Markieff Morris bounced back in an impressive style after temporarily falling out of the Los Angeles Lakers’ rotation earlier in the 2020-21 season.
Head coach Frank Vogel decided to limit the number of lineups he used after suffering the first two away losses, to the Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons, in late January. Veterans Morris and Wesley Matthews passed their share of rotation minutes to younger players like Talen Horton-Tucker with the former sitting out the following four games.
Morris acknowledged disappointment over his shrinking role but dealt with the situation in a professional manner, earning high praise from Vogel. Since then, L.A. has been hit by a wave of injuries that not only rushed him back to the rotation but made him a starter.
As his fortunes turned around, the forward has been averaging 9.5 points and 5.9 rebounds, shooting 40.8% from downtown in 11 starts for the Lakers in March. And Vogel again couldn’t find enough words to emphasize Morris’ value to the team after Friday night’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I want to go back to before LeBron [James] got hurt where we moved him into the starting lineup and helped us with the four-game win streak coming out of the break,” Vogel said.
“He’s really stabilized things. He’s someone that everybody on the floor trusts. The coaching staff trusts that he’s going to make solid plays, he’s going to defend his own position and he’s going to knock down threes. Not going to force things. He’s a stabilizing force for our group. He’s really someone that I’m not sure where we’d be down this stretch without his contributions.”
In the win over the Cavaliers, Morris finished with 13 points and five rebounds and was a game-high plus-17. He knocked down three of his seven attempts from 3-point range, which represented half of the Lakers’ makes from distance with the team finishing 6-for-26.
Anthony Davis could return in two and a half weeks
Although Morris is reveling in his upgraded role, he and other Lakers are eagerly awaiting Anthony Davis’ return knowing the All-Star’s production is key to a successful title defense.
The 28-year-old forward could reportedly return from his calf injury in about two and a half weeks as he begins to ramp up his work on the court.
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