Jeff Green doing big things for Grizzlies

Here’s the Memphis Commercial Appeal reporting on the 29-20 Grizzlies, who are getting 12.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game from forward Jeff Green this season — though Green has done much bigger things in the past four weeks:

Jeff Green doing big things for Grizzlies

He’s always been able to put the ball in the basket on drives to the rim and via spot-up 3-pointers. When that is combined with his hustle and effort in other areas, Green transforms into the versatile and productive player who makes coaches contented.

Green arguably has been the Grizzlies’ best player since he was benched for an entire second half of a Jan. 12 loss to Houston.

Zach Randolph has brought vintage performances during that span. Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Tony Allen also have been on point with regard to their respective duties.

But only Green can claim this: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Green’s 24 points in the Grizzlies’ win at New Orleans made him the first NBA player in more than 21 years to come off the bench in four consecutive games and finish each one as the game’s high scorer (outright or tied) as his team won. The last player to put together four consecutive games like that was Dan Majerle with the Phoenix Suns in January of 1995.

The L.A. Clippers announced today the team has signed forward Jeff Ayres to a second 10-day contract.

A five-year NBA veteran, Ayres, 28, has appeared in three games with the Clippers scoring two points and grabbing two rebounds.

In 223 career regular season games with Portland, Indiana, San Antonio and Los Angeles, he is averaging 3.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 10.0 minutes. Ayres was a member of the 2014 NBA Champion Spurs and has played in 36 career Playoff games.

The Ontario, CA native most recently played for the Idaho Stampede in the NBA Developmental League, averaging 16.3 points and 9.5 rebounds in 23 games this season and was named a 2015 D-League All-Star.

A stand-out at Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, where he played with former Clippers guard Darren Collison, Ayres was originally drafted with the 31st pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings and traded to Portland on Draft Night.

The 6-foot-10 inch forward played four seasons at Arizona State (2005-2009) earning All-Pac 10 First Team honors in 2009 when he averaged 14.5 points and 8.2 rebounds.

Erick Green named D-League Player of Month

Erick Green formerly of the Reno Bighorns and now with the Utah Jazz after signing a 10-day contract on Jan. 26, has been named NBA Development League Player of the Month for games played in January.

Green (6-4, 185, Virginia Tech) sparked Reno to a 9-3 month (7-2 in games that he played) averaging 27.6 points, 4.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists. He shot 55.0 percent from the field (83-for-151) and connected on 54.0 percent of his three-point attempts (34-of-63).

On Jan. 4, he tied a season-high with 40 points on 12-of-21 shooting (57.1 percent) and nailed four of his seven attempts from behind the arc to go with seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in a 126-122 win over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. On Jan. 8, he connected on six-of-seven three-point attempts as part of a 37-point effort in a 115-114 loss to the Westchester Knicks at the NBA D-League Showcase.

Green was selected with the 46th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Jazz. With Reno he averaged 26.7 (third in the league) points on 53.3 percent shooting to go with 4.4 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals.

Other players receiving consideration for the monthly award were Austin’s Orlando Johnson, Bakersfield’s Xavier Munford, Delaware’s Jordan McRae (of the Phoenix Suns), Grand Rapids’ Devin Ebanks, Iowa’s Alex Stepheson, Idaho’s Phil Pressey, Los Angeles’ Vander Blue, Maine’s Terry Rozier (on assignment from the Boston Celtics), Raptors’ Ronald Roberts Jr., Rio Grande Valley’s Raphiael Putney, Sioux Falls’ Tre Kelley, Texas’ Brandon Ashley and Westchester’s Jimmer Fredette.

Suns name Earl Watson interim head coach

Suns name Earl Watson interim head coach

The Phoenix Suns have named assistant coach and former NBA player Earl Watson interim head coach, the team announced today.

Now the 17th head coach in franchise history, Watson joined the Suns as an assistant coach this past offseason after working last season as an assistant coach for the Austin Spurs of the NBA Development League. Watson became a coach following a 13-year NBA career as a point guard in which he appeared in 878 career games with Seattle/Oklahoma City, Memphis, Denver, Indiana, Utah and Portland from 2001-2014. Watson averaged 6.4 points, 4.4 assists and 1.0 steals for his career, posting highs of 10.7 points and 6.8 assists with the SuperSonics in 2007-08. Watson played for three NBA Coach of the Year Award winners throughout his 13-year career (Hubie Brown, George Karl, Scott Brooks), as well as Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan.

Prior to being selected 40th overall in the 2001 NBA Draft, the Kansas City, Kan. native was a four-year starter at UCLA, helping guide the Bruins to three Sweet 16 appearances and earning All-Pac-10 First Team honors in 2000-01.

This week in the NBA

Monday, Feb. 1: All-Star starters LeBron James of Cleveland and Paul George of Indiana go head-to-head in the first game of NBA TV’s doubleheader (7 p.m.), followed by Milwaukee visiting Sacramento.

Tuesday, Feb. 2: If both players are healthy, this would mark the final regular-season matchup between Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (10:30 p.m., NBA TV). Garnett and Bryant are two of five players in NBA history to play 20 or more seasons.

Wednesday, Feb. 3: Guards Stephen Curry of Golden State and John Wall of Washington, both All-Stars for the third year in a row, square off at 8 p.m. in the opener of ESPN’s doubleheader, which concludes with Timberwolves-Clippers at 10:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 4: New York begins this week as one of four teams within three games of eighth-place Detroit in the East. The Knicks visit the Pistons in the opener of TNT’s doubleheader (7 p.m.). The Lakers and Pelicans meet in the second game (9:30 p.m.).

Friday, Feb. 5: Along with ESPN’s doubleheader of Pacers-Hawks (7 p.m.) and Spurs-Mavericks (9:30 p.m.), the Cavaliers play host to the Celtics (7:30, NBA LEAGUE PASS). Boston is one of only four teams to beat the Cavs in Cleveland since Jan. 19 of last season.

Saturday, Feb. 6: The Thunder and Warriors meet for the first time season in a game featuring five 2016 All-Stars and the current top two offenses in the NBA (9 p.m., ESPN). Golden State will bring a 40-game home regular-season winning streak into the matchup; a victory would give the Warriors sole possession of the second-longest home winning streak of all time.

Sunday, Feb. 7: In an ABC matinee (2 p.m.), the Clippers play the Heat in the second game of a four-game road trip. The Clippers open the week with a 15-9 road record, tied for the second-most road victories in the NBA.

– NBA News

Dwyane Wade doing big things lately

d-wade

On Jan. 19, Heat guard Dwyane Wade scored two points in 21 minutes during a loss to Milwaukee, the second time in his career he had played that much and scored that little in a regular-season game. He missed the next game with shoulder soreness, a loss to Washington, Miami’s sixth defeat in seven games. Since then, however, Wade has gotten back on track — as has the Heat. Wade is averaging 23.6 points (on 50.0 percent shooting), 6.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds in his last five games, lifting Miami to a 4-1 record and victories in its last four. Wade is now tied with Bernard King for 42nd place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (19,655 points). Miami (27-21), which trails Chicago (26-20) by percentage points for third place in the Eastern Conference, puts its season-high winning streak on the line Tuesday at Houston (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV).

deandre jordan

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan shot 70.7 percent from the field, down from 74.7 percent in December, as he takes aim at Wilt Chamberlain’s record 72.7 percent in 1972-73. Jordan, who leads the NBA in field goal percentage (71.5) for the fourth straight season, picked a good time to have his best overall month of the season, with forward Blake Griffin sidelined and rivals such as red-hot Memphis looking to overtake the Clippers in the standings. He averaged 13.8 points and 15.1 rebounds in January as the Clippers went 11-3 to improve to 32-16, good for fourth place in the West. Jordan is within striking distance of leading the NBA in both field goal percentage and rebounding for the third season in a row: He is the only qualified player shooting better than 62 percent, and he ranks second in rebounding (13.8 rpg) behind Detroit’s Andre Drummond (15.0 rpg).

– NBA News

Trail Blazers putting up wins lately

The Trail Blazers didn’t just lose four starters during the offseason. They lost four starters who, along with Damian Lillard, comprised a unit that helped Portland win at least 50 games in back-to-back seasons. The revamped Blazers are building a new identity, though, and hanging tough in the Western Conference playoff race. An emerging CJ McCollum (20.7 ppg) has joined Lillard to form one of the NBA’s highest-scoring backcourts, and other young players such as guard Allen Crabbe (11.2 ppg) and center Meyers Leonard (9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) have made the most of their expanded roles. The Blazers (23-26) have won a season-high four consecutive games and eight of 10 to move into eighth place in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of Utah (21-25). Portland is 4-1 on its seven-game homestand, which wraps up with games against Milwaukee on Tuesday and Toronto on Thursday.

– NBA News

d-wade

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant were today named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Jan. 25 through Sunday, Jan. 31.

Wade led the Heat to a 4-0 week, which included wins over the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks, behind averages of 24.0 points (tied-third in the Eastern Conference), 7.0 assists (fourth in the conference), 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals (tied-eighth in the conference) and 1.75 blocks (tied-fifth in the conference). On Jan. 26, he tallied 27 points, eight assists, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks during a 102-98 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

kevin durant

Durant’s league-best 34.7 points on the week helped the Thunder to a 3-0 record. He ranked fourth in the Western Conference with 11.7 rebounds, contributed 4.3 assists and averaged a conference-high 40.0 minutes. Durant recorded point-rebound double-doubles twice, including a 44-point, 14-rebound outing on Jan. 26, as the Thunder topped the New York Knicks 128-122 in overtime.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Golden State’s Klay Thompson, Indiana’s Monta Ellis, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul, Memphis’ Jeff Green, New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.

Grizzlies sign Ryan Hollins to second 10-day contract

The Memphis Grizzlies announced today that the team has signed center Ryan Hollins to a second 10-day contract.

Hollins (7-0, 240) has averaged 3.1 points and 2.6 rebounds in 10.6 minutes in nine games with the Grizzlies this season. After joining the team for training camp, he was re-signed twice during the season on Dec. 29 (waived on Jan. 7) and to his first 10-day contract on Jan. 21. Between his stay during training camp and his regular season stints with the Grizzlies, Hollins also played five games, making three starts, for the Washington Wizards.

The 31-year-old has averaged 3.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 495 career games (67 starts) over 10 NBA seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats, Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies. A native of Pasadena, Calif., Hollins was selected by Charlotte in the second round (50th overall) of the 2006 NBA Draft following his senior season at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Heat guard Tyler Johnson will undergo shoulder surgery

The HEAT announced today that guard Tyler Johnson will undergo rotator cuff surgery in his left shoulder. The procedure will take place this Wednesday, February 3 at Doctors Hospital in Miami and be performed by HEAT team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick.

Johnson has appeared in 36 games (five starts) with the HEAT this season averaging 8.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 24.0 minutes while shooting 48.8 percent from the field.

Pelicans sign Bryce Dejean-Jones to second 10-day contract

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has signed guard Bryce Dejean-Jones to a second 10-day contract.

Dejean-Jones, 6-6, 203, has appeared in five games (two starts) for the Pelicans, averaging 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game.

Prior to joining New Orleans, Dejean-Jones played for the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League, appearing in nine games (seven starts), averaging 19.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.0 steals in 31.1 minutes per game.

Undrafted out of Iowa State, Dejean Jones was a member of the Pelicans’ 2015 Las Vegas Summer League team and training camp roster. In six summer league contests, Dejean-Jones averaged 12.8 points on .619 shooting from the field, including .500 from three point range, to go along with 1.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.2 assists in 21.7 minutes per game. Appearing in all seven preseason contests for New Orleans, Dejean-Jones averaged 8.9 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists.

Warriors a feature sports attraction

Here’s the Bergen Record reporting on the Golden State Warriors, who won the 2015 NBA championship and are the favorites to win it again this season:

The stands at Madison Square Garden were crowded two hours before the game began. Kids in Golden State Warriors jerseys and their families waited for a glimpse of the greatest show on hardwood.

And the show arrived. Stephen Curry came out for his pregame ritual of machine-gun-speed dribbling and shots from all over the court — all the way to half-court. When the game began it continued, a stream of beautifully orchestrated passes leading to quick-trigger three-point field goals. Curry was contained for the most part, but the Warriors come in waves. On this night it was Klay Thompson (34 points, 14-of-18 shooting) and Draymond Green (20 points, 9-of-9 shooting, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) who carried them to an easy 116-95 win over the Knicks.

The allure of the Warriors isn’t just the magical display of finesse. To have gotten where they are now, the real magic has been in the hearts and minds of the players, an underappreciated toughness up and down the roster. When they were listless in the first quarter Sunday, coach Steve Kerr huddled up the team, smashed the clipboard, and threw it at the bench.

“Coach Kerr got on us pretty good,” Thompson said. “He had a terrible clipboard throw, but other than that, he was very animated on the sideline. We responded well to it. He told us we were playing very embarrassing and to pick it up.”

Here’s ESPN.com reporting on Rockets center Dwight Howard, who is averaging a modest 14.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game this season for the 25-25 squad.

Rockets want some techs against Dwight Howard rescinded

The Houston Rockets have petitioned the NBA to rescind the four technical fouls administered to center Dwight Howard in the past two games, according to a source.

Howard was ejected for picking up two technical fouls in each of the past two games. He leads the NBA with 12 technicals this season and is tied with the Clippers’ Blake Griffin with two ejections.

Howard was ejected from Saturday’s loss to the Washington Wizards for pushing Nene Hilario in the fourth quarter after they were tangled with each other. It was Howard’s second technical of the game. He picked up the first technical with 6 minutes,16 seconds to play in the opening quarter after getting fouled by Jared Dudley, who grabbed Howard in the upper body. Howard was trying to show the referees what Dudley was doing to him by putting his hands behind Dudley’s neck when he was given the technical.

Suns fire coach Jeff Hornacek

Suns fire coach Jeff Hornacek

The 14-35 Phoenix Suns weren’t expected to come anywhere close to competing for an NBA championship this season, or even be one of the league’s better teams, but they certainly seemed capable of being respectable. But through Sunday’s games they are tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 4th worst record in the league. And this morning, they took action.

The Suns announced today that they have relieved Jeff Hornacek of his duties as head coach following his two-plus seasons in the position. The Suns plan to have an interim head coach in place by Tuesday.

Hornacek was named the 16th head coach in franchise history on May 28, 2013, returning to the team with whom he spent his first six professional seasons as a player. In two-plus seasons as head coach of the Suns, Hornacek’s teams compiled a 101-112 (.474) record, including a 14-35 (.286) mark this season. In Hornacek’s inaugural season of 2013-14 the Suns went 48-34 followed by a 39-43 record last season.

Randy Wittman to miss two games

The Washington Wizards announced today that Head Coach Randy Wittman will miss the team’s next two games (Feb. 1 at Oklahoma City and Feb. 3 vs. Golden State) due to the passing of his brother.

Assistant Coach Don Newman will assume head coaching duties for the next two games. Wittman is expected to return to the sidelines for the team’s game on Feb. 5 vs. Philadelphia.

DeMarcus Cousins suffers sprained ankle

DeMarcus Cousins suffers sprained ankle

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins suffered a sprained left ankle late in the fourth quarter of tonight’s game at Memphis.

X-rays taken after the contest were negative and Cousins will be listed as day to day moving forward.

The Kings are 20-27 this season. Cousins is averaging 27.0 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks per game and was recently selected as a reserve for the 2016 Western conference NBA All-Star team.

CJ McCollum is great at mid-range jumpshots

The second-leading scorer on the Portland Trail Blazers (22-26) this season is shooting guard C.J. McCollum, who is averaging 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Here’s the Oregonian with more on his game:

CJ McCollum is great at mid-range jumpshots

As NBA teams across the league look to maximize shot attempts at the rim and beyond the three-point line, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum is capitalizing on a market inefficiency. He’s become a master of the mid-range and developed into one of the league’s most lethal scorers in the often forgotten area between the lane and three-point line.

“It’s been a part of my game for life. It’s tougher to finish in the lane so you’ve got to find different areas to score efficiently and the mid-range contested shot is a shot a lot of teams will live with,” McCollum says. “And it’s a shot I’m willing to live with as well just because I’ve gotten so many shots at it and I’m comfortable with it.”

McCollum is shooting 46.6 percent on mid-range shots season, according to NBA.com. He’s attempted the 12th most mid-range shots in the league and has the highest field goal percentage of anyone in the NBA who has taken at least 250 such shots. He’s shooting better than noted mid-range gunners Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and, yes, even LaMarcus Aldridge.

Paul Millsap has minor ankle sprain

Paul Millsap has minor ankle sprain

In Thursday’s game at Indiana, Paul Millsap suffered a left ankle sprain with 2:50 remaining in the second quarter. He left the contest and did not return. X-rays were negative. He is listed as probable for tomorrow’s game at Miami.

While on D-League assignment with the Austin Spurs, Walter “Edy” Tavares suffered a right hip bruise in the second quarter of last night’s game against Idaho. He didn’t return to the contest, and is listed as probable for Austin’s game tonight vs. Idaho.

The New York Knicks today signed forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo - from the Westchester Knicks - to a 10-day contract. His signing marks the 15th NBA D-League call-up of the season.

Antetokounmpo, 6-7, 205-pounds, is averaging 10.3 points, on 50.2-percent shooting, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.26 blocks over 27.7 minutes in 27 games (25 starts) for the D-League’s Eastern Conference-leading Westchester Knicks (16-11) this season.

The Athens, Greece-native was originally selected by New York in the second round (51st overall) of the 2014 NBA Draft, attending training camp in 2015 before being waived on Oct. 23, 2015, returning to Westchester for the second straight season. He is the older brother of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis.

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