Inside or outside, Suns seek best fit for Marcus Morris

The Suns’ summer roster is light on NBA experience, but Marcus Morris has two years in the league, and that makes him well-qualified to act as Phoenix’s floor leader.

The 6-foot-9-inch forward has led vocally and by example. Morris and twin brother Markieff Morris, as well as rookie guard Archie Goodwin, are the leading reasons the Suns tonight will play Golden State for the first NBA Summer League tournament championship.

The Suns held off Miami, 91-89, in Sunday’s semifinals, and the Warriors beat Charlotte, 75-67. Today’s final at the Thomas & Mack Center is at 6 p.m.

The Suns acquired Marcus Morris from Houston last season, and he came to Las Vegas to hone his small forward skills. But he was so effective under the basket and from inside 15 feet, he didn’t get a lot of opportunities to play on the perimeter.

“I think these guys are not natural 4s (power forwards), so it’s easy for me to post them up,” Morris told NBA.com last week. “I think during the year, 4-men are not going to be that small. (I’m) definitely just staying in that midrange area, knocking down the open 3, just doing all the other things to help the team win.”

New Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said: “I wanted to see Marcus outside, but he may have trouble guarding guys off screens. It could be a mismatch for him getting broken down off the dribble, but that was our intent.

“Of course, it works both ways. We can use him posting up against a lot of 3s (small forwards) because of his size.”

Morris leads the Suns (6-0) with 15.3 points per game and is second in rebounding (5.5) behind PJ Tucker.

Markieff Morris saved Phoenix on Sunday after it blew a 20-point third-quarter lead and trailed 86-83 with 3:21 to play. He drove the left baseline to score the decisive layup with 19 seconds left.

Hornacek bemoaned his team’s defensive collapse, saying: “You can’t relax once you get the lead. We weren’t guarding our man and we weren’t helping.”

The Suns also got a heady play by Dionte Christmas, who stopped James Ennis’ path to the basket and forced a tie-up with 4.4 seconds to go. On the jump ball, Christmas beat Ennis to the tap and knocked the ball into Miami’s backcourt. The Heat ran it down, but only got off a desperation 3-point shot at the buzzer.

Former UNLV guard Anthony Marshall played 12 scoreless minutes for Miami, which finished 4-3. In seven games, he averaged 16.6 minutes, 3.5 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 2.3 turnovers.

In the other semifinal, the Bobcats hung tough with the top-seeded Warriors (6-0) despite playing without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, top draft pick Cody Zeller and leading summer league scorer Jeffery Taylor. Rookie Brandon Triche and Troy Daniels both scored 13 points for Charlotte (4-2).

Golden State won its 13th straight summer league game dating to 2010. Cameron Jones scored 16 points, and Draymond Green had 15.

■ NOTES — Tickets for tonight’s championship game are $20 for adults and $10 for kids ages 16 and under and seniors. They will go on sale at 10 a.m. at the Thomas & Mack box office. … Attendance was 6,279 for Saturday’s quarterfinals and 3,965 for Sunday’s semis.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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