Suns News

Morris, Marshall Begin to Figure Each Other Out

Markieff Morris was double-teamed regularly Friday night, but still led the Suns with 16 points.
(NBAE/Getty Images)
By Aaron Seidlitz, Suns.com
Posted: July 20, 2012

With four of the Phoenix Suns’ five summer league games finished in Las Vegas, the results in terms of wins and losses may not be there but one other important result has been.

And that has been the growth in familiarity between power forward Markieff Morris and rookie point guard Kendall Marshall, both during the game and surrounding it.

The team’s last two lottery picks came together to play for an extended period of time this week, and they have begun the process of learning all about one another.

Marshall said that off the court, the two have gotten along great, and on the court he is trying to do everything he can to learn how to play with his big man.

Morris has also taken it upon himself to help the guard through some early shooting struggles.

“We’ve definitely got a lot of work in together, and I’ve just been telling him to keep his head up and to keep pushing,” Morris said. “He’s going to be a great player, but he’s just going to have to learn the game more and let it come to him.”

While trying to learn the tendencies of his teammates, Marshall said one thing has really stood out to him about Morris’ demeanor on the court.

“His level of aggression,” Marshall said. “There’s nothing that he feels he can’t do out on the court, which is a great attitude that you’re supposed to have. He’s really stepped up for us this week.

“In some of our losing efforts, he competes, plays hard and makes some plays.”

Still, the duo is working on putting it all together during the summer league.

On Friday night, the “Summer Suns” dropped their third game in a row, this time to the NBA D-League Select team by the score of 89-75 at UNLV’s COX Pavilion.

Marshall still hasn’t been able to find the range shooting, but his increased activity on both ends of the courts as the week has gone on allowed the team to find more open scorers and get out on the run more.

On this night, the guard did more to get into the lane and either draw contact, shoot or kick out. He finished the game with 10 points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals.

More attention from other teams has been heaped on Morris, though, especially after his first couple really successful games.

Continually doubled on Friday, the team’s leading scorer finished with 16 points, six rebounds and two assists. The constant attention is something Morris acknowledged after the game.

“That’s good because I’m a great passer, so I can pass out of the double team,” Morris said. ”But I couldn’t tell that until I watched and saw where the double team was coming from.

“We made some adjustments. I talked to the team, and I told them to cut to the basket.”

Those adjustments paid dividends in the second half of this night’s game.

A spark was needed for the Suns after falling behind by 21 points in the first half, and in the third quarter a couple jump shots fell, a few solid defensive possessions got the team into the open court and, suddenly, a 14-1 run was underway.

It wasn’t enough to carry over for a victory, but it did show that things may begin clicking for this summer squad.

Outside of Morris and Marshall, shooting guard Matt Gatens made an impression by scoring 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and 3-of-4 from behind the arc.

“I’m glad to see him hit a couple shots, because he struggled a little bit early on,” said Dan Majerle, the Suns’ summer league head coach. “He’s got a real good attitude, plays really hard and if he shoots the ball like that he’ll get some more time.”

Charles Garcia, the team’s center, added 11 points and five rebounds.

The team will play its fifth and final summer league game Saturday at 7 p.m. back at COX Pavilion against the Memphis Grizzlies.