When Alvin Gentry shook up the Suns’ lineup before Wednesday’s game against Portland, he did so to create more balance on both his first and second units.
While the change has definitely shown up in the standings — as Phoenix has won two in a row — it has also done wonders for the confidence level of second-year forward Markieff Morris.
There were a lot of bright spots from the Suns 19-point comeback Friday night against the New Orleans Hornets. They showed once again they have the heart and patience to come back from a large deficit. P.J. Tucker proved that he can actually provide a spark at both ends of the court(career-high 15 points). Jermaine O’Neal continued his quest to turn back the clock. Luis Scola performed admirably in his new role coming off the bench.
But arguably the biggest positive heading into the Suns’ six-game road trip Sunday, has been the play of Morris.
Morris finished with a career-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting and looked at ease at the offensive end — whether in the post or on the perimeter — for much of the night.
“I mean it’s a little different, but coach put me in to be a starter,” Morris said of his new role. “You know I’ve been waiting to be a starter, and I need to produce and that is what I am doing.”
Friday’s performance marked the second straight game Morris made at least nine shot attempts. In his previous six games, the former No. 13 overall pick shot just 36 percent from the floor.
When asked after Friday’s win of why Morris looks so confident with his shot of late, Gentry admitted the spacing has been better with him on the floor at the power forward position.
“Obviously, with Markieff out there he gives us much more spacing,” Gentry said. “That opens up the floor not just for post ups, but it also opens up the floor more for him. When the ball is swung, he’s in a shooting rhythm of late. So when he’s gotten it, he’s shot the ball well like he did again tonight.”
Morris may have saved his best shot for last against New Orleans. Up just two with under a minute to play in overtime, the former Kansas star drained a three-point shot from the top of the key to keep the Suns ahead for good.
“It felt good,” said Morris. “I got hit for like seven or eight [from Ryan Anderson], so it was nice to get one late in the game like that.”