In Phoenix, Philadelphia connections aplenty

In Phoenix, Philadelphia connections aplenty

Lynam goes 1-on-1 with Dionte Christmas

December 29, 2013, 9:00 am
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Markieff Morris, right, and Marcus Morris, left, have played with each other in high school, college and now the NBA. (USA Today Images)

PHOENIX -- When looking at the Suns’ roster, the Philadelphia connections are aplenty.

Phoenix head coach Jeff Hornacek played a season and a half for the Sixers, while Philly natives Marcus and Markieff Morris are playing together with the Suns.

The Morris brothers are now in their third season.

“The Morris brothers playing together off the bench has been key,” Hornacek said. “They seem to really enjoy being out there at the same time.

“They pass the ball to each other, but on top of that I feel very comfortable going to both guys in post up situations. When our starters are out of the game, these guys give our bench a big lift.”

The Suns have the fifth highest scoring bench in the NBA, and the Morris twins play a big role in that. Combined, the twins average 23.4 points and 10.6 rebounds.

After a year and a half hiatus in their professional careers -- Marcus was drafted by the Rockets then traded to Phoenix last season -- the Morris twins are back together again. They’ve played high school basketball together and their college ball together.

“Every year those guys have gotten better, including this year,” teammate Dionte Christmas said. “Both are having career years this year.

"The way those guys play with each other is amazing. The way they find each other, sometimes you think a play is not going to happen and they make something happen just between the two of them.”

Christmas himself is another connection, as the 27-year-old rookie played his college ball on North Broad Street with the Temple Owls.

Unlike the Morris twins, Christmas’ playing time is limited, but his character and work ethic is greatly valued.

“We got Dionte in the summertime, I knew he was a competitor,” Hornacek said. “H played for us in the Las Vegas Summer League and he didn’t get a chance to go over any of our plays and just showed up that morning and jumped right in and did a great job for us.

Christmas has appeared in just 16 of the Suns’ 29 games, and has averaged only seven minutes. After a five-year journey to the NBA, Christmas is pleased about finally landing an NBA roster spot.

“It feels great,” Christmas said. It has been a long time coming, but I have been working hard over the years. But this year, everything is coming together for me.

“I was blessed to play for the Suns in the summer league. I played hard and the coaches and the GM’s saw that. I thank God for putting me in this position and all things just worked out for me this year.”