Through the first two games of the series against the Mavericks, Clippers forward Marcus Morris was almost nonexistent. Or, worse than nonexistent—he was a minus-35 in the two games, meaning the Clippers were a lot worse when he was on the floor than when he was off. Morris was 5-for-17 (29. 4%) shooting in the two games, and 2-for-11 (18.2%) from the 3-point line.
But in Game 3, on the road in Dallas, Morris had an awakening. He shot 6-for-9 from the field, and 3-for-5 from the 3-point line. He scored 15 points, two better than the 13 he’d scored in his first two games combined. The impressive line included three 3-pointers from the left corner in the fourth quarter, part of a 15-6 Clippers run that put the game away down the stretch.
The Mavericks lead the series, 2-1.
All during that key period, Morris had some inspiration from a source both unlikely and likely. It came from a Laker, the Clippers’ biggest rival, but that Lakers is Markieff Morris, Marcus’ twin brother and biggest NBA supporter.
“It means a lot,” Marcus said. “I talked to my brother at halftime and he’s like, don’t even think about it, let it fly, you’re the best shooter in the world. You know, it’s just words of encouragement, form somebody can watch the game and seeing what’s going on and being able to help you out, man, I thank him. We’ve been doing that since Day One since we set foot in the NBA. I always look to him for encouragement and to see what he sees on the court and it just helps me.”
Both Markieff and Marcus Morris Came to L.A. During the 2020 Season
Back in the winter of 2020, just before the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lakers made what wound up being a solid signing for the team’s depth, nabbing Markieff Morris off the waiver wire from the Pistons. Morris is not a frontline starter, but he was a key role player, especially when the Lakers went with small lineups last year.
Just before that, the Clippers made a trade for Marcus Morris from the Knicks—the guy the Lakers had interest in adding before the Clippers made the move—putting both Morris twins in L.A. at a time when the Clippers and Lakers were considered the favorites in the Western Conference.
Among the Morrises, there was the same reaction most of us had: Those two will be seeing each other in the conference finals.
“Coming here, that was the first thought I had,” Markieff told the L.A. Times. “Like, damn, I’d be competing against Marcus in the Western Conference finals.”
That fell apart, though, when the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead against the Nuggets in the second round last year, allowing Denver into the conference finals against the eventual champion, the Lakers.
Despite a watered-down Western Conference, it could fall apart again this year. That’s because even as the No. 7 seed Lakers have regained their footing against Phoenix, the Clippers are struggling, facing another must-win scenario in Game 4 in Dallas.
Holding out Hope for Lakers-Clippers
Still, there is the possibility of a Clippers-Lakers WCF this year, if the Clippers can come back with another win against Dallas in Game 4. The team still has not played up to its capability on the defensive end and, last night, allowed 44 points, nine rebounds and nine assists to Mavs star Luka Doncic.
The Clippers’ strategy of letting Doncic get his own points while focusing on limited everyone else finally paid dividends, as L.A. held Dallas’ non-Doncic scorers to 23-for-55 shooting, or 39.6%. In Game 2, that number had been 60.4%, and it was 51.9% in Game 1.
The Lakers, meanwhile, should be able to get past the No. 2 seeded Suns, especially with point guard Chris Paul injured. So the pair can hold out hope that there will be a twin vs. twin showdown in the West finals. If it happens, it will just show that Clippers-Lakers was too big for the bubble.
“That matchup wasn’t supposed to happen in the bubble,” Marcus said, per the L.A. Times. “That was supposed to happen in Staples Center.”