Near-perfect Morris scores 25 as Suns scorch Raptors
PHOENIX (AP) — 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 the Suns three times in a row. … Toronto 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 the Raptors’ 16.