Oct 30, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) makes a slam dunk between Chicago Bulls forward Tony Snell (20) forward Pau Gasol (16) and guard Jimmy Butler (21) during overtime at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons win 98-94.
Marcus Morris looked down at the scoresheet and chuckled.
It was after the Detroit Pistons beat the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night in the season opener and Morris’ eyes were drawn to his scoring line.
37 minutes. 19 field goal attempts. Six makes. 18 points.
“This is the first time in my career a coach let me go 6-for-19,” Morris said in the visitor’s locker room at Philips Arena.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has given Marcus Morris a complete vote of confidence and the results were evident Friday night.
Morris carried the Pistons offensively with 26 points – 15 coming in the third quarter – to move to 3-0 with a 98-94 overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls in a battle of unbeatens.
Morris opened overtime with a 17-footer to spur a 7-0 run as the Pistons continued their best start since 2008-09.
“I said this when we brought (Morris) here, we thought he was one of those guys that just if you give him an opportunity,” Van Gundy said. “You know there are a lot of guys like that in this league that if they get in the right spot, right system, right opportunity, they can really thrive.
“We are only three games right now; he certainly is thriving.”
Reggie Jackson got the best of Bulls standout point guard Derrick Rose by going for 22 points on 9 of 24 shooting, seven assists and seven rebounds. He scored 17 points in the second half and got to the rim for several key baskets. Rose only managed eight points on 13 shot attempts, to go along with six assists and five turnovers.
Andre Drummond was dominant with 20 points, 20 rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots – the fifth 20-20 game of Drummond’s career.
But the guy probably drawing the most cheers from the electric announced crowd of 16,035 was Morris.
The Pistons were stagnant for most of the first half. After taking an early 15-6 lead, they only scored 20 points the rest of the first half with 12 coming in the second quarter.
With the Pistons trailing, 41-39, at the 9:45 mark of the third quarter, Morris scored 15 of the Pistons’ next 21 points, and his triple with 1:58 left in the quarter gave the Pistons a 60-58 lead.
In previous stops with the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets, Morris was looking over his shoulder at the bench, knowing a mistake or a couple of missed shots would end his time on court.
But after he was acquired from the Suns in the off-season, Van Gundy told him to just be Marcus.
“He’s letting me play,” Morris said. “He’s putting me in the spots that’s making me successful and by that I mean I’m not playing out of my game.
“He allows me to just play my game and when he has that much confidence, I feel the only thing I can do is get better.”
Morris’ game features midrange action – an advanced stat no-no.
But Morris – along with Jackson – are the players allowed to seek midrange scoring opportunities.
Morris can be efficient and he was 6-for-10 (10-for-15 overall) on midrange jumpers against the Bulls (2-1).
He started the key OT run with a 17-footer.
Jackson then beat Rose for a power drive to the hoop and Anthony Tolliver concluded the run with a triple.
Nikola Mirotic scored 22 points for the Bulls (2-1) and Pau Gasol finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Pistons’ Meeks out 3-4 months with foot injury