Pistons' Morris shakes shooting slump
Auburn Hills — Shooters shoot and scorers score.
Even when they’re missing.
Pistons forward Marcus Morris has tried to remind himself that his shooting slumps come and go and that he just needed to keep putting up the shots, and eventually, they would start falling again.
It felt like an uphill climb. After going 3-of-15 from the field in the loss to Utah Jazz on Wednesday, Morris went 1-of-13 against the Toronto Raptors on Friday. It’s the worst shooting stretch he’s had since a three-game stretch in late December, when he went 4-of-28 over three games.
He bounced back in Sunday’s win over the Phoenix Suns, going 6-of-9 for 16 points.
“I just watched a lot of film and thought I was moving too fast,” Morris said. “I’m not a fast player, so I wanted to move the ball around a little, get into the flow and take easy shots.”
That included his first basket, a drive on which he tried to probe and find the best available shot, to get off to a good start.
“I just spotted an opening and played off the opportunity and filled,” he said. “(I took) whatever the defense gives me. I felt the last couple games I was rushing and trying to score too bad.”
But coach Stan Van Gundy isn’t losing any confidence in Morris.
“I just told him I’m behind him all the way. I trust him as a competitor and he’s a guy who brings it every night,” Van Gundy said before the game. “He’s had some really difficult defensive matchups that have probably taken a lot out of him. He went LeBron (James), Carmelo (Anthony), LeBron, Gordon Hayward and DeMar DeRozan. Let's go out every night and play an All-Star.
“It’s going to take a toll and he’s competed hard in those matchups. There’s going to be some consequences to that too.”
After Friday’s loss, Morris sat at his locker not wanting to talk to the media or his teammates. It’s the competitive fire that burns inside of him that makes him want to excel and also pull up his teammates when they’re not performing up to their standards.
He notably called out his teammates in a huddle last week when he challenged them to play well in the win over the Cavaliers or go back to the locker room. And those words may have been in his head after he had another lackluster shooting performance.
And he’s harder on himself when the shots aren’t falling. But for Van Gundy, the impetus is on playing a good all-around game, rather than just focusing on the offensive end.
“You certainly want guys who care and I like guys who hold themselves accountable. It’s an unfortunate thing in this league that what guys are most concerned about is their shooting,” Van Gundy said. “They’ll let themselves off the hook on things they can reasonably be expected to do every night: run hard cuts, get open, pass the ball, defend and get back on defense and block out.
“They’ll be really down on themselves if they miss some shots — that’s the part that bothers me a little bit.”
Along with Morris shooting woes, the Pistons are having to deal with extreme fatigue in point guard Reggie Jackson, who has played limited minutes in the second halves of the last two games. He played just three minutes in the third quarter against the Jazz and Van Gundy is concerned about what the cause is.
“He hasn’t played big minutes — that’s the mind-boggling thing,” Van Gundy said. “Two games ago, we played him a little more in the first half but overall, he hasn’t played big minutes. That’s the confusing part of the fatigue in the second half.”
Van Gundy said that tests haven’t revealed anything and the training staff hasn’t found anything unusual in examining Jackson. The plan is to have Jackson split time with Ish Smith at point guard in the first three quarters, then make a decision about who finishes the fourth quarter.
“You’re going into the fourth with 18 minutes under your best, so you should be good,” he said. “He really hadn’t had the problem up until the last two games; he actually had been finishing strong, so I really don’t know.”
Jackson played 25 minutes Sunday and had 14 points and four assists.