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Hornacek: Markieff Morris not dogging it, wants to be a part of the team

Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah (13), battles Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11), for a loose ball during the first half of a basketball game Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

LISTEN: Jeff Hornacek, Suns head coach

Markieff Morris accomplished something Monday night in the Phoenix Suns’ 103-101 road win over the Chicago Bulls that he didn’t in the previous game.

He got on the court.

Granted, the fifth-year forward played only seven minutes in Chicago. But it’s still better than earning his first ‘DNP-CD’ since his rookie season, as he did Sunday in Memphis in a loss to the Grizzlies.

Morris has had an up-and-down season (mostly down). His scoring, rebounding and shooting are all down substantially from his career-best marks set last year. His motivation has been speculated on as well. Some believe the once-disgruntled Morris is still sore at the organization for trading his twin brother Marcus to the Detroit Pistons over the summer.

His head coach, Jeff Hornacek, doesn’t see it that way.

“I don’t think he’s dogging at all. He’s been great in practices,” Hornacek said Tuesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Doug and Wolf.  “He’s trying hard, he’s good with the guys, but you can see that maybe he misses his brother. He’s probably a little depressed there. You can’t play 100 percent when you’re feeling like that.”

In 18 games this season, Morris is averaging 11.4 points, while grabbing 5.2 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 38 percent from the field and 27 percent from behind the three-point line while starting 16 games.

Morris missed last Wednesday’s game in Detroit with a knee bruise, but returned in Friday’s loss at Washington, scoring 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting in 27 minutes off the bench. He did pick up a costly technical foul late in the game, which the Wizards won, 109-106.

That was followed by 48 minutes in sweats Sunday against Memphis.

Hornacek said benching Morris was not meant to send a message, rather the decision was based on matchups to spread guys out and create three-point shooting opportunities.

“Markieff is still a part of it. I just told him to be ready,” Hornacek said. “He really wants our team to win. He’s been playing hard, we can’t fault him for that. He just been struggling with his shot a little bit.

“He likes his teammates, he likes his coaches, he wants us to win. In the last two games you can see him over there cheering for the guys, he’s talking to them. He’s giving Jon (Leuer) a hint on how they are guarding somebody, he’s still being a part of the team.”

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