MORRISON STARS IN SUMMER LEAGUE FOR CLIPPERS
Adam Morrison walked alone down the tunnel leading out of the Clippers’ locker room at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas after a three-point loss to the Chicago Bulls. His right knee wrapped in ice, the one-time co-National Player of the Year at Gonzaga looked spent.
It was his ninth game in 13 days, playing heavy minutes for the Brooklyn Nets’ Summer League team in Orlando and doing the same a week later with the Clippers’ Summer League entry in Vegas.
“I’m tired, to be honest,” Morrison said after scoring 18 points in the Clippers’ 77-74 loss to the Bulls. “I’ve been going since July 5, but I’m trying to make it into the league so this is what I had to do.”
Morrison’s story is well-documented.
He went from versatile scorer and national star at Gonzaga to No. 3 pick by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006. A half-decade later, the 28-year-old small forward is trying to revive his NBA career.
It’s easy to forget he averaged more than 11 points per game his rookie season in Charlotte and tore the anterior cruciate-ligament in his left knee before his follow-up campaign could begin. It’s also easy to forget that his journey has included two championship rings as a rarely used reserve on the Lakers and stints in Serbia and Turkey.
“For a guy like me, I’ve kind of been typecast so I kind of have to prove that I’m not what people think of me or whatever,” Morrison said. “It’s difficult but it’s the predicament [that I’m in]. This is the only chance I get.”
It seems he’s working hard to prove he’s a more complete player than he was when he came into the league six years ago. He’s tracking down rebounds, grabbing six on Sunday, and showing an ability to make good decisions with the ball, including a couple of precise assists; dribbling ahead on the break and finding Antoine Wright for a wing 3-pointer and another off a double-team for a jumper by Cameron Moore.
“I understand, still, this is Summer League, and all, but I still showed that I can handle [the ball],” Morrison said. “And that I’m healthy and can move around.”
Clippers Summer League coach Robert Pack expanded on Morrison’s all-around game after Sunday’s win over the Celtics.
“I think today he did a really good job of reading screens and getting off the ball, attacking the basket, and when guys doubled him he made the passes,” Pack said. “It showed that guys who are just shooters they only see you if you’re sitting on top of the rim, but today he was able to make some passes that really showed him as a basketball player.”
But it’s still Morrison’s scoring that could vault him back into the league. In his Summer League finale, he had a game-high 26 points to lead the Clippers and made four of his six 3-pointers.
In the first quarter he knocked down consecutive long balls from the left wing, one on a drive to his left and another as a spot up shooter. From the bench, Wright looked at teammate Marcus Hubbard, who was seated next to him, and could only grin.
Morrison finished his run in Vegas making 13-of-21 shots from downtown (61.9%) and averaging 20.0 points and 5.0 rebounds.
“He’s a video game,” center Hilton Armstrong said of his long-haired teammate. “I’m glad he’s on my team.”
After the game Sunday, Morrison was hopeful that someone took notice, saying he knew it was the “last time somebody could see him play” in his quest to make an opening-night roster in the fall.
“Adam’s been amazing,” Pack said. “He’s kind of known as a guy who can put the ball in the hole and we tried to put him in some situations where he could be successful and not have to force shots and just play his game. I think he took advantage of the opportunity and played very well. It was good to see him have somewhat of a big come out.”