Lynam: Impending separation of the Morris twins

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Lynam: Impending separation of the Morris twins

Thursday, June 2, 2011
Posted: 10 a.m.
By Dei Lynam
CSNPhilly.com

The NBA draft in 2004 featured a home grown talent that was available when the Sixers selected with the ninth pick.

That talent was Jameer Nelson, who played his high school basketball at Chester High and then moved on to Saint Josephs University, where he had a marvelous career. It culminated with him leading the Hawks to an undefeated regular season and being named the Naismith College Player of the Year.

Now, Marcus and Markieff Morris are local kids who will hear their names called in the 2011 draft. Unlike Nelson, the Morris brothers left Philly when it came time to play college basketball and attended the University of Kansas.

There is a chance that Markieff will be on the board when the Sixers select at 16 in the first round of the draft, which takes place later this month. Why Markieff and not Marcus? Because Marcus is, by all accounts, going to be a lottery pick because of his more potent offensive skills.

Strange no, different yes, Marcus said of potentially playing basketball without his twin as his teammate come next fall. We dont expect to be drafted by the same team. We hope it happens but if it doesnt, it doesnt. We are looking forward to going our separate ways and maturing without each other which will actually make us grow as men.

Oh, but what if NBA commissioner David Stern steps to that podium on June 23 and says with the 16th pick the Philadelphia 76ers select...

That would probably be the best thing that ever happened, Marcus said, cutting off the sentence before the question could specify his name or Markieffs. Going and playing in your hometown, where you grew up with the people who watched you come up through the years and watched you play basketball through the years and representing, as well as having a Philadelphia jersey on, would definitely be special.

Markieef concurred with his twin brother. He often finds himself being agreeable because Marcus is the more outspoken of the two.

He is more aggressive, Markieff described his twin sibling. At times he can be mean. I am much more easy going and laid back.

Marcus averaged 17 points while shooting 57 percent his final year with Kansas. Markieff, on the other hand, is better known for his rebounding and shot blocking, as well as his three-point shooting, which he demonstrated playing both the power forward and center positions for the Jayhawks.

Markieff averaged 8.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks on 42 percent shooting from behind the arc as a junior. The combination of those numbers have some projecting Markieff, best case scenario, has Rasheed Wallace potential.

Wallace, who was a Simon Gratz graduate, finished his 15 year NBA career averaging 6.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, while being a 34 percent three point shooter.

After being selected fourth overall in 1995, Wallace became a four time All-Star.

Markieff Morris likely wont hear his name called until the middle of the first round and expects his role at the next level to be a garbage man. With the 16th pick, you are probably saying you want more then a garbage man -- you want a contributor.

Markieff believes he is ready to step in and do that, but he wants teams considering drafting him to know that he is willing to do whatever they ask.

Wearing a Sixers jersey or not, Markieef looks forward to circling the date on his calendar next season when his brother will be the opponent.

That will be a first for the both of us, Markieef said. It will be a great feeling just to see him or even guard him on the court.

Markieff did talk with the Sixers brass before leaving the Chicago pre-draft combine. The Sixers havent said they will select a big man, but this past season they certainly did not have a shortage of perimeter players, while rebounding and shot blocking were hardly their strengths.

The last time the Sixers used a first round selection on a native Philadelphian was 1966 when they selected Matt Guokas with the ninth overall pick. It was not unusual then, when the draft was 10 rounds deep, that the Sixers would pick local players, as they did in 1976 when the franchise selected current general manager Ed Stefanski in the 10th round with the 168th overall pick.
Brotherly Love
Brothers, roommates, teammates and soon to be co-homeowners. The Morris brothers arent going to let entering the workforce keep them from being together.

We are going to see each other for sure, Marcus said. We are going to buy a neutral house somewhere and make sure we meet up a lot.

Sharing an identical face could take its toll over two decades, but apparently not for the Morris brothers.

I enjoy it. That is my best friend. We like being twins, Marcus said. We dont want to look different, we want to look the same. Thats why we are twins. Thats why we have the same tattoos and the same type of haircut, like the same food -- it just happened that way.

Each twin has 14 tattoos, all exactly the same and none fall below their elbows in an effort to stay in Moms good graces. Of the 14 tattoos, Marcus says he probably selected 12 of them and Markieef had the honors of picking the other two.

It is not unusual, says Marcus, for one of the twins be more dominant or vocal -- he is that guy in this twosome. Furthermore, Marcus, more so then Markieef, enjoys sharing stories of being look a likes.

We switched classes when we were younger, Marcus explained. 'Kieef was better at math and I was better at reading so we switched. I did his reading test and he did my math test.

It was a simple middle school prank, no harm no foul.

Ironically despite Marcus dominant personality, Markieef made arguably the biggest decision to date for the duo.

He made the decision what college we went to, Marcus recalled. There are a couple big decisions he made, but I make majority.

So far so good for the 21-year-olds who, in less then a month, hope to transfer their basketball successes to the pro hardwood.
E-mail Dei Lynam at dlynam@comcastsportsnet.com

Related: Lynam: Risk on Faried could pay off big for Sixers Plenty of roster decisions ahead for Sixers

Best of NBA: Kawhi Leonard scores 41, Spurs down Cavaliers in OT

Best of NBA: Kawhi Leonard scores 41, Spurs down Cavaliers in OT

CLEVELAND -- Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 41 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-115 in overtime on Saturday night despite missing starters Tony Parker and Pau Gasol.

Leonard scored six in OT, including a game-sealing dunk with 4.9 seconds left, as the Spurs regrouped after a late collapse in regulation.

David Lee, making a rare start in place of the injured Gasol, added 14 points as San Antonio improved to 18-4 on the road.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving scored 29 apiece for the Cavs, who had the last shot in regulation and had plenty of opportunities in the extra five minutes. Cleveland still had a chance to tie it in the final second of overtime, but Kevin Love missed a 3-pointer (see full recap).

Lillard, McCollum carry Portland to OT win over Boston
BOSTON -- Damian Lillard had a three-point play with 47 seconds left in overtime and finished with 28 points to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to a 127-123 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night, snapping their four-game losing streak.

CJ McCollum scored 35 points to lead Portland, which lost in the closing seconds in Philadelphia on Friday night. Lillard added seven assists.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 41 points, his 14th time this season with 30 or more points. Marcus Smart and Al Horford each scored 17 for the Celtics, who have lost two straight after winning 13 of 16.

Thomas nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:24 to play in OT, pushing Boston ahead by one, but Al-Farouq Aminu was fouled on the next possession and hit both free throws to move Portland back in front.

Lillard then drove the lane, was fouled and hit the free throw. Mason Plumlee had a short jumper in the lane and a free throw in the closing 24 seconds (see full recap).

Booker scores 26 as Suns edge Knicks 107-105
NEW YORK -- Devin Booker scored 26 points and made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 31 seconds left, and the Phoenix Suns beat the New York Knicks 107-105 on Saturday night.

Carmelo Anthony's attempt at a winning 3-pointer rimmed out as Phoenix snapped a two-game losing streak and handed New York its second loss in a row.

Eric Bledsoe added 23 points for the Suns, while P.J. Tucker and Marquese Chriss each had 15.

Anthony led the Knicks with 31 points, Derrick Rose had 26 and Kristaps Porzingis scored 14 (see full recap).

Dekker scores career-best 30 leading Rockets past Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Sam Dekker scored a career-high 30 points, James Harden added 29 points and 10 assists and the Houston Rockets leaned on their usual 3-point offense to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 119-95 on Saturday night.

Eric Gordon added 21 points as the Rockets built the lead to as many as 20 in the fourth quarter before easily coasting home.

Dekker, making his first career start in place of the ill Ryan Anderson, made 12 of 19 shots, including 6 of 11 from outside the arc. Houston shot 51 percent overall and 38 percent from distance.

Marc Gasol scored 32 points and Mike Conley added 15 for the Grizzlies, who lost for the third time in the last four.

Memphis struggled shooting the entire night, finishing at 37 percent and unsuccessfully tried to follow the Rockets' long-range attack but converted only 9 of 34 from outside the arc (see full recap).

Tired Sixers doomed by mistakes in second of back-to-back games

Tired Sixers doomed by mistakes in second of back-to-back games

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — It would be easy to suggest that the Sixers were weary.

Especially after they surrendered 37 points in the second quarter, but that wasn’t the only reason they lost, 110-93, to the Hawks on Saturday night (see Instant Replay).

Without Joel Embiid, the Sixers fell for just the third time in 11 games.

They were cooked by their mistakes in Philips Arena, where 21 turnovers led to 17 Atlanta points, and burned by the Hawks’ experience, muscle and bench.

After an even first quarter that ended 25-25, the Hawks did just about whatever they wanted over the next 12 minutes. 

Making 16 of 23 shots in the period, they scored every which way. Quite a few times, an Atlanta player slipped backdoor to the basket, and the Sixers missed several switches. That might be partly attributable to heavy legs, as they beat the Trail Blazers, 93-92, one night earlier, but the Hawks out-schemed the Sixers, too.

“They’re good. They’re veterans,” head coach Brett Brown said. “They’ve been playing together for a while . . . they really are difficult at home.”

That’s true. The Hawks (26-18) have won 11 of 13, and are just a half game behind the Celtics for the No. 3 spot in the East.

Atlanta’s also got a huge edge in experience over the Sixers.

Paul Millsap scored 22 points and the veteran forward added 10 rebounds. Center Dwight Howard complemented him with 13 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks outrebounded the Sixers, 48-38.

Robert Covington battled on the boards, grabbing 10 rebounds to go with 15 points, but the Sixers’ next two leading rebounders were guards Nik Stauskas and T.J. McConnell with six each. 

Atlanta made just 7 of 20 three-pointers while the Sixers were 12 of 29 from distance. The Hawks, though, outscored the Sixers 42-30 in the paint, many buckets coming on back cuts the Sixers didn’t see coming or couldn’t keep up with.

“I think you could tell the fatigue set in on us, and I just think we failed to get stops,” said point guard T.J. McConnell, who had eight points and a game-high 11 assists. “Really, that’s what it comes down to . . . in a back-to-back sometimes your legs just aren’t there. You could tell, a lot of our shots, they just didn’t fall.”

Other than that second quarter, the Hawks were moderately successful offensively. They averaged 24.3 points in the other three, shooting 42.6 percent in those periods.

Without their usual sharp-shooting from beyond the arc, the Hawks scored at the rim, and converted their 11 rebounds.

They outscored the Sixers 42-30 in the paint, and Atlanta had a massive 14-0 edge in second-chance points. Howard had a lot to do with both problems.

“They do a good job of limiting post touches,” Brown said of the Hawks.   

The Sixers were trying. 

They trailed by 18 late in the third quarter, yet whittled away and pulled within 94-87 when rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot made a pair of free throws with 6:46 left in the game.
 
But their bench got slaughtered, and mistakes mounted. 

Atlanta’s reserves outscored the Sixers' 36-30, outrebounded them 15-9, and worst of all, the Sixers’ subs turned the ball over 10 times – Luwawu-Cabarrot had five – to five for the Hawks.

“I think there was an energy that wasn’t with us tonight,” Brown said. “I think that second group struggled.”

After they cut the deficit to seven, the Sixers missed seven of their next eight and the Hawks practically raced to the finish line as their opponents slowed once and for all.

“Every time we made a run, they just came back and made a run as well,” Covington said. “We did what we could to stop it, but Atlanta’s a good team.”