The Los Angeles Lakers were finally able to welcome Markieff Morris back to the court during their 123-116 scrimmage win over Washington Wizards.
Morris was the last member of the roster to arrive in the bubble at Walt Disney World. He was said to have been an excused absence, and the Lakers nor Morris have provided specifics. Morris only offered that he was dealing with a family matter.
Although Morris was available for the victory over the Orlando Magic, head coach Frank Vogel was adamant about easing him into the rotation.
Vogel opted to give heavy minutes to the role players after having LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma and Dwight Howard sit out against Washington. Despite only playing a portion of the first quarter, Morris managed to make his presence felt with six points and five rebounds in six minutes.
“I’m happy to be back,” he said after the game. “I missed a little bit of time because some family issues, but I’m just happy to get back with the guys and get back playing.”
Vogel has emphasized wanting the Lakers to be the most physical team in the NBA, which he believes Morris is key to. “I’m just here to win,” Morris said.
“Whatever is needed of me, I want to give to the team. Coach always talked about me being tough, but I’m a little more than just tough. Whatever is required of me.”
While his brother Marcus got an earlier start with the L.A. Clippers, Markieff feels the patient approach is paying some dividends.
“It wasn’t frustrating. He’s a little bit more agile than me. His muscles and body are a little bit looser than mine, so he was able to do that,” Markieff said.
“I was able to get in the gym about three or four times before I had to step on the court. I think that helped. These two days before the next game are going to be big for me. My brother is a little different than I am.”
Despite their differences, the twins continued to remain in close contact during the pandemic thanks to their proximity from each other.
“At least three and a half months (they spent together during quarantine). He lives right around the corner from my house, so it was easy,” Markieff explained.
He is certainly still shaking off some of the rust after shooting just 2-for-7 from the field against the Wizards. Regardless, it did give him some time to find his footing before the Lakers square off against the Clippers in the first seeding game.
Vogel on patient approach
The Clippers wasted no time playing Marcus 19 minutes during his debut in the bubble. While Morris seems to understand full well the difference between them, this did not stop him from voicing his desire to play to Vogel.
Though they may be twins, the coaching staff will stick with a patient approach when it comes to his minutes.
“He’s ready to go. He wants to play, but it’s going to take some time,” Vogel said before the scrimmage versus the Magic. “We’re just being intelligent. Each team makes their own decisions with their own player.”
Vogel indicated that Morris’ conditioning will be a determining factor in how much playing time he receives moving forward.
“Each player has a different set of circumstances, even with Markieff and his brother. It’s a case-by-case thing,” Vogel said. “He was willing to get in there for a few minutes to get his feet wet.”
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