Duane Rankin: “We don’t deserve an all-star break. We need to work on our game as players. I know me, I’m going to be at all-star weekend, but right after that, I’ve got to touch a basketball and still polish up on things. I hope that everybody has that same mindset.” #Suns Devin Booker
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Gina Mizell: I asked Kokoskov about the closed-door meeting after Denver loss: “It’s a healthy, good thing…we call ourselves ‘family,’ and a family’s got moments where you have to close the doors and discuss some things. Trust me, there’s no drama. There’s no story behind it.” #Suns
The Suns extended what is usually a 10-minute cooling off period to almost an hour talking about, well, they didn’t reveal what they discussed. “We’re just going to keep everything in-house,” Suns 18-year veteran Jamal Crawford said in a calm, relaxed voice. “We had a nice talk. That’s it.” The locker room was initially opened after the 10-minute cooling off period, but the media was asked to go back outside. Another 40 minutes went by before it was open again. Hmmm.
So when asked what led to the postgame meeting, Devin Booker looked up and said: “What meeting.” Really Devin? “I just showered,” Booker said. Wasn’t that a longer cooling off period than normal, though? “I like long showers,” Booker said with a grin.
Gina Mazell: After his exchange with Igor Kokoskov spread on the Interwebs last night, Mikal Bridges said he apologized to his coach on the flight back from Portland: “All he was trying to do was just get my attention. I was kind of beating up on myself, and I was being disrespectful.” #Suns
Gina Mazell: More Bridges: “I know how I was raised. My mom was even beating me up (about) it…we’re good now. We talked about it, and saw each other today like it really didn’t even happen.” Important to note that Bridges has constantly been praised for his maturity as a rookie. #Suns
That led to Ayton talking about being an “emotional guy,” which showed itself when he and Booker, who is out with a hamstring injury, exchanged words with the media present in the locker room following the 10-minute cooling off period. While they didn’t scream at each other, Booker and Ayton clearly were at odds.
“I start to feel stuff,” Ayton said. “When I don’t sense it, that the energy is not there, that’s when you start to hear my mouth. I don’t care who it is. Nineteen-year vet or 15 years, it doesn’t matter. We all have a job to do and I have to step it up a little more, too. Just show more. Even if I think I’m showing more, just show extra. Exaggerate it a little bit just to make it spread. Make it vocal. Make everybody see it.”
Phoenix’s top two players, Booker and Ayton, exchanged words after the 10-minute cooling off period as members of the media entered the visiting locker room for the tail end of that conversation. These two have had words before on the court, with Booker correcting Ayton on what to do on certain plays. Both have agreed to hold players accountable, but this felt different. “I’m an emotional guy, too,” Ayton said. “I start to feel stuff. When I don’t sense it and the energy is not there, that’s when you start to hear my mouth. I don’t care who it is. Nineteen-year vet or 15 years, it don’t matter. We all have a job to do and I have to step it up a little more, too.”
From Jamal Crawford, one of the more positive players in the NBA, slamming the ball on the floor at the end of the third quarter to the friction on the bench between Bridges and Kokoskov, the frustration was apparent. “How long have you been around basketball,” Suns veteran Trevor Ariza asked a reporter in a calm voice when asked what the conversations are like on the bench when trailing by 25 after the first quarter. “So what do you think the conversation would be like after that? “Probably not very positive.” Ariza laughed. “Exactly,” he said. “Not too happy, but again, that’s on us for not playing hard.”
Being 4-21 can bring out the worst in a team and Kokoskov, a first-year NBA head coach, has the challenge of trying to keep the Suns together just as all seems lost right now for an franchise having its worst start ever. “At this point, we’ve got to just look in the mirror,” Suns reserve center Richaun Holmes said. “We’ve got to change something.”
Jamal Crawford: Frustrations are part of the game, but we won’t let the outside divide us. Win as a team, lose as one…
Booker isn’t certain how to make this happen, but he knows the Suns need to establish the type of closeness that allows them to get on each other. “All good teams have that trust and chemistry where you’re able to get on each other and know it’s for a better purpose,” Booker said. “I don’t think we have that right now. We’re not comfortable with each other. Step on each other’s toes. We don’t push each other. I think that’s what we need to do.”
Ayton has an idea of how do to that. “Know who to yell at, know who not to tell at,” Ayton said. “Know who to encourage. There’s certain guys on the team, you curse them out, you’re basically cursing with them. That’s what amps them up. Cuss me out. Like, why you not on me? Some guys, you have say, ‘Come on man, let’s go, let’s go.’ ”
Scott Bordow: News: Suns are saying Chriss isn’t suspended per se but won’t be at Sunday’s game. They’re describing it as a cooling off period. Chriss was not at practice today. Both McDonough and Triano told me thy’re handling it “in house.”
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February 22, 2019 | 9:34 pm EST Update
Jonathan Feigen: Rockets announce the signings or Chris Chiozza and Terrence Jones to 10-day contracts. Chiozza assigned to the Vipers.
Mark Berman: #Rockets announced signing of @Terrence Jones. He’ll be in uniform Saturday night against Golden St: “Just excitement, it’s a blessing. I’m happy to be with the team. Just to be able to get familiar with Coach Mike & the offense early, I’m definitely ready if my number gets called”
Rod Boone: Final: #Hornets 123, Wizards 110 Kemba 27 points/11 assists Nic Batum 20 points/8 rebounds J. Lamb 16 points/6 rebounds Miles Bridges 14 points/6 rebounds Bradley Beal 46 points/7 assists/6 rebounds Hornets start off their 4-game homestand with a win. Brooklyn up next tomorrow
Chase Hughes: Bradley Beal is now tied with Earl Monroe for 5th in Wizards/Bullets franchise history for most 40-point games. He has 10. The guys still ahead of him: Gilbert Arenas (28) Walt Bellamy (23) Bernard King (13) Elvin Hayes (11)
Darnell Mayberry: Final: Bulls 110, Magic 109. Lauri Markkanen makes the game-winning free throws after being fouled on a 3 by Aaron Gordon with 1.5 seconds left. Markkanen finishes with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Zach LaVine with 22 points and six assists.