Morris’ double-double leads Suns past Raptors

Big games aren’t out of the ordinary for Markieff Morris

anymore, and he had another one Friday night.

Morris made his first 11 shots en route to a 25-point

performance and the Phoenix Suns handed the Toronto Raptors their

fifth straight loss, 106-97.

”I’ve just got a great feel for the game right now,” he said.

”I’m not trying to shoot as many 3s as I have in the past. I’ve

just been working on driving to the basket and trying to get to the

line.”

Morris, who also grabbed 11 rebounds, finished 11 of 14 from the

field, tying his career high in field goals made. His scoring total

was three shy of his career best.

”That’s what he does,” teammate P.J. Tucker said. ”You get

his motor like that every game, I think he can do that every single

game, night in and night out.”

Entering this season, Morris’ career best was 23 points. Through

the first 20 games of this season, he’s scored at least 23 five

times, whether it be as a power forward or as the backup to center

Miles Plumlee.

”He is able to take a big guy and if a guy gets up on him, he

is able to drive by him,” Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. ”If

he steps off him, he is a good shooter from that 15- to 18-foot

range. He is being smart about when to drive it or when to shoot

it. Then today, he was rolling to the basket.”

Eric Bledsoe added 19 points, including 3 of 3 on 3-pointers,

and Tucker had 18 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for the

Suns.

Amir Johnson scored a season-best 22 points for the Raptors.

Kyle Lowry added 19 and Rudy Gay 17.

The Raptors lost Tyler Hansbrough with a sprained left shoulder

in the first quarter.

”He is going to get a look at his shoulder tomorrow (in Los

Angeles),” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said, ”but we missed his

toughness.”

The Suns outrebounded the Raptors 53-36, including 18-11 on the

offensive boards.

”That has to be our biggest advantage of the year,” Hornacek

said. ”Everybody went for them.”

Morris and Tucker each had six offensive rebounds.

”We did a decent job of getting stops,” Casey said, ”but then

didn’t get the rebounds. That’s about toughness, that’s about

attention to detail.”

Phoenix took control with a 16-6 run late in the third quarter.

Bledsoe made a 3-pointer, fed Morris for a layup, then made a free

throw when Lowry was called for a technical foul and Phoenix led

76-63 with 1:51 left in the period.

Morris’ final field goal, a 17-footer, put the Suns up 81-69

with 42.9 left in the quarter. Toronto scored the next five to cut

the lead to 81-74 entering the fourth.

”They got out and played at their tempo in the third quarter,”

Lowry said.

After the Suns scored the first five points of the final

quarter, Steve Novak’s 3-pointer cut it to 86-77 with 9:44

remaining, but Gerald Green made two 3s in an 11-6 surge to give

Phoenix its biggest lead of the night, 97-83 with 4:37 to go.

The Raptors scored the next eight to make it 97-91 on Johnson’s

layup with 2:42 left before Bledsoe’s 3 boosted the lead to 100-91

with 1:46 remaining.

Morris’ string of baskets ended when he lost control going up

for a layup and the shot went off the front of the rim.

Toronto led by seven points in the second quarter before a late

9-0 Phoenix run. Goran Dragic’s 3 put the Suns up 48-47 with 2:05

left in the half, then Morris’ 12-foot turnaround jumper from the

baseline made it 52-47. Phoenix led 52-50 at the break.

NOTES: The Raptors had beaten Phoenix three times in a row. …

Toronto had two days off during a road trip for the first time this

season. … The Raptors entered the game first in the NBA in

second-chance points at 17.7 per game but the Suns had 21

second-chance points to Toronto’s 16. … The Raptors led by 27 in

the third quarter Tuesday night at Golden State but lost, the

largest comeback by an opponent in Raptors’ history. … Toronto

completes a three-game road trip Sunday against the Lakers.