Kurt Helin

Karl-Anthony Towns defends play while holding Andrew Wiggins’ shoe

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Karl-Anthony Towns is proving to be a versatile defender. He can protect the rim, show out on pick-and-rolls, and shows a high IQ defensively for a rookie.

And he can defend while holding a shoe.

Not sure how valuable that last skill is, but when Andrew Wiggins stepped out of his shoe during a defensive possession Monday against the Spurs, Towns picked up the shoe and held on to it (rather than toss it out-of-bounds). While carrying the shoe Towns still cut off a Tony Parker drive to the basket, then chased Parker out to the corner so there was no three (Parker passed inside to LaMarcus Aldridge, but he missed the shot).

Towns looked like his leading-candidate-for-Rookie-of-the-Year self on Monday with 10 points and 12 rebounds against San Antonio. Plus he was the best defender holding a shoe in his hands on the court.

 

Report: Markieff Morris must apologize to team to return to practice

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‘ two-game suspension for arguing with coach Jeff Hornacek and throwing a towel at him ended when the final buzzer went off Monday night in the Suns loss to the Cavaliers.

Morris will be at the Suns’ practice Tuesday — but before he can set foot on the court he has to apologize to the team and coaches publicly, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports. And some in Morris’ camp are not thrilled about that.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough has asked Morris to briefly meet with him, Hornacek and team president Lon Babby prior to Tuesday’s practice, the source said. Morris has been told he will be asked to apologize to his Suns coaches and teammates, make a renewed commitment to the team for games, practices, weight-training sessions and treatment sessions and attend all NBA and Suns community appearances, the source said.

Morris is expected to attend the meeting on Tuesday and do what is needed to return to practice afterward, the source said. Still, some within Morris’ camp are confused by the team’s requests because Morris already apologized to Hornacek and his teammates on Twitter and sent a separate apologetic text to Hornacek. Morris also has spoken with his teammates regularly during the suspension that cost him $145,455, the source said.

Morris has tweeted out an apology.

That and texts, however, are not the same as a face-to-face apology.

While he has said otherwise, Morris has not seemed engaged this season, still harboring resentment over his brother Marcus Morris being traded away last summer (part of the Suns’ efforts to chase LaMarcus Aldridge). Markieff is averaging 10.7 points a game on 37.9 percent shooting, with a PER of 9.2 — some of the worst numbers of his career. The Suns’ forced apology seems to be an effort to get Morris to acknowledge he is not all in with the team right now and an effort to get him on board.

Morris was seen as a cornerstone part of what the Suns were building, but everything the Suns thought they were doing right has backfired. The Eric Bledsoe/Brandon Knight backcourt has struggled together (and now Bledsoe is out six weeks with a torn meniscus). The big off-season acquisition of Tyson Chandler has been a bust due to injury and age (he’s coming off the bench now and Alex Len starts).

And Morris has been terrible. There has been talk of trading Morris but his stock around the league has fallen so far — both because of his play and concerns about his attitude — that the Suns would have to throw in a sweetener to get him off the roster.

All those front office miscalculations have Jeff Hornacek in trouble as the coach. Welcome to the NBA. Throw in an impatient owner in Robert Sarver and more shakeups seem inevitable.

Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Mount Stephen Curry erupts in win

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry celebrates a score against the Sacramento Kings during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Here’s what you need to know from a Monday night around the NBA:

1) Stephen Curry broke out of his slump with a volcanic eruption. Curry had been in a slump for more than a week. In his prior five games coming into Monday night, he was shooting 28.1 percent from three (9-of-32). In the first quarter against the Kings Monday night it continued, he was 0-of-4 from the floor overall and 0-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Then it happened. Mount Curry erupted in the second quarter — 17 points in a just over three-minute span at the end of the first half.

So much for that slump. And so much for the Kings, despite Omri Casspi having nine threes of his own on the night. Curry finished with a triple double — 23 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists — while Klay Thompson added 29 points and Draymond Green 25 and the Warriors won again 122-103. That would make them 29-1 on the season, for those of you scoring at home. If they want 72 wins it seems a more and more reasonable goal every day.

2) DeMarcus Cousins gets ejected after arguing foul call. He should get his checkbook out now. The Kings fell victim to one of the classic blunders — the most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” — but only slightly less well-known is this: Never get into a shootout with the Golden State Warriors. George Karl wants the Kings to play fast, but once Curry got going (see above) things spiraled downward fast for Sacramento in the third.

Especially once DeMarcus Cousins got ejected for arguing a call.

This was a classic example of a Cousins’ ejection. That questionable call — Cousins does touch Curry but it seemed Ben McLemore commits the foul — was Cousins’ fifth foul of the night. He was frustrated. And when Cousins feels wronged he simply is incapable of letting it go, he needs to feel vindicated (and doesn’t channel that anger into his play). He lets his emotions get the better of him. And he does it without regard to his team — notice in that video the Kings were up two when Cousins got tossed. The Warriors went on a 15-0 run after Cousins was sent to the shower and that was the ballgame.

Cousins can expect a fine for this from the league.

Kings’ fans, if you want more in-depth breakdowns of what is going on in Sacramento I had CSNBayArea.com Kings’ insider James Ham on the PBT Podcast this week and we spent more than an hour talking all things Sacramento.

3) Kemba Walker shreds Lakers “defense” for 38 points. On the list of “most entertaining players in the NBA to watch” Kemba Walker doesn’t get mentioned enough. The man puts up points and puts on a show. Put him against the Lakers “defense” and you end up with him dropping 38 in a win.

4) Chris Paul for the Dunk Contest. The story for the Clippers Monday night should be that Paul Pierce moved into the starting lineup for the injured Blake Griffin and that lineup was +9 on the night and showed promise on both ends of the floor. Or, the story should be that the Clippers actually got good bench play for a night and that is why they beat the Wizards 108-91.

Instead, the story is that Chris Paul threw down his first two dunks of the season. The first came off some cherry picking, and he let the bench know he could do it.

With that Paul was feeling it, so he went for the dunk on a drive and got the And-1.

5) Bulls beat Raptors as parity reigns in the East. The Atlanta hawks had been hot, winners of six in a row, so they got upended by the Pacers Monday. Any team that starts to look like it could break out of the pack in the second tier of the East (it’s Cleveland then everyone else) gets knocked down a peg. Take the Raptors, who finally got healthy with DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunis back in the lineup, so… they get beat by the Bulls Monday, 104-97. The Bulls may have found a bench bigs pairing that works with Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis, and Chicago got a strong game from Tony Snell off the bench with 22. Pau Gasol also had 22. I’d say keep an eye on the Bulls to try to break out of the pack in the East, but the trend is they will come crashing back to earth soon. Everyone does.

Stephen Curry’s triple-double leads Warriors past Kings 122-103

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry overcame a slow start to score 23 points as part of his sixth career triple-double and the Golden State Warriors won for the 29th time in 30 games this season, 122-103 over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.

Curry added a career-high 14 rebounds and 10 assists, Klay Thompson scored 29 and Draymond Green had 25 for the Warriors, who have won 33 straight regular-season home games.

Omri Casspi scored a career-high 36 points, tying Mike Bibby’s team record with nine 3-pointers for Sacramento. But the Kings still lost their 11th straight against their Northern California rivals.

The Kings were excited to have a healthy DeMarcus Cousins for the first time in three meetings with the Warriors this season. But the All-Star big man played less than 13 minutes before getting ejected. After sitting out most of the first half in foul trouble, Cousins was upset after getting called for his fifth foul in the third quarter.

Monty McCutchen then called Cousins for a technical, setting him off on a tirade that led to another technical called by Mitchell Ervin and an ejection. Cousins had to be restrained by teammates before being escorted off the court.

Curry made three of the four free throws to start a 15-0 run that turned a two-point deficit into a 79-66 lead for the Warriors. Curry’s 3-pointer just before the third quarter ended put Golden State up 90-75.

After trailing early, the Kings went on a 28-7 spurt to build a 41-30 lead on one of Casspi’s seven first-half 3s. But Casspi’s sharp shooting seemed to wake up Curry, who missed his first six shots and was scoreless for the first 20:44 of the game.

Curry ended that drought with a 3-pointer that started a stretch of him scoring 17 straight Golden State points in the final 3:16 of the half. Curry hit five 3s and a layup during that span to the delight of the home crowd.

Casspi hit four 3s in that same stretch to help Sacramento take a 61-58 lead at the break.

TIP-INS

Kings: The losing streak is their longest in the series since the Cincinnati Royals dropped 13 straight to the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959-60. … Cousins and Rajon Rondo each got called for three fouls in the first quarter and sat out the entire second quarter. … C Kosta Koufos missed the game with an illness.

Warriors: McCutchen called F Draymond Green and interim coach Luke Walton for technical fouls in the first quarter. Jason Thompson got called for one in the fourth. … Coach Steve Kerr, sidelined since training camp because of complications following back surgery, is scheduled to join the team on a road trip to Texas later this week. … C Festus Ezeli left the game with a sore left foot. … G Leandro Barbosa (left shoulder sprain) and F Harrison Barnes (sprained left ankle) missed the game.

 

AP source: Jazz guard Alec Burks to have surgery on broken leg

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 23:  Alec Burks #10 of the Utah Jazz dribbles the ball against the Golden State Warriors during their NBA basketball game at ORACLE Arena on December 23, 2015 in Oakland, California. 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 Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A person familiar with the situation says Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks has chosen to have surgery to help accelerate the healing process from a broken left leg.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday night because the team had not announced the decision.

The surgery should allow Burks to place weight on his fibula after two weeks instead of four and begin rehabbing sooner than without surgery. The team originally said he would not have surgery.

Burks injured his leg during a fall Saturday.

Burks had played in every game this season, averaging a career-high 14.3 points as one of the few Jazz players on the bench who can create offense. He is the third-leading scorer on the team.

Burks is the third major contributor for the Jazz who has been lost for a significant amount of time this season. Starting center Rudy Gobert remains out with a sprained MCL. Starting point guard Dante Exum is out for the season with a torn ACL.