Morning Shootaround — Feb. 25

Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.

The one recap to watch: When the Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay to Toronto as part of a three-team swap, we had our questions before the deal went down as to why Memphis would even ponder such a move. Teams in their pecking order in the West didn’t lose too much sleep over what the Grizz did (the Warriors, in particular, had clear thoughts on the deal) and a 1-3 start to the post-Gay era didn’t engender much hope in Memphis’ future. But as we detail below, Memphis is back to its grit-and-grind self. That makes last night’s Nets-Grizzlies recap as one to watch (particularly if you enjoy seeing Memphis play its unique style of basketball).:

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News of the morning

Report: Thunder bring back Fisher | Jackson praises Jack’s leadership | Grizz getting back on track | Stoudemire delivering for Knicks | Pistons get good news on Knight

Report: Thunder bring back FisherIn one of the more surprising trade deadline moves in recent memory, the Lakers dealt stalwart defensive point guard Derek Fisher to Houston last season for Jordan Hill. After Fisher was sent to Houston, the Rockets agreed to a buyout of his contract so he could sign with a contender, which he did, joining the Oklahoma City Thunder for the final 20 games of the season and the playoffs. The Thunder opted not to re-sign Fisher in the offseason and he played nine games with the Dallas Mavericks before being waived on Dec. 22. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that Fisher is headed back to OKC and will sign his deal with the Thunder on Monday:

The Oklahoma City Thunder have reached agreement to sign veteran guard Derek Fisher for the remainder of the season, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Fisher arrived in Oklahoma City Sunday night and will sign his contract on Monday.

Fisher, 38, signed with the Thunder late last season and helped Oklahoma City make its push to the NBA Finals. He joined the Dallas Mavericks early this season and played nine games in December before suffering a knee injury. He asked the Mavericks to release him, so he could spend more time with his family.

The Thunder have room for another guard after trading Eric Maynor to the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday. Reggie Jackson is receiving most of the backup point guard minutes behind Russell Westbrook.

Fisher joined the Thunder last March after the Los Angeles Lakers traded him to the Houston Rockets and he negotiated a buyout. He averaged 6.3 points and 1.3 assists in 20 playoff games for the Thunder last season.

Fisher has remained president of the National Basketball Players Association, which recently ousted Billy Hunter as its executive director.

ESPN.com first reported that Fisher was close to the signing with the Thunder.

Jack praised as Warriors’ leader For the Golden State Warriors, David Lee is the 2013 All-Star member, Stephen Curry is the thrilling, do-it-all point guard, Klay Thompson is the enticing shooting guard prospect and Harrison Barnes is the high-flying rookie. Although this doesn’t fully encompass the Warriors’ talent base — we’re leaving Andrew Bogut and some others out here — these are the names most think of with the team. But the player who has made the biggest impact for Golden State in terms of leadership, clutch playmaking and veteran know-how is Jarrett Jack. Warriors coach Mark Jackson had nothing but praise for Jack, who was instrumental in Sunday’s win over the Timberwolves, writes Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Jarrett Jack will be praised for giving the Warriors their first fourth-quarter lead with a three-pointer in the final two minutes Sunday and for setting up the bucket 40 seconds later that resulted in a lead they would not relinquish.

Jack actually started leading the Warriors to their 100-99 matinee victory over Minnesota an hour before the game tipped off at the Target Center.

When two of the team’s rookies wanted barbecue sandwiches and fries in the pregame locker room, Jack reminded the first-year players that the game started in an hour. They quietly switched their orders to chicken sandwiches with no fries.

“That’s who he is for us,” Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said. “He’s been a leader, and he’s been a no-nonsense guy with a tremendous voice.”

And Jack has been pretty stinking good on the court, too. Jack had team highs with 23 points and eight assists, provided the Warriors with their only energy in the first half, and then made all of the clutch plays down the stretch.

“We try to have resolve, man,” Jack said. “We’ve got resiliency and fight. The one thing we respect above all is effort, and through it all – the turnovers, missed shots and everything that wasn’t going our way – we still played hard.”

The Warriors (33-23) have won three in a row after a season-worst, six-game skid to move 1 1/2 games back of Denver for the fifth spot in the Western Conference. Seventh-place Utah is two games behind the Warriors, followed by eighth-place Houston (three games back) and the ninth-place Lakers (5 1/2 games back).

It’s a good thing for the Warriors that they were playing the Timberwolves (20-33), who have lost 18 of their past 22 games and 18 of their past 23 against Golden State, and it’s a good thing the Warriors have Jack.

Jack is the NBA’s first player to come off the bench to record at least 23 points and eight assists in consecutive games since Clyde Drexler did it for Portland in 1985-86. Jack is the first Warriors reserve to score 20 points in three straight games since Corey Maggette accomplished the feat in 2009.

“Having someone like coach Jackson and these teammates, who have a world of confidence in me, goes a long way,” said Jack, who said he has never experienced a stretch like this in the NBA. “Confidence is the No. 1 thing in this game. I’ve always believed in myself, but they continuously show that they believe in me to handle the ball at the end of games, giving me big shots and putting me in huge situations.”

On-court stuff is way easier than handling the rookies’ eating habits.

Grizz keep on rollingTalk of the sky falling in Memphis after the Rudy Gay trade was a popular topic and Memphis, for its part, did little to quell that by going 1-3 immediately after the deal. But if you haven’t been paying attention, the Grizzlies boast the NBA’s second-longest win streak (behind Miami’s 11-game run) with a seven-game win streak. Not surprisingly, the Grizz are getting it done with a healthy dose of defense. As well, one of the players they got in the Gay deal — Tayshaun Prince — has fit in well with Memphis’ defense and was crucial in Sunday nights road win against the Nets, writes Ronald Tillery of The (Memphis) Commercial-Appeal:

There were questions when the Grizzlies’ revolving door stopped spinning — doubts about how quickly and how soon a collection of new players would mesh.

A bit of suspicion even crept in as the Griz began to build a winning streak that is now close to their season-best mark established in November. After all, Memphis’ previous five opponents before Sunday own a combined winning percentage of .354.

However, the Grizzlies’ 76-72 victory over the Brooklyn Nets before 17,098 in the Barclays Center provided more evidence that there still is one constant amid change, quality of opposition and venue.

Like a picture in a frame, the Grizzlies’ defense remains the same. The Griz dominated without the ball when it mattered most as their winning streak swelled to seven games.

“This was a test game to see if we are playing well or not, and to come in and beat a very good team on the road says a lot,” Griz point guard Mike Conley said. “It says a lot about our integrity and ability to step up in big games.”

That, and how stingy the Grizzles can be.

The Nets didn’t score in the final 2:50. Griz center Marc Gasol had two blocks, guard Tony Allen added another and Tayshaun Prince grabbed a steal as the Griz closed the game on a 9-0 run.

No play was bigger than Allen’s block on a shot by Nets guard Deron Williams with the score knotted at 72 and 26.9 seconds left. Williams drove by Allen but was met at the basket by Zach Randolph. Allen recovered to reject Williams’ shot from behind.

“I just had my antennas up and was ready to be aggressive,” Allen said. “And I thank Zach for being there to stop his angle. Once he cocked the ball back I was able to get my hand on the ball.”

Stoudemire stepping up more and moreAs Amar’e Stoudemire recovered from offseason knee surgery and the Knicks got out to an 21-9 start without him, talk in New York and around the league was how he’d fit in to what New York is doing once healthy. Although the Knicks are 6-6 since Stoudemire returned and had a four-game win streak entering Sunday’s game against the Sixers, New York seems to be working their big man back into the mix. He came through with a solid performance in a win last night and is getting more and more into a flow, writes Barbara Barker of Newsday:

While he sat out the first two months of the season recovering from knee surgery, many wondered if he ever would be a big-time player again. Their fears seemed to be confirmed when he returned from injury and coach Mike Woodson decided that the best thing to do with him — the best thing to do with the fourth-highest-paid player in the NBA — was to bring him off the bench.

Suddenly, however, it appears to have been a wee bit early to throw Stoudemire into the has-been heap. Since returning from the knee injury on New Year’s Day, he has been getting stronger and stronger.

“I thought Amar’e was solid,” Woodson said. “He was catching the ball on the block, he had a couple of offensive putbacks, he made his jump shots. He did a little bit of everything. That’s what we’re going to need him to do the rest of the way.”

It was Stoudemire’s first 20-point game of the season and even featured a very athletic reverse dunk that thrilled the Garden crowd.

It may have been his best game, but it wasn’t his only important one. Since coming back from the knee injury, Stoudemire has averaged 13.7 points and 5.0 rebounds despite playing limited minutes. And he seems to be getting stronger.

“I’m 100 percent. I feel strong in every aspect,” he said after the game. “I think the limited minutes are great for me so far. It’s keeping me fresh and I feel great.”

Stoudemire was careful and diplomatic Sunday, however, when asked if it is hard for him to accept his role as a reserve when he is playing this well. He said he wants to do whatever the team needs him to do.

Stoudemire did admit, however, that it is difficult to be on the bench at the end of games.

“As long as we’re winning, it’s not hard,” he said. “When we start losing a bit, it gets you thinking about it.”

Pistons’ Knight gets some good newsPistons second-year guard Brandon Knight suffered a knee injury against Charlotte last Wednesday and many around Detroit were hoping that it wasn’t anything serious. The good news for the Pistons, writes Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press, is that Knight’s MRI came back negative. But the Pistons are also expecting Knight to miss a few games while he recovers from the hyperextended knee:

Pistons doctor Ben Paolucci visited Knight before Friday night’s game with Indiana, but coach Lawrence Frank said he’s day-to-day and won’t play again until he’s 100%.

Knight suffered an injured knee and ankle in the victory against Charlotte on Wednesday and missed Friday night’s game. The MRI showed swelling but no damage.

“He has fluid behind his knee,” Frank said. “You can see it. He can’t really jump, and he just doesn’t have total confidence in it. The MRI, like I said, was more for precautionary reasons. It didn’t show anything other than what we already diagnosed. It’ll be day-to-day. He’ll be taking some medication and just kind of see how he does in terms of trying to get the swelling down.”

Knight said he felt fine before the game as he rushed to the court to put up some shots.

There’s no rush to get him back into the lineup, especially with the way the team is struggling.

Knight had one of his better games against Charlotte when the injury occurred. He finished with 21 points.

“He was in the facility all day today getting treatment and shooting some shots to see how he felt,” Frank said. “They’ll give him whatever medication they’ll give him, but until he’s cleared he won’t be doing anything.”

ICYMI of the night: The healthier Ricky Rubio gets, the more we get to see plays like this amazing behind-the-back dime to Andrei Kirilenko on the fast break … :

13 Comments

  1. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    You’re the man, Derek Fisher! You know OKC Thunder are going to win it all this year!!! Yes, they’ve struggled against Miami … but I think OKC was partially experimenting. So if they do face Miami again (probably) in this year’s Finals, OKC has strategies ready to pummel the Heat. We may need Fisher to hit a couple 3s. Nice addition of Ronnie Brewer for extra defense. We’ll miss Eric Maynor, but he’ll get more playing time with Portland cause Portland has a weak bench.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      My opinion on OKC being this year’s NBA World Champs may hold some water because I try to watch every minute of every single Thunder game, season and playoffs.

      I noticed the Thunder played a little differently than usual in a recent home game against the Heat. As if to purposely try to see what the Thunder weaknesses are. Now, come playoff time, lights out. Thunder will dominate, sweeping their ways to the Finals!!!!!
      ;-)

  2. Ah, I see……you are counting the loss on Jan. 31 that the Grizz took without the new players acquired in the trade. That makes a lot of sense to count against them in regards to how Memphis has played as a result of the trade.

    And thanks Jeremy for the clarification! That one did slip my mind. I would have replied directly, but my laptop won’t allow me to for some reason. Thanks again!

  3. W/E says:

    AWw man Fisher is getting his 6th ring this year, the guy knows what he is doing.

  4. Shawn Kemp No. 1 says:

    Jack should have been ejected, what the hell NBA??? Double standards?

  5. 99.9% sure that the Grizzlies are 8-2 since the trade………not sure where 1-3 start after the trade comes from

    • Jeremy says:

      Rudy Gay was traded on Jan 30. The game Grizz at OKC on Jan 31 is the first after the trade, and starting from this game, the results are:

      L @ OKC
      W vs WAS
      L vs PHX
      L @ ATL
      W vs GSW
      W vs MIN
      W vs SAC
      W @ DET
      W @ TOR
      W vs ORL
      W @ BKN

      so it is 1-3 start followed by 7 straight wins.

  6. John says:

    fisher is such a scum. he used his family to bail out on his team. he did it with utah and now with dallas. i hope okc gets booted out in the 1st round.

  7. Tom says:

    Fisher’s such a dog. Bails on the Mavs to be with his family then joins the thunder to try and get another piggyback ring.

  8. big jebb says:

    Alright DK is back for OKC’S Title run,another ring for his finger.

  9. dattebayo says:

    How come Jarret Jack can give a forearm shiver to another player during a stoppage of play and not got ejected by the refs for it? That’s the most pressing question I have from last nights game in the Twin Cities.

    • Hm says:

      He also threw his legs out at CP3’s bum knee in his second game back. They used to be teammates, mind you.