Morris Returns to Valley & Helps Beat Former TeamPosted: Updated:
Markieff Morris overcame a rude welcome in his Phoenix return by scoring 21 points and helping the Washington Wizards beat the Suns 106-99 Friday night in a much-needed victory for their playoff hopes.
John Wall added 22 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists, and Brandon Beal scored 21 points for the Wizards, who moved within 2 1/2 games of idle Indiana for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Morris, whose tumultuous 4 1/2-year Phoenix stint ended when he was dealt to the Wizards on Feb. 18, was booed in introductions and every time he touched the ball. But he shot 8 of 14 and grabbed nine rebounds as the Wizards rallied to snap a two-game losing streak.
Mirza Teletovic had 24 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for the Suns, who got 14 points on 6-of-22 shooting by rookie Devin Booker in their fifth straight loss.
Hours after telling reporters he had "no trust" with the Suns, Morris was the focus of the night. But the Wizards needed a strong fourth quarter to avoid another damaging loss to a lottery-bound team.
Two nights after a disheartening defeat in Sacramento in which guard Bradley Beal said his team "gave up," the Wizards trailed by eight points in the third quarter and 79-77 entering the fourth.
But the Wizards dominated the final period as the Suns started throwing the ball away without injured point guard Brandon Knight. Two consecutive hoops by Ramon Sessions put the Wizards up 96-87 with 5 minutes left and secured a happy return for Morris.
Things turned sour for the forward last summer when he demanded a trade after the Suns dealt his twin Marcus to Detroit.
But there have been numerous other incidents that drew the fans' ire. He and his brother were arrested last year on felony assault charges. He criticized the fans for lack of support following a 27-point home loss last season.
Morris was suspended after he threw a towel at then-coach Jeff Hornacek during a December loss to Denver. He then had a bench altercation with teammate Archie Goodwin shortly before the Feb. 18 trade to the Wizards.
"It's just tough to do certain things with no trust and play for people you really don't trust," Morris said at shootaround, declining to elaborate.
Washington was three games out of a playoff berth when they acquired Morris, and entered the night in the same position. The Suns are rooting for the Wizards' demise, as they acquired their first-round draft pick in exchange for Morris and will get it this year if it's outside the top nine.
But despite Phoenix's 56-44 rebounding edge, they couldn't hold on as Washington won for the second time in six games.
P.J. Tucker had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Tyson Chandler added 11 points and 15 boards for Phoenix.
Wizards: Another former Sun, C Marcin Gortat, was cheered when he was introduced. ... Coach Randy Wittman disagreed with Beal's assessment of their recent struggles. "It's not a lack of effort, it's lack of being on the same page," Wittman said, citing missed defensive assignments. ... F Alan Anderson (ankle) didn't dress.
Suns: Knight's sports hernia issue has flared up again. Coach Earl Watson said it's possible they'll shut him down for the rest of the season. ... Ronnie Price started in Knight's place and was 1 of 8 from the field.
Wizards: At the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Suns: Home vs. Utah on Sunday.