Markieff Morris had quietly played well over the past week, but his brief moment away from controversy didn’t last long.
According to The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro, Morris was taken out of the Suns’ 104-96 loss to the Denver Nuggets early in the fourth quarter and was witnessed throwing a towel at Hornacek, who reacted by tossing it aside.
Several witnesses say they saw Markieff Morris get upse during a break and throw a towel toward Hornacek, who tossed it too. #SunsVsNuggets
— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) December 24, 2015
Asked about the incident after the game Wednesday night, Hornacek said the team would consider disciplining Morris.
“He’s mad about not playing. I look at the stat sheet, he’s a minus-13 in 12 minutes. There, I took him out,” the coach said. “He thinks he’s better than that. Well, show me.”
Morris did not want to comment on the matter.
“That’s between me and Coach Hornacek,” Morris said. “We just need a win. It’s not about me and Jeff, it’s about the team. We need wins.”
The incident comes after Morris had re-entered the Suns’ rotation following a benching because of poor play. Though Morris had demanded a trade after brother Marcus was traded to the Pistons this offseason, he re-joined Phoenix for training camp and had, by all accounts, worked hard and acted as a good teammate.
The Suns’ loss Wednesday included a 22-point deficit in the first half and another poor defensive effort by the starting guards. Phoenix’s perimeter defense that allowed 31 points to guard Randy Foye shaped the game, like it did against the 11-18 Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday and the 12-14 Utah Jazz on Monday.
“Our guards are getting lit up,” Hornacek said after the game. “It’s as simple as that. Until they take some pride in stopping somebody, it’ll continue.”
Even worse was the fact that Denver was playing the second night of a back-to-back and without rotation players in Emmanual Mudiay, Jameer Nelson and Danilo Gallinari.
The Nuggets went at Phoenix with a small-ball lineup with forward Kenneth Faried playing center. Phoenix didn’t settle in until Hornacek countered by putting small forward P.J. Tucker on the aggressive rebounder.
“Put P.J. on him and look what happened? We got back in the game. We need more of those guys who play like that,” Hornacek said, before later adding, “We got to get tougher guys.
“We always say when we interview guys, ‘Do you like to win or hate to lose?’ We want guys who hate to lose,” the Suns coach added. “Tuck’s one of those guys.”