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Updated Jan 21, 2014 - 9:47 am

Phoenix Suns' Jeff Hornacek says Markieff Morris increased effort to play out of slump

Dallas Mavericks forward Brandan Wright fouls Phoenix Suns power forward Markieff Morris (11) in the third quarter during an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Phoenix Suns recently returned home from a tough Eastern road trip that featured travel delays, five games in seven nights and four losses by a combined 14 points.

Another common theme of the trip was the struggle of third-year power forward Markieff Morris, who shot just 29 percent from the floor and averaged 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game on the trek.

But in his last three games at US Airways Center, Morris has been rejuvenated, averaging 21 points and 8.3 boards while shooting a blistering 56 percent.

Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek joined Doug and Wolf Tuesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM and said Morris increased his effort level to play himself out of the slump.

"Basically, I grabbed him after practice one day and I said 'Markieff, we need you, you're our key guy off the bench, but the only way you're going to get out of this is to play as hard as you can.' That's how you get back into it," Hornacek said. "I think guys kind of go through the motions sometimes. I think he fell a little bit back into his habit of last year -- just kind of floating around and not really running and making hard moves offensively.

"Basically that was it, I told him 'play as hard as you can and good things will happen.'"

Hornacek went on to explain that there's one statistic that really indicates how hard the former Kansas star is playing.

"Probably rebounds," he said. "Whenever you tell a guy you don't think he's playing hard, they all tell you 'Coach, I'm playing hard.' Then you show them little things on tape and you show them they played 24 minutes and they got three rebounds -- from a power forward, that's not playing hard.

"When Markieff is rebounding, he's into the game, then he runs up and down the court. I think he enjoys being out there when we're really pushing the ball because he feels he can really outrun a lot of the four-men."

About the Author

School: Arizona State University

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: October 2011

Favorite sports memory: Watching Cardinals win NFC Championship over Philly in January 2009 with my Dad...ASU wins 1987 Rose Bowl...Suns defeat Lakers in 1990 NBA Playoffs...2001 World Series

Favorite all-time athletes: Don Mattingly, Jeff Hornacek, Walter Davis, Anquan Boldin

Favorite sports movies: Friday Night Lights, The Natural, Hoosiers


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