kings grabbed a rebound with a two point lead and 35 seconds left, and though they missed their next shot, they succeeded in burning time. The shot clock expired with Collison’s shot in the air:

However, the NBA ruled Cousins should have been called for an offensive foul with 20.8 seconds left:

Cousins (SAC) holds Hill’s (IND) left arm and affects his ability to defend the pass

Considering Cousins got away with that, the league said Collison should have been called for travelling with 11.8 seconds left:

Collison (SAC) receives the ball while on his left foot, establishing his pivot. He then moves both feet when Ellis (IND) jumps to defend his shot. Since he has drawn Ellis into the air, the referee is focused on any contact to the shooter.

The Pacers held Sacramento scoreless on the possession and grabbed the rebound, but the missed calls did damage.

Instead of having 20.8 seconds – or even 11.8 seconds if the referees missed only one call – for its final possession, Indiana had just 8.0 seconds.

Rajon Rondo smartly used the Kings’ last foul to give with 4.4 seconds left:

That left the Pacers few options, and Paul George missed a rushed shot at the buzzer (thanks to strong defense by Cousins):

But a correct call on Sacramento’s previous possession would’ve changed the scenario significantly in Indiana’s favor.

First, the Pacers would’ve gotten into their offense sooner, and Rondo would’ve been forced to use the foul to give with more time on the clock. Then, Indiana would’ve had an easier time scoring.

In reality, the clock became a sixth defender. Not only did George have to shoot quicker than he might be comfortable, the Kings knew it. They could time their shot contests to the buzzer, knowing that George can’t make additional moves to get a better shot (for himself or a teammate) without time expiring.

With a correct call, George would have had more time to create a shot. Even if the Pacers missed, they still could have intentionally fouled the Kings. If Sacramento missed at least one free throw, Indiana could’ve gotten the ball back down only one possession.

All this said, the Kings probably still would have won if their final offensive possession were correctly called. The team with a two-point lead in the final seconds – whether 20.8, 11.8 or 8.0 – usually wins.

And it’s not surprising they got away with those violations. Despite the league’s transparency on late-game officiating, refs still have a tendency to swallow their whistles. Neither the offensive foul nor travel were egregious.

But it’s fair for the Pacers to feel salty about not getting a fair chance to topple Sacramento on Wednesday.

Chris Paul on criticism for whining, flopping, playing dirty: ‘I got enough friends’

Ricky Rubio, Chris Paul

The Clippers are the NBA’s most disliked team.

It really isn’t close.

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Doc Rivers have created a culture of whining, flopping, playing dirty – and winning. All factor into the Clippers’ reputation in varying measures, and bits of trash-talking and showboating – though hardly as distinguishing as the other traits – also contribute.

There are good and bad reasons to loathe the team, and people use them all.

The Clippers don’t plan on changing.

Paul, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“I don’t play for anybody to like me,” Paul told B/R. “I’m telling you, I got enough friends, you know what I mean?”

This is one quote in a very interesting and nuanced article on the Clippers’ style. I highly recommend reading it in its entirety.

Paul is competitive, and his approach would be well and good if not for one complication:

He’s president of the players association.

Paul should care more about what his peers think of him. They elected him to represent them, and he’ll be less effective if they can’t stand him. With less than a year until either side can opt out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the National Basketball Players Association needs to unify – ideally behind Paul.

Report: Potential trade partners want sweetener for taking Markieff Morris

Markieff Morris, Ryan Anderson

Markieff Morrisdespite speaking to the contrary once – clearly doesn’t want to be in Phoenix. He made that clear all offseason long. Now, he’s throwing towels at his coach and playing terribly.

So, why don’t the Suns just trade him?

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The three years and $24 million remaining on Morris’ contract after this season were once thought to be a bargain, especially with the salary cap skyrocketing. It shows how far he’s fallen that nobody wants him on that contract.

The Pelicans were never going to trade Ryan Anderson for Morris. Likewise, the Rockets weren’t dealing Terrence Joes for Morris. Those productive players could be part of a larger deal, but Phoenix would have to send out additional positive pieces.

The Suns are wise not to throw a good asset after bad. Morris’ salary won’t preclude them from having major cap room this summer, and they could always stretch him if need be.

If Morris wants out of Phoenix, he’ll have to start playing and/or behaving better to make a trade realistic.

Warriors-Cavaliers features second-best-ever combined record for Christmas matchup

Stephen Curry, LeBron James
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The 27-1 Warriors have the best record entering Christmas in NBA history.

Their opponent Friday, the 19-7 Cavaliers, is no slouch, either.

Combine those teams’ records, and it’s the second-best win percentage for a Christmas matchup in NBA history. The top 10 (with teams’ records entering the game):

  1. 2008: Los Angeles Lakers (23-5) def. Boston Celtics (27-2), 92-83
  2. 2015: Cleveland Cavaliers (19-7) at Golden State Warriors (27-1)
  3. 1993: Phoenix Suns (18-5) def. Houston Rockets (22-2), 111-91
  4. 1996: Chicago Bulls (24-3) def. Detroit Pistons (20-5), 95-83
  5. 2005: Detroit Pistons (21-3) def. San Antonio Spurs (21-6), 85-70
  6. 1949: Syracuse Nationals (22-3) def. Anderson Packers (16-6), 94-88
  7. 2009: Cleveland Cavaliers (22-8) def. Los Angeles Lakers (23-4), 102-87
  8. 2009: Boston Celtics (22-5) def. Orlando Magic (22-7), 86-77
  9. 2012: Miami Heat (18-6) def. Oklahoma City Thunder (21-5), 103-97
  10. 1991: Chicago Bulls (20-4) def. Boston Celtics (17-8), 121-99

The Warriors have certainly looked the part of their great record. They’re outscoring opponents by 13.5 points per game – a higher mark than any team has produced over a full season.

The Cavaliers are probably better than their already-strong record. They’ve won six straight, including both games since Kyrie Irving‘s return.

I don’t know whether this will be a great game. Only one of those above matchups was decided by fewer than nine points.

But Cleveland-Golden State will certainly feature two excellent teams.