Ex-Cats

Ulis taking Knight’s minutes, Booker vs. Carter, plus ex-Cats stats

Phoenix guard Tyler Ulis plays in the second half against Memphis on Tuesday, Feb. 28, in Memphis.
Phoenix guard Tyler Ulis plays in the second half against Memphis on Tuesday, Feb. 28, in Memphis. AP

Since the All-Star break, the Phoenix Suns have turned to former University of Kentucky star Tyler Ulis as one of their first guards off the bench.

That change has come at the expense of another former Cat, Brandon Knight.

Ulis has played double-digit minutes in all three games since the break with his best performance coming in Tuesday night’s 130-112 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The rookie scored nine points with seven assists, one steal and no turnovers in 17 minutes.

Meanwhile, a healthy Knight has logged three straight DNPs.

“We truly have to see if Tyler Ulis can be a dominant ball-handler in the second unit,” Suns Coach Earl Watson told ArizonaSports.com in a story posted before Tuesday’s game. “To play Brandon Knight with Tyler right now makes no sense because Tyler will sometimes, if not half of the time, will end up being off of the ball. We need to see if Tyler can be that guy.”

It was reported that the Suns were trying to move Knight before the trade deadline, but that didn’t happen.

Eric Bledsoe, another former UK player with the Suns, told ArizonaSports.com that the lack of minutes has been frustrating for Knight.

“He’s still young at the end of the day,” Bledsoe said. “He’s 24 years old. Anybody who’s been starting their entire career at the age 24, it’s kind of frustrating coming off the bench. I stay in his ear the whole time … you got to fight through it. Everybody at some point has got to buy into a new role at some point in the career.

“What you don’t want to do is have a bad energy in the locker room, you know, on the court and it shows to the rest of the league.”

Ulis averages 3.3 points and 1.5 assists in 9.4 minutes per game this season. His numbers since the break: 5.7 points, 4.3 assists, one rebound and 0.7 steals in 14.7 minutes.

Booker vs. Carter

Devin Booker wasn’t making any friends with the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night. NBA veteran Vince Carter was ejected from the game against the Phoenix Suns after elbowing the former Cat in the head with an elbow.

Booker had hacked at the ball just before Carter drove to the basket and threw the elbow. The play happened with 3:54 to go in the first quarter. The Grizzlies went on to defeat the Suns 130-112.

“We knew coming in this game was going to be chippy,” Booker told azcentral.com. “It’s not surprising. I like games like that. It’s kind of like the old NBA, more physical. I personally didn’t like him getting ejected. ... I knew I was going to get a hard foul, I just wanted a chance to get somebody back. That’s just how it goes.”

Watson told azcentral.com that the Suns need to add an enforcer to the roster.

“We have to find someone in free agency or the first chance we get who can protect our top offensive players,” Watson said. “That has to happen. If not, Book is going to see a lot of elbows. It’s the reason Kobe (Bryant) went out and got Ron Artest and Matt Barnes. It’s the reason why (Michael) Jordan went out and got guys who could protect him.”

.Memphis Coach David Fizdale’s response to the altercation:

“It is what it is, and, fortunately, Vince is very rich and he can afford the fine,” the Associated Press reported.

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NBA statistics

Statistics (through Feb. 28) for the 24 former Cats playing in the NBA:

Player

Team

G

Min

Pts

Reb

Ast

Stl

Blk

PER

Eric Bledsoe

Suns

59

33.3

21.3

5.0

6.4

1.4

0.5

21.26

Devin Booker

Suns

59

34.6

20.9

2.8

3.1

0.9

0.3

13.98

Willie Cauley-Stein

Kings

53

14.1

6.3

2.9

0.6

0.5

0.5

16.05

DeMarcus Cousins

Pelicans

58

34.1

27.6

10.7

4.8

1.4

1.3

27.08

Anthony Davis

Pelicans

56

36.3

28.1

11.8

2.2

1.3

2.4

27.42

Andrew Harrison

Grizzlies

55

21.2

6.1

1.9

2.9

0.8

0.3

8.85

Terrence Jones

Free agent

51

24.8

11.5

5.9

1.2

0.8

1.0

16.31

Enes Kanter

Thunder

50

21.7

14.3

6.8

1.1

0.4

0.7

24.05

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Hornets

59

29.6

8.9

7.6

1.4

0.9

1.0

13.48

Brandon Knight

Suns

54

21.1

11.0

2.2

2.4

0.5

0.1

12.71

Skal Labissiere

Kings

11

9.4

4.0

3.1

0.4

0.4

0.1

19.07

DeAndre Liggins

Cavaliers

47

13.9

2.8

1.6

1.0

0.8

0.3

7.88

Trey Lyles

Jazz

57

18.3

7.3

3.7

1.1

0.4

0.3

11.24

Jodie Meeks

Magic

24

21.7

8.9

2.3

1.5

1.2

0.1

13.49

Jamal Murray

Nuggets

60

19.9

8.9

2.5

1.8

0.5

0.3

11.06

Nerlens Noel

Mavericks

31

20.0

8.8

5.2

1.0

1.5

0.9

20.30

Patrick Patterson

Raptors

43

26.6

7.1

5.2

1.4

0.7

0.4

10.66

Julius Randle

Lakers

53

28.4

13.0

8.4

3.6

0.8

0.4

16.04

Rajon Rondo

Bulls

51

26.2

6.9

5.1

6.5

1.4

0.2

12.44

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves

60

36.6

24.1

12.2

2.9

0.7

1.4

25.05

Tyler Ulis

Suns

39

9.4

3.3

0.7

1.5

0.6

0.0

10.16

John Wall

Wizards

56

36.7

22.7

4.5

10.8

2.1

0.6

22.79

Kyle Wiltjer

Rockets

9

3.2

1.1

0.8

0.0

0.0

0.1

4.46

James Young

Celtics

23

7.6

2.7

1.0

0.2

0.3

0.0

12.19

D-League statistics

Statistics (through Feb. 28) for the six former Cats playing full-time in the NBA D-League:

Player

Team

G

Min

Pts

Reb

Ast

Stl

Blk

Archie Goodwin

Greensboro Swarm

30

33.1

17.1

5.4

2.1

1.2

0.3

Ramon Harris

Grand Rapids Drive

37

21.8

6.9

3.9

1.0

0.7

0.4

Aaron Harrison

Delaware 87ers

27

32.4

17.0

4.6

2.9

1.3

0.3

Dakari Johnson

Oklahoma City Blue

40

29.6

18.6

8.2

2.5

1.0

1.4

Doron Lamb

Westchester Knicks

30

27.4

11.5

3.1

1.4

0.9

0.1

Alex Poythress

Fort Wayne Mad Ants

33

30.3

18.4

7.3

1.4

0.6

1.6

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats

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