Not much has gone right for the Los Angeles Lakers during the past few weeks without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but the production Markieff Morris has bestowed has earned significant praise from head coach Frank Vogel.
Since James joined Davis on the injury report, the Lakers have posted a 4-5 record. Some wins weren’t pretty, some losses weren’t pretty, but Morris has yielded solid performances on both ends of the floor in this stretch of games.
In the last nine contests, Morris is averaging 11.2 points (fourth-highest on the team), 6.9 rebounds (third-highest) and 1.2 assists while shooting 45.5% from the field (fifth-highest) and 37% from 3-point territory (fourth-highest).
Morris recently climaxed against the Toronto Raptors where he dropped all 15 of his points in the first half, including three 3-pointers, to add to his nine rebounds. Vogel explained how the 31-year-old stretch big is doing it on both ends of the court.
“He’s been like the unsung hero of this stretch,” Vogel said. “I don’t think anybody is talking about Kieff’s contributions enough and it’s not just on the offensive side of the ball like he scored the ball tonight. He’s having to guard seemingly elite sort of three, four each night and is doing a great job with that while carrying some of the load offensively as well.”
Vogel proceeded to laud Morris’ performance against the Raptors, saying he embodies traits the Lakers want to see against resilient competition.
“He got red-hot in the first half from beyond the arc and in the post, midrange. He was doing it in a bunch of ways. His toughness exemplifies who we want to be in terms of being a team that plays more physical than our opponent. He was terrific tonight.”
Morris didn’t feature as a prominent member of Vogel’s rotation earlier in the season, as minutes chiefly opened up for him in the wake of injuries and players missing games because of health and safety protocols.
But as the big man has demonstrated, he still has juice left in the tank and can play various positions across the frontcourt, which furnishes Vogel with different lineup possibilities once James and Davis make their anticipated returns.
Morris playing admirable basketball since All-Star break
Morris’ outings in recent weeks expand out to games just after the All-Star break as well. He’s played admirable basketball as a two-way 3-and-D big man.
He’s knocking down 3-pointers at an excellent clip for players in his position, he’s rebounding at high rates both defensively and on missed free throws on offense and has even evolved into a player the Lakers trust on isolation and empty set plays.
Morris has been consistent, sharp and stout with his performances — that’s exactly what the Lakers need as they hope to get healthy for the playoffs.
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