Pacific Notes: Collison, Chriss, Suns, Williams

With his eight-game suspension about to end, Darren Collison is ready to take over as the Kings‘ starting point guard, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. The suspension, which concludes with tonight’s game, was imposed after Collison pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor domestic battery.Ty Lawson has struggled to run the team in his absence, and Sacramento needs Collison as a stabilizing force after a 2-5 start. “Basketball is an escape,” he said. “I’ve been able to practice and be around the team, and that has helped a lot. Being around the guys has been great. But this is definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns are thrilled by what they’ve seen from rookie power forward Marquese Chriss, who was acquired in a draft-day trade with the Kings, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Phoenix is bringing Chriss along slowly, giving him 15 minutes per night in his first six games, and he has responded with averages of 6.2 points and 3.3 rebounds. Although he is only 19, Chriss believes he is mature enough for the NBA. “Off the court I’ve never had any problems, I never get in conflicts or things like that,” he said. “I’m real mellow, kind of just handle my business and put my head down. I’m just adjusting like everybody else is, getting up every morning, coming to the gym with the mentality that I want to get better and every day has a purpose.”
  • Former Suns coach Alvin Gentry thinks the team made wise moves in reacquiring two of his former players this offseason, relays Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Gentry had high praise for Jared Dudley and Leandro Barbosa, who both returned to Phoenix as free agents. “When I was there, they were great,” Gentry said. “They’re great locker room guys. There’s a maturity about them that they understand where they are in their careers and they’re going to do everything they can to help the young guys. You can put them on the court and they can be productive. That’s a win-win-win all the way around.”
  • The Lakers‘ young players are getting attention, but veteran Lou Williams is helping to close out games, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. The 30-year-old guard had 10 points in the fourth quarter Friday night as L.A. blew out the Warriors“The game turns up down the stretch,” said coach Luke Walton. “It’s harder to run offenses, defenses and they’re flying at you. They’re trapping and switching. So it’s nice to have a vet out there among those young guys. When we call a play and the play is off, Lou can adjust.”

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