Markieff Morris went from odd man out to a key role in the Lakers’ starting lineup

Lakers forward Markieff Morris drives to the basket in front of Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney.
Lakers forward Markieff Morris drives to the basket in front of Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney during the second quarter of the Lakers’ 117-91 win Sunday at Staples Center.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Thrust into a starting role, Markieff Morris was efficient and a key contributor for the Lakers against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night at Staples Center.

Morris started his third consecutive game, taking over for Kyle Kuzma, who had filled in at power forward for Anthony Davis while the All-Star forward is out with a strained right calf.

Before the Lakers torched the Warriors, 117-91, Coach Frank Vogel said he has started Morris because “I like what he brings to the table.”


Morris displayed a full sample of his game in his 24 minutes 14 seconds of playing time. He scored a season-high 13 points, tied for the second most on the Lakers behind LeBron James’ 19.

Morris collected eight rebounds, second on the team behind Kuzma’s 11 boards, and had four assists, also tied for second on the team.

LeBron James and the Lakers couldn’t be stopped in their 117-91 victory over the Warriors, but with Anthony Davis injured the road ahead will be tough.

Feb. 28, 2021

Morris was four for eight from the field and two for four from three-point range. He was a plus-18 in the plus-minus department.

The Lakers have won two of the three games Morris has started while Davis is out. He had 12 points and nine rebounds in a start against the Utah Jazz last week.

“When Anthony went down, our first look was to play with Kuz in there and Bron sort of defending the four man,” Vogel said in a videoconference before the game. “We didn’t get off to a good start. We had lost three in a row and four out of five, so we wanted to look at this stretch of games to see Kieff in the starting lineup.”

In five starts this season, Morris is averaging 9.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 25.8 minutes. His ability to stretch the small forward position with his three-point shot and score down low has helped Morris get on the floor and helped the Lakers be more versatile.


Highlights from the Lakers’ 117-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday at Staples Center.

“Just to be ready when games go, when the games start, man,” Morris said of his job. “I’ve been a starter my whole career. I started in Detroit before I got here so I’m used to it. For me, it’s to get going quick. You play with LeBron, I know early in the game, he likes to feel the game out. So, me bringing that scoring punch early, just bringing the energy early, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

There was a stretch in February when Morris had fallen out of the rotation. The Lakers had lost two consecutive games, forcing Vogel to shorten his 11-man rotation to nine players.

Morris didn’t play in four consecutive games and wasn’t happy, but he was professional and supportive. Now he is starting and flourishing.

“The last couple of games before, probably like the last three, we’ve been struggling to score somewhat without Dennis [Schroder],” Morris said. “Now these guys are just telling me to play my game. They know I can score all over the court. I know I was used as a scorer before I came to the Lakers, so anything that can help the team win and just use my different abilities, that I can do.”