On more than one occasion this season, Marcus Morris Sr. has expressed the feeling that he wasn’t sure what his place was on the team last year. He came in midseason at the trade deadline to a team that didn’t practice frequently, and the league was shut down about a month later. Then he was late to the bubble and had to play catch up yet again.
Morris reiterated that sentiment last night after he played spectacularly against the Heat in the team’s win, and he credits his improved play to the fact that he now knows what he is supposed to be doing when he gets on the court.
“The biggest difference, is just, having that exact — you know, from T. Lue, just talking to me and telling me exactly what he want me to do,” Morris said. “Last year, I felt like I was a lot of times in no man’s land; I couldn’t really put my finger on my role. This year, I’m coming off — I’m coming off to be aggressive, coming off to bring energy, shoot the ball. The guys I’m playing with, I’m just playing off them.”
The coaching staff knows how talented Morris is as a scorer; it takes a certain level of skill to pop off for 26 points in one half and to be second in the league in 3-point percentage (of players with at least 50 attempts). But it’s also clear that Morris has to take a step back on most nights when the Clippers have their full complement of players. The Clippers showed how much they valued him during the offseason, so Morris willingly made a sacrifice to come off the bench after seeing how Nic Batum fit with the starters. In return, Ty Lue tries to make Morris’ job easier by running after timeout plays for him so that the 10th-year forward doesn’t have to press for shots.
The beauty of Morris, though, is that when his role expands — like it did when four Clippers were missing and Morris was pushed into the starting lineup — he is ready to meet the moment, as he did against Miami. He even had his first dunk of the season off a broken play.
It continued a strong stretch for Morris, who has developed a good chemistry with Lou Williams off the bench. Having them both in the starting lineup Monday made that a natural transition for Morris.
“I just think that him and Lou have a great combination going right now, and he is just picking and choosing his spots and I think he is getting more and more comfortable,” Lue said. “And also getting in shape after being off to start the season, he is starting to get in game shape as well.”
It is a luxury for the Clippers to have a player of Morris, in addition to other guys like Williams and Ivica Zubac, coming off the bench when they could easily be starters on other teams. Instead, they’re all just playing their part on this increasingly deep Clipper roster, working towards one common goal.
More news for Tuesday:
- The NBA is going through with plans for a skills challenge and 3-point shootout the same day as the All-Star Game as well as a dunk contest during halftime.
- The league has also specified travel restrictions for players who will not be attending All-Star.
- Seerat Sohi examines the utility of the behind-the-back pass.
- Enforcing all of the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols has been a never-ending, exhausting task for league employees. This piece gets to the heart of it.
- Draymond Green spoke about the double standard with trade requests.
- Not basketball-related, but this story on Nia Dennis, the latest viral UCLA gymnastics star, is wonderful.
- 3-point accuracy has never been more important in determining NBA winners and losers. This season, 26 of 29 Clippers games have been decided by the team that hits more threes.