Morris twins stand out vs. Blazers in Day 1 in Vegas
A subpar first half, complete with less than 30-percent shooting, could have set a depressing tone for Phoenix at the Las Vegas Summer League.
Instead the Suns regrouped at halftime behind a familiar duo in Markieff and Marcus Morris. The Suns veteran twin combo wasn’t alone, getting plenty of help from rookies and D-League prospects alike as Phoenix ran away with an 82-69 win over Portland on Saturday.
“I thought they had a little bit of jitters in the first half,” said Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. “The second half was great. They were aggressive defensively. Offensively we moved the ball much better. We pounded the glass. We just played aggressive.”
Markieff Morris settled in with the rest of the Suns for an efficient effort after halftime. He hit a handful of jumpers while making an increased effort on the defensive end after Portland hurt the Suns inside early and often. Morris finished with 18 points and five rebounds.
Marcus Morris added 14 points and five rebounds. A first-quarter sequence saw Morris save the Suns with a step-back 3-pointer as the shot clock was about to expire, then block Portland prize rookie CJ McCollum’s driving shot attempt at the other end.
“In the first half [the Morris twins] were pressing a little bit in trying to score,” Hornacek said. “When they let it come to them, it came to them a little bit easier. They just played with a rythmn and a flow. The game’s a lot easier when you play that way.”
Onuaku impresses with big effort on the boards
Former Syracuse and D-League star Arinze Onuaku couldn’t have made a much better impression in his first game with the summer league Suns, finishing with 11 rebounds in just 17 minutes of playing time.
The Maryland native used his combination of size (6-9, 276 pounds) and instincts for the ball to repeatedly outposition his opponents in the paint. Four of his 11 boards came on the offensive glass, and Onuaku finished the majority of them with putbacks at the rim.
“He’s a big strong kid and he did a nice job for us getting those boards,” Hornacek said.
Backcourt combos have their moments
In the third quarter it was Kendall Marshall and Archie Goodwin. In the fourth, it was Dionte Christmas and Diante Garrett.
Whatever guard combo Jeff Hornacek used in the second half, it ended up yielding good results.
Goodwin debuted strongly, especially in the second half, finishing with 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting to go along with three rebounds. The 29th overall pick in last month’s draft, Goodwin was usually on the finishing end of transition opportunities Marshall started. The second-year guard picked his spots, ending up with five points and four assists.
Christmas showed well with his speed and playmaking ability, scoring a 3-pointer in transition off a feed from Garrett on one possession before switching roles on a drive-and-dish to Markieff Morris for a 15-foot jumper. He followed with another assist, hitting a cutting Garrett for an easy basket.
The Suns’ next game is Monday at 3:30 p.m. against Minnesota at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.