PHOENIX (AP) — Playing alongside that guy who looks just like him is making it easy for Marcus Morris to fit in with the Phoenix Suns in a hurry.
He matched his career high with four 3-pointers, in five attempts, and scored 16 points in his fifth game with Phoenix, helping the Suns win their third in a row with a 92-87 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
Identical twin brother Markieff Morris added 11 points as Phoenix snapped Atlanta’s four-game winning streak. Wesley Johnson scored 13 of his 15 points in the third quarter for the Suns.
Marcus Morris, who came to Phoenix in a trade-deadline deal with Houston, played the entire fourth quarter, an example of how important to the team he has already become.
“It’s self-explanatory. Y’all know,” he said afterward. “Playing with my brother, man, it brings the best out of both of us. The toughness, I just feel comfortable with him on the court. As you can tell, I know none of the plays and he’s telling me the plays while it’s happening. Just the connection, it’s there for me.”
The win came two nights after the Suns stunned the Spurs in San Antonio.
Phoenix interim coach Lindsey Hunter said that Marcus Morris still has a lot to learn about the Suns’ system, “but they were outstanding.”
“They played really well, played really hard,” Hunter said. “I thought defensively they were good.”
Goran Dragic had 19 points for Phoenix before leaving with a lower back bruise with 4:44 left in the third quarter. The Suns don’t play for four days and Dragic said he thought he’d be fine by then.
Al Horford scored 20 and Kyle Korver 17 for Atlanta on the fourth stop of a six-game road trip. Josh Smith managed just five points on 2-of-11 shooting and committed five turnovers but had 10 rebounds.
“It’s a tough game to swallow,” Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. “After playing so well in our first three games of this road trip, as good as the first three were, we were just as bad tonight. We did not play well from start to finish.”
Jared Dudley got into a heated argument with Suns teammate Luis Scola entering a timeout in the third quarter, then snapped at Hunter in the huddle and had to be calmed down by assistant coaches. Dudley was benched and did not return.
Phoenix took the lead for good with a 14-1 run at the end of the first half and start of the second.
The Suns scored the last eight points of the first half, the final six on a pair of 3-pointers from the corner by Marcus Morris, to lead 44-39 at halftime.
Dragic scored 10 in the first quarter and 14 in the half.
Phoenix maintained the lead throughout the third quarter and was up 63-54 after Johnson’s 22-footer with 4:12 left. A 7-2 Hawks spurt cut it to 65-61 on Korver’s free throw after Markieff Morris was called for a technical. But the Suns scored the final seven of the quarter to lead 72-61 entering the fourth.
Johnson, who shot 5 for 5 in the third quarter, sank a 3 during the run. But the highlight came after an Atlanta turnover when Marcus Morris soared in for a dunk but was knocked hard to the floor by Jeff Teague, who was called for a flagrant foul. Marcus Morris made both free throws with 35.7 seconds to go in the period to make it an 11-point lead after three.
Anthony Tolliver sank a pair of 3s, then John Jenkins made one of two free throws to cut the Suns’ lead to 74-68 with 10:24 left. But the Morris twins, first Marcus, then Markieff, scored and Phoenix led 78-68 with 7:57 left.
Atlanta scored the next five points, slicing the lead to 78-73 on Korver’s 3-pointer with 7:25 to go. But Jermaine O’Neal scored on a drive and Marcus Morris sank a 3 to boost the lead back to 83-73 with 6:43 to go.
The closest it got after that was the final margin, when Horford sank a 3 at the buzzer.
“We just didn’t focus for whatever reason,” Korver said. “We wanted things kind of easy. When you do that in the NBA you are going to get beat. Hopefully we learned something tonight.”
NOTES: Atlanta, which had won five straight road games, plays the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday. … Phoenix pulled out of a tie for last in the Western Conference. … Hawks F DeShawn Stevenson dislocated the middle finger on his left hand in the first minute of the game. But he went to the locker room for X-rays and was back in the game 3 minutes into the second quarter. … Suns Ring of Honor member and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, fighting to keep the Kings in his city, was in the crowd and got a big ovation when introduced on the big screen.