Sixth Man Rankings: Series of Statement Games Start Tonight

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Markieff  & Marcus Morris Suns As I predicted two weeks ago, the Sixth Man Award race has heated back up. With Reggie Jackson and Manu Ginobili returning to their roles on the bench for their respective teams, Markieff Morris has finally found some serious competition for the award.

With 30-plus games left for each team on the schedule, there are bound to be several key games ahead that could help determine the winner of this award.

As luck would have it, Manu Ginobili’s return to full strength came in the same week that the Spurs had to fly out to Phoenix.

Tonight’s matchup is noteworthy for several reasons:

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SH Blog: Morey says Royce White may be the worst first-round pick ever; Knicks chasing Rondo

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SHOULD KOBE BRYANT COME BACK THIS SEASON?

kobeWhether this season is worth coming back to for Bryant was the topic between Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher and Howard Beck. Beck says the guard should probably sit out the entire season because there is nothing to come back to. The Los Angeles Lakers are an injury-ridden mess and are certain to miss the playoffs, so what’s the point?

The issue with sitting Bryant out even if he can come back is this: he needs to have an understanding of where he is physically and mentally heading into next season. There is no replacement for NBA competition. Bryant has suffered two separate devastating injuries he has never had to deal with in the past. There’s no question that he struggled when he initially came back earlier in the season and looked like a shell of himself – perhaps for the first time ever – as he tried to get re-acclimated. If he doesn’t come back this season to find out what level of play he can sustain after suffering a fractured leg, he will be forced to find out next season. Is that something he or the Lakers want to take a chance on?

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SH Blog: Pierce and Garnett Return to Boston; Miami too Hot for San Antonio; T-Ross Goes Off

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To say it’s been an eventful 24 hours of basketball is a major understatement. NBA fans were treated to emotional tributes, heavyweight tilts and massive scoring outputs.

Pierce Garnett

In addition to all the fun, NBA Sunday Showcase also returned. For the remainder of the season (with the exception of Super Bowl Sunday) fans can watch top teams in the league go head-to-head during the daylight hours.

Let’s go to Boston, where two highly anticipated returns brought many to tears.

Kevin Garnett: six years, one ring. Paul Pierce: 15 years, one ring. Together along with Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins were one of the best starting units ever assembled. An elite passer at the point, deadeye sharpshooter at the two, dynamite scorer at SF, one of the toughest competitors in history at the four, and a rugged intimidator down low. When healthy, they were unstoppable, and in 2008 they won what “The Big Three” had been desperately searching for.

Sunday marked a very special day for Celtics fans – it was Boston’s chance to say thank you.

Nearly eight months after being traded from Boston, The Truth and The Big Ticket return to TD Garden as members of the Brooklyn Nets.

If you’re looking to see players getting booed out of the building, don’t bother watching, because it’s far from that.

A packed house gave both players standing ovations and many fans didn’t sit for several minutes after. “KG” and “Paul Pierce” chants we’re sporadic throughout the first quarter.

During game breaks the Celtics organized video tributes for each player. By this point, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Like I’ve always said, the city of Boston is the best sports city in North America. The fans are competitive but know how to keep it classy. It’s been a rough 12 months for Boston but they still stand tall and they’re always Boston Strong.

Brooklyn ended up leaving with a W, 85-79 was the final score. Garnett and Pierce each scored six in the return.

To other NBA news: the Miami Heat are still really good at basketball.

During an NBA Finals rematch Sunday afternoon in Miami, the Heat took care of business against the San Antonio Spurs with a 113-101 win. Keep in mind, it was really a much more lopsided game but Miami cleared its bench after going up by 25.

LeBron James had a quiet night by his standards, finishing with 18 points, seven rebounds and six dimes. But Chris Bosh came to play, in just 26 minutes he recorded 24 points and five rebounds. Dwyane Wade was essentially a nonfactor with eight points and five assists.

Duncan Manu Parker

Tim Duncan led the Spurs charge with 23. Tony Parker had 11 points and seven assists. Meanwhile, Manu Ginobili had another dismal game against the Heat, in 25 minutes he only managed three points on 1/7 shooting.

Although a poor performance, Ginobili’s play isn’t the main concern. With the loss, San Antonio falls to 1-10 against the NBA’s elite.

Yes the Spurs are missing three starters, but those are all injuries that occurred in January. Even with a healthy Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter, they couldn’t get the wins that mattered most.

A Spurs fan will blow this off as nothing and maybe they’re right. Defeat sub .500 teams every night, great. But San Antonio probably won’t have the luxury of playing the Utah Jazz in the playoffs.


Terrence Ross

Terrence Ross scored 51 points Saturday – wait, who?

That’s right, the dunker on the team from Up North.

Unfortunately for the Toronto Raptors, they couldn’t cap off the perfect night with a win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Although, the final score could’t take anything away from his historic game.

Ross tied Raptors legend Vince Carter for most points in a game and also broke a few records of his own. Obviously a personal scoring best, but more impressively he broke an all-time NBA record.

 

I follow the Raptors very closely and I’ve watched Ross in every NBA game he’s ever appeared in. This kid is special. Thinking he’s a one dimensional player who only goes for high flying dunks it totally wrong.

Ross is 22-years-old, he can’t even rent a car yet. When his skill catches up to his athleticism, watch out.

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Brett Poirier is a contributor to Sheridan Hoops.

Sixth Man Rankings: Markieff Morris is forcing his way into the conversation

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Markieff  & Marcus Morris Suns After starting off the season atop the Sixth Man Rankings and quickly dropping out, Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris has climbed his way back into the top spot following consecutive weeks of efficient scoring.

Despite playing the entire month of January without star point guard Eric Bledsoe – out indefinitely due to knee surgery – Phoenix still surprisingly stands seven games above .500. They are currently the seventh seed in a loaded Western Conference.

Coach Jeff Hornacek is in his first year and doesn’t have an All-Star (although Goran Dragic deserves consideration). The Suns are the fourth-least experienced team in the league. Miraculously, they just keep on winning.

Markieff Morris has been a huge reason why.

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Sixth Man Rankings: Can Jordan Crawford sneak into the race?

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JordanCrawfordSH1Last month, while I was working on my Nick Young feature, I asked Wizards guard John Wall what he thought about two of his former teammates’ divergent yet equally successful paths to relevance in the NBA.

At the time, of course, Young was enjoying the hottest and most efficient scoring tear of his professional career. Meanwhile, Jordan Crawford, who had essentially replaced Young as Washington’s volume scorer in 2012, had reinvented himself as a facilitating point guard with the Boston Celtics.