UK Men's Basketball

Ex-Cats notes: Orton still in Sixers' plans; Wall gets Wizards back to .500

Milwaukee Bucks' Zaza Pachulia, right, cannot get a shot past the Philadelphia 76ers' Daniel Orton during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, in Philadelphia.
Milwaukee Bucks' Zaza Pachulia, right, cannot get a shot past the Philadelphia 76ers' Daniel Orton during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, in Philadelphia. Associated Press

When former University of Kentucky center Daniel Orton signed with the Philadelphia 76ers before the NBA season, it looked like he'd finally have an opportunity for more playing time to prove he belongs in the league. With fellow ex-Cat Nerlens Noel sidelined for perhaps the whole season, Orton averaged 3.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game in November, including 10 points and 10 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 23.

But Orton fell out of Coach Brett Brown's rotation in December when he averaged 1.3 points in 4.4 minutes in 13 games. He didn't play at all in five of those. Brown said that he plans for that to change, however, on the team's current road trip, which will include three games in four days starting Jan. 1 at Denver.

"He's young and taken some hits along the way, but he's still here and I'm thrilled that he is here," Brown said Saturday in an interview before the team's game against the Phoenix Suns. "He's still a 23-year-old 7-footer with mobility and needs to be looked at. ... He is not forgotten at all."

Brown said Orton, who is playing for his third NBA team after seasons with the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder, has handled his limited minutes as well as can be expected.

"He's been a young guy that played behind DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky — never really played a bunch. Ended up a gypsy at a young age being bounced around to all different teams. ... I hope he's come in here and he realizes he's got a coaching staff that's with him, he's got teammates that are trying to help him. It hasn't translated to big minutes on the floor. He's endured that. It's always frustrating for anybody to not let hard work have a chance to prevail because a coach doesn't play him but here he is and I think he's feels like he's maybe found a home that has a chance."

Wall and Wizards get back to .500

John Wall scored 29 points to go with seven assists and the Washington Wizards rallied past the Detroit Pistons at Auburn Hills, Mich.

Washington trailed 87-78 before starting the final period with a 17-4 run.

The Wizards (14-14) are at .500 after 28 games for the first time since finishing the 2007-08 season 43-39.

"We came back and fought in the second half," Wall said. "Most of their points in the first half came on second-chance points and they killed us in the paint. We just came in at halftime and said we have to rebound."

Double-double for Davis

Tyreke Evans hit a pull-up jumper from 17 feet with 1.2 seconds left and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the visiting Portland Trail Blazers 110-108 on Monday night.

Evans' big basket came right after Portland's Damian Lillard, who has hit several game-winners this season, made a contested three-pointer to tie the score at 108.

Anthony Davis had 27 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. He forced LaMarcus Aldridge into a tough shot from the baseline that bounced off the top of the backboard as time ran out.

"I thought they were going to try to give him the ball and hit a jump shot," Davis said. "I just tried to play good defense on him and put my hands up and make him shoot real high."

Suns rout Clippers in Bledsoe's return to L.A.

Goran Dragic had 26 points and eight assists before sitting out the fourth quarter, Gerald Green added 21 points off the bench, and the Phoenix Suns ended the year with a 107-88 rout of the host Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.

The Suns have won 10 of their last 12 after a 9-9 start under first-year coach Jeff Hornacek, and trail the defending Pacific Division champion Clippers by a half-game for the top spot.

Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford each scored 15 points for Los Angeles, while Chris Paul had 11 points and seven assists. It was the most lopsided loss of the season for the Clippers, who beat the Suns the previous three times they hosted them -- by an average margin of 20 points.

Eric Bledsoe, who came in as Phoenix's leading scorer with an 18.4 average, played his first game against the team he spent his first four NBA seasons with and finished with seven points and four assists in 31 minutes.

Bledsoe was traded to Phoenix last July with Caron Butler as part of a three-team deal with Milwaukee that brought J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley to Los Angeles. Redick has missed the last 16 games because of a broken bone in his right hand and a ligament tear in his wrist.

D-League stint a possibility for Rondo

Boston Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said Rajon Rondo's rehabilitation from a torn right ACL might include a stint with the team's D-League affiliate in Maine. The Boston Globe reported that Stevens said Rondo wouldn't likely return to the Celtics during their five-game West Coast road trip beginning on Jan. 5.

"That is something that has been discussed, probably some positives and negatives to that, but at the end of the day, it is an option as part of his rehabilitation," Stevens told The Globe.

"Physically, I think he's looking better and better," Stevens said. "But that's to be expected, you're going to gain more confidence but I don't know when that translates to ready to play."

The Celtics haven't used their D-League affiliate for rehabilitation in the past, but Stevens said that could change.

"I think the D-League will be used for rehabbing more than it has been, over the next four or five years," Stevens said. "And it makes a lot of sense. It's like all the time you see Major League Baseball players play in Triple-A, you see all that. But that would be a question for (Rondo). ... It's a possibility for sure."

Liggins earns D-League honor

Former Kentucky standout DeAndre Liggins, who plays for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, was the D-League's player of the week for games from Dec. 23 through Sunday.

Liggins averaged 23.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks in three games. He's averaging 16.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists this season.