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Suns’ Markieff Morris set to return to lineup

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) shoots a foul shot an NBA basketball game between the Phoenix Suns and the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Oklahoma City won 124-103. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Phoenix Suns starting power forward Markieff Morris found himself in an unusual position during the past two games — watching from the bench with a left knee sprain suffered versus the Clippers last Thursday.

Morris had the sixth-longest games played streak in the NBA at 171 when he sat out Saturday’s win against the Nuggets. In the past three seasons, Morris has played 82, 81 and 82 games.

“It was tough,” said Morris on having to sit out after practice on Tuesday. “It was a hard decision to make, but I need to be healthy for the rest of the season and not worry about a streak.”

While not yet official, Morris is expected to return on Wednesday when the Suns square off with the Bulls at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

“It improved a lot from when it first happened,” said Morris. “It was just more a shock to me than I think just being sore. I’m not used to playing with injuries, I rarely (knocks on wood) get injured.”

While some correlation might be made to the Suns winning the three games with Morris barely playing, the facts don’t back that up. In 41 minutes, the Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, P.J. Tucker, Jon Leuer and Tyson Chandler group only outscored opponents by one point and had a net rating of +3.8 (per 100 possessions).

Replacing Leuer with Morris gives the five-man unit a net rating of +15 and they outscored opponents by 41 points in 127 minutes.

From an individual perspective, Morris hasn’t been able to find a rhythm with his shot. Over the past two seasons, he’s knocked 47.5 percent of his attempts, but has only been able connect on 36.8 percent in eight games this year.

He did make two of his first three shots before leaving the Clippers game, only the second time he’s accomplished that early in the year.

Head coach Jeff Hornacek said Morris would be returning to the starting lineup.

In other injury news, reserve point guard Ronnie Price was back at practice Tuesday. Price is recovering from a concussion suffered last Thursday against the Clippers and is expected to be available on Wednesday.


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