The Emergence of Marcus Morris

by Ben York

On February 6 against the Jazz, Marcus Morris had the best game of his NBA career.

In an amazing offensive and defensive display, Morris had career-highs of 34 points (11-17 FG, 5-7 3FG, 7-8 FT) and 12 rebounds off the bench to record his first career double-double.

In the effort, Morris became the first Sun to have at least 30 points and 10 rebounds off the bench since Danny Manning (35 points, 10 rebounds) did so on November 14, 1997 at Portland. Additionally, Marcus also became just the fourth player in the NBA since 1985-86 to have at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and five three-point makes off the bench, joining J.R. Smith (2013), Antawn Jamison (2012) and Donyell Marshall (2005) (Basketball-Reference).

In many ways, it was confirmation of what he – and the entire team – already knew. That is to say, this was far from a fluke. In 46 games as a reserve, Marcus Morris is averaging 10.1 points while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from three-point territory.

But with recent injuries to both the Suns front and backcourt, Morris has stepped up in a starting role as well. In 26 starts this season, he’s averaged over 11 points while shooting over 40 percent from the floor in addition to 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in just 28.1 minutes.

“It’s not really about me,” Morris said. “It’s about what coach needs and what the team needs. We have a lot of talent on this team and we’re fighting to get into the playoffs.

“We all have to step our game up and stick together.”

With increased playing time in 2014-15, Morris is averaging career highs in points (10.4), field goal percentage (44.3), rebounds (4.5) and assists (1.6).

Take, for example, his recent game against the Kings. Morris scored 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-6 three-pointers, with 10 points coming in the fourth quarter.

To date, Marcus has now scored 17-plus points in four of his last six games, averaging 14.5 points on 46.1 percent shooting, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists over this six-game stretch.

“He’s been big for us,” Hornacek said. “With some of the guys injured, we’ve needed that boost in scoring and energy. He’s hit some big shots and starting to find a rhythm. He’s been one of the more consistent guys the last couple weeks and we’ll need that in these final 10 games.”

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