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Morris brothers lead Suns past Kings

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — When the Phoenix Suns are at their best, it’s difficult to decipher one standout from the rest. That applied even more so Saturday, when two players nearly impossible to tell apart helped the Suns run their winning streak to five straight games.

Identical twin brothers Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris combined for 37 points, and didn’t miss a 3-points shot between them until the fourth quarter, and the Suns (17-14) beat the Sacramento Kings 115-106 at Sleep Train Arena. Marcus Morris finished with 20 and Markieff Morris had 17.

“That’s how we want to play,” Suns guard Isaiah Thomas said after Phoenix used a relentless display of penetration, kick-outs and ball movement to blitz his former team with a 14-2 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters. “We have a lot of guys that can make plays. When we play like that, then other teams have to adjust to us.”

Thomas scored eight of his 17 points in the final quarter, and Phoenix scored the first eight points of the period to build a 114-102 lead. The Kings didn’t get within single digits again until the game’s final 39 seconds.

Thomas, the NBA’s third-leading fourth-quarter scorer (6.6 per contest) behind Miami’s Dwyane Wade and the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, also finished with five assists.

But it was the Morris forward combination that really sunk the Kings. Marcus Morris made seven of 12 shots, including six of seven from beyond the arc, while adding nine rebounds and five assists in 28 minutes of the bench. Markieff Morris canned 8 of 11 shots while playing 30 minutes.

“I just tried to stay with it and be aggressive,” Marcus Morris said. “We were able to get them on their heels and my teammates did a great job of finding me.”

Guard Darren Collison finished with 19 points to lead Sacramento, but the Kings (12-17) lost for the seventh time in eight games to fall five games below .500 for the first time this season. Sacramento has played nine of its past 10 at home but is only 3-6 in those contests.

Sacramento also fell to 2-9 this season without starting center DeMarcus Cousins, who missed the game with the stomach flu. Cousins missed 11 of the Kings’ past 14 contests.

Backup point guard Ramon Sessions (strained lower back muscle), and backup center Ryan Hollins (dad’s funeral) also were missing. Without them, the Kings received 11 points and 16 rebounds from starting center Reggie Evans, and 16 points from forward Derrick Williams. But point guard Ray McCallum finished with just four points and five assists in 26 minutes.

Forward Rudy Gay added 16 points for Sacramento, forward Carl Landry added 12 points and eight rebounds, and forward Omri Casspi added 11 points.

It wasn’t enough to prevent Sacramento from falling to 1-4 under interim head coach Tyrone Corbin.

“Defensive lapses in the fourth quarter. Slow starts to the second half,” Gay said of the Kings’ recent losing ways. “It’s been a bunch of things.”

Guard Eric Bledsoe added 18 on 7-for-11, and guard Goran Dagic added 16 points and six assists for Phoenix, which made 14 of 21 shots in the third quarter and scored 25 fastbreak points to become the fourth straight team to top 110 points against the Kings.

“We’re giving up too many points,” Corbin said. “We’re giving up points, and (having) fastbreak issues. … We’ve got to do a better job on the defensive end.”

Phoenix built three separate double-digit leads, and the Kings were able to overcome them the first two times. But Marcus Morris and Thomas hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to end the third quarter, and Phoenix scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter.

“We had 25 assists tonight, and that’s good for us,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We create that many shots, and we have guys who can knock them down.”

NOTES: Kings C DeMarcus Cousins (flu) has missed 11 games, tying the career high he set last year. Cousins, now in his fifth season, missed only 10 games in his first three seasons combined. He played in only three of Sacramento’s past 14 games, averaging 26 points, 11 rebounds and 4.3 assists. … The Suns’ winning streak marks their longest since a six-game run in March. … Kings G Ramon Sessions (lower back strain) has missed two of the past three games and played only six minutes in a loss at Golden State in the only one he played. … Phoenix C Alex Len was averaging 9.0 points and 6.6 rebounds in five games since joining the Suns’ starting lineup. Len was averaging 5.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 25 games off the bench and 3.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in 67 career games before then. … Sacramento played the first of back-to-back home games, one of three such sets this season. The Kings split the first back-to-back home set. They’ll play one more home back-to-back on Jan. 16-17 against the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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