Markieff Morris drilled a three-pointer that tied the score early in the fourth quarter and did a little celebration Sunday night, hunching over and pointing three fingers to the floor as he eased up the court to a roaring Lakers bench enjoying the moment.
Morris was a standout in his reserve role for the Lakers, his 19 points making him one of the few forces the team had going for it against the Miami Heat at AdventHealth Arena on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
But as well as he played, Morris wishes he could have done more, wishes his production could have helped the Lakers to a victory instead of seeing his team lose 115-104 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Even though he did his part, even though he helped fill a big void caused by star forward Anthony Davis playing with foul trouble and finishing with just 15 points, Morris was not satisfied.
Morris, a ninth-year forward whom the Lakers signed in February after the Detroit Pistons bought out his contract, finished five for 11 from three-point range and six for 13 from the field overall. He also grabbed six rebounds in his 25 minutes.
He finished with a plus-10 rating for the game, and his five three-pointers were a postseason career high.
“I was just shooting the shots they were giving me,” Morris said. “I wasn’t hesitating. Coming into this game and watching film, they are giving us a lot of wide-open shots. You just got to consistently shoot the shots. They are going to fall. They have been falling for us the whole playoffs. That’s how we are going to beat this Miami team.”
The Lakers had been fighting back all game against the stubborn and hard-playing Heat.
But it looked as if the Lakers had captured some momentum when Morris drilled a three-pointer to pull them to within 89-86 early in the fourth quarter.
And when he sank another three to tie the score at 89 and did his little celebration, it looked as if the Lakers were ready to take back control of the game.
“[Markieff] made big shots,” said Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, who also scored 19 points off the bench. “Guys are going to leave us open. Our job is to, this [second] unit, is to hit shots, and he came in and he did that at a high rate.”
Morris was active all night, collecting a defensive rebound after his second three-pointer in the fourth, leading to a layup by Rajon Rondo that gave the Lakers a 91-89 advantage.
But the Heat did not go away no matter what Morris and the Lakers did.
“They were just quicker to the punch, I feel like,” Morris said. “We were fighting back the entire game. We had a lot of miscues, small stuff. That’s not normal. We’re going to go [in] tomorrow, watch film and make adjustments.”
When the Lakers made one last push after getting down by eight points later in the fourth, Morris again was in the middle of it.
His three-pointer with 2 minutes 11 seconds remaining got the Lakers back to within five points.
But again, the Heat had an answer.
Now the Lakers must prepare for Game 4 on Tuesday night knowing they are in a competitive series.
“All of us want to win at the end of the day,” Morris said. “We all have been here for 80 days or something like that. We want to win bad. We didn’t show that tonight.
“We feel like Miami was the more aggressive team. We fouled a lot. We just couldn’t really get into Lakers basketball tonight. We’re going to watch this film and come back better in Game 4.”