Southwest Notes: Brooks, Grizzlies, McCollum, Nance, THJ, Osman

Dillon Brooks, who has been lauded by Rockets coaches and teammates alike for the grit and toughness he has brought to his new team in Houston, believes his former club in Memphis has missed the edge he brought to the court, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required) writes. Ahead of his first meeting against Memphis on Wednesday, Brooks said the Grizzlies “have no swagger” this season without him.

“It’s like the girlfriend that you used to have,” Brooks said of his departure from the Grizzlies, who have a 3-10 record. “You don’t know how good she is until she’s gone.”

Asked about Brooks’ comments, Grizzlies wing Desmond Bane said he “hasn’t seen anything that he’s said,” while Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins took the high road, saying that he’s “really happy for (Brooks’) early-season success,” per Wynston Wilcox of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Although they weren’t willing to get dragged into a war of words with Brooks, it sounds like there are certainly some Grizzlies players who are looking forward to facing their former teammate.

“I want to play against him,” Jaren Jackson Jr. told Wilcox. “I’ve been talking trash to Dillon for five years, so it’s great.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • While it remains unclear exactly when they’ll return to game action, injured Pelicans veterans CJ McCollum (collapsed lung) and Larry Nance Jr. (rib fracture) are trending in the right direction. Both players were full participants in practice on Tuesday, according to head coach Willie Green (Twitter link via Will Guillory of The Athletic). McCollum, who said he also fractured a rib, told reporters that he feels good and is awaiting medical clearance from his pulmonologist, per Christian Clark of “I should be cleared here pretty soon,” he said.
  • Even without McCollum and Nance available, the Pelicans have been playing good basketball lately, winning three of their last four games, including a 36-point blowout over Sacramento on Monday. As Clark details for, star forward Zion Williamson said a team meeting helped spark the turnaround. “We weren’t on the same page before,” Williamson said. “Now we’re all on the same page. … We talked about what we wanted to do as a unit. That’s what we are going to live and die with. Since we are all on the same page, I think we have been gelling together a lot better.”
  • Mavericks wing Tim Hardaway Jr. had started more often than not in his previous four-plus seasons in Dallas, but he has embraced a sixth man role this season, writes Eddie Sefko of Hardaway’s 18.2 points per game and .405 3PT% would be career highs. “I said before, first and foremost, in order for you to know that you’re going in that role, you have to embrace it and accept it,” Hardaway said. “That’s what (Jamal Crawford) did. That’s what (Lou Williams) did. That’s what J.R. Smith did. And that’s what I’m trying to do is have that same mentality.”
  • When the Spurs acquired Cedi Osman as part of the three-team sign-and-trade deal sending Max Strus to Cleveland, it wasn’t clear whether the veteran forward would even be in their plans. However, Osman is playing well in a regular role off the bench and has earned praise from head coach Gregg Popovich, who called him “a competitor of the highest order,” according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required). “He’s been really good for us,” Popovich said of the 28-year-old, who is on an expiring contract.
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