Marcus Morris’ new career-high point and rebounding totals were just what the doctor ordered for a struggling Phoenix Suns team.
Marcus Morris scored 24 points in the first half and 34 for the game, shattering his previous career high of 25, to help the Suns (29-23) end a three-game losing streak and beat the Utah Jazz 100-93 at US Airways Center on Friday.
Marcus nearly bested the career-high performance of his brother, Markieff, from last month. Markieff scored 35 points in a 107-100 home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 13.
Marcus went 11-of-17 from the field and 5-of-7 from 3-point range, and he added 12 rebounds in 33 minutes off the bench. It was his first double-double of the season.
The Suns built a 54-42 halftime lead behind Marcus Morris’ amazing first half, but the Jazz (17-33) wouldn’t go away. Utah cut the Suns’ lead to six late in the fourth quarter before a P.J. Tucker 3-pointer gave Phoenix a 97-88 advantage with just over a minute to play to put the game out of reach.
With the win, the Suns remained one game ahead of the New Orleans Hornets for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference. The Hornets defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Anthony Davis.
The Suns won despite the absence of Alex Len, who will likely be sidelined through the All-Star break with an ankle sprain he suffered in Thursday’s loss at the Portland Trail Blazers, according to coach Jeff Hornacek.
Here’s a closer look at how the Suns ended their skid and remained in sole possession of eighth place in the West, by the numbers:
In Len’s absence, the Suns still managed 10 offensive rebounds, while the Jazz pulled down just six offensive boards.
The Suns did well in limiting their turnovers Friday: They gave the ball away just 11 times while forcing 14 Utah turnovers. Phoenix committed 16 turnovers in Thursday’s 108-87 loss at Portland.
Marcus Morris wasn’t the only hot hand from beyond the arc for Phoenix. Eric Bledsoe went 3-for-3 and Tucker went 3-for-5 for distance from the Suns, who went 14-of-27 (51.9 percent) as a team from 3.
Filling in for Len, Miles Plumlee made his first start since December, and he responded with 26 quality minutes for Phoenix. Plumlee had six points on 3-of-7 shooting to go with four rebounds, two steals, a block and no turnovers.
The Suns avenged their most lopsided defeat of the season, a 27-point loss at Utah way back on Nov. 1. It was the Suns’ first defeat of their 2014-15 campaign after they opened the season 2-0.
Marcus Morris’ performance balanced out his brother’s off night. Markieff Morris scored 12 points but was just 6-of-18 (33.3 percent) from the field, including 0-of-2 from 3-point range.