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Darius Morris appears solid in NBA preseason debut

December 20, 2011 |  1:58 pm

After just over a week of training camp and one preseason game, Darius Morris has already earned himself a nickname. 

Lakers Coach Mike Brown has dubbed the L.A. native and Windward School graduate "Wheels" because, well, he just keeps moving.

"That’s what he wants me to do is push the ball and just try to create easy looks for our teammates," Morris said. "You know, come up and present a different kind of tempo when I check in the game and try to put pressure on the defense."

Morris checked into the Lakers' eventual 114-95 preseason loss Monday to the Clippers far earlier than expected. He knew Brown would sit veteran guard Derek Fisher but didn't anticipate subbing in for Steve Blake at the 6:22 mark after Blake tweaked his left ankle. 

Morris admitted feeling nervous, but didn't show it, finishing with 11 points on five of nine shooting, three assists and three rebounds in 24 minutes of play.

"I thought he played very well," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "He played with a lot of confidence and shot the ball very well too."

That happened right away. On one possession, Morris held the ball in his hands as the shot clock was winding down. Instead of passing to a teammate, he ran an isolation play and nailed a 22-footer just before the shot clocked expired.

"That was like the ice breaker for me," Morris said. "For that one to go in was a huge boost for my confidence."

Morris followed that with two more buzzer beaters. One came after he took a baseline shot that hit badly off the side of the backboard. But Morris collected the rebound and converted on a bank shot.  He also nailed a 20-footer to tie the game at 28-28 just before the first quarter ended. In the fourth quarter, Morris pushed the ball up the court and spun past a defender before connecting with Andrew Bynum in transition.

All in all, it proved to be a good debut.

"The rook came in and he was either feast or famine, which was OK," Brown said. "It was his first taste of NBA experience."


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-- Mark Medina

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