Calling his step on the foot of Dallas star Luka Doncic an accident that he apologized for, Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. said that the suggestion he had intentionally tried to hurt the Mavericks guard during Game 5 of their playoff series was “absurd.”
While Doncic received an inbound pass during the third quarter of the Clippers’ 154-111 victory Tuesday, Morris ran from behind and stepped on Doncic’s foot, knocking his shoe off. Doncic had injured his left ankle in Game 3.
Morris defended his professionalism on Twitter after the victory, which gave the Clippers a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, and reiterated his stance before the team’s practice the following day. He said, in part, that he’d been challenged from coaches to pressure Doncic with full-court defense at times and that he never played to hurt an opponent.
“I just felt like to try to find a narrative and try to create a story was too far and I won’t take the disrespect to my character like that and I hope he’s OK,” Morris said. “I actually apologized right when it happened and mistakes happen but I’m a man, at the end of the day, with kids and with family watching and a lot of people have a lot of respect for me and one thing I’m not is a dirty player. I hang my hat on being a hard worker and a respected man in this league and I hope people can look at that and know me as who I am and I would never even go that far to try to hurt somebody.”
It was not the only play made by Morris on Tuesday that drew the Mavericks’ ire. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle took issue with an uncalled landing space violation in which Morris’ foot landed under Doncic as the guard came down from shooting a three-pointer.
"There’s no place for plays like that in our game,” Carlisle said. “The league has the ability retroactively to look at that and determine whether they felt it was intentional or not. Look, I don’t know what goes through Morris’ head. I know he came out and had some tweets last night or whatever. This is something the league’s going to have to deal with.”
However, the league had more pressing issues to deal with Wednesday than a review of an uncalled foul. After the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play Game 5 of their first-round series against Orlando, all three playoff games on the day’s schedule were postponed by the league. Players who have spoken out about the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police in Kenosha, Wis., called a meeting later that evening to discuss whether to continue participating in the league’s restart.
No decision has been made about Thursday’s slate of playoff games. The Clippers are one victory from winning their series against the Dallas Mavericks.
"I am angry over the shooting of a black man #JacobBlake @DocRivers and The @Bucks players said it well We need real police accountability," Clippers owner Steve Ballmer posted to Twitter late Wednesday. "Give citizens data to do so. Let's have criminal justice reform that keeps all people safe but not senselessly imprisoned or afraid.
"Now is the time to research and vote for the mayors, council people, commissioners, legislators, governors, judges, prosecutors, and attorneys general who can make it happen. Now is the time to workout a bipartisan national police reform starting with the bill from @RepKaren Bass."
I am again angry over the shooting of a black man #JacobBlake @DocRivers and The @Bucks players said it well We need real police accountability. Give citizens data to do so. Let’s have criminal justice reform that keeps all people safe but not senselessly imprisoned or afraid— Steve Ballmer (@Steven_Ballmer) August 27, 2020
Now is the time to research and vote for the mayors, council people, commissioners, legislators, governors, judges, prosecutors, and attorneys general who can make it happen. Now is the time to workout a bipartisan national police reform starting with the bill from @RepKarenBass— Steve Ballmer (@Steven_Ballmer) August 27, 2020
Carlisle said he did not know of any plans to boycott Game 6 of his team’s series but less than a half hour later, the Bucks stayed in their locker room and set off a domino effect across their league and others, including MLB and the WNBA.
Should the series resume, the Mavericks remain unclear whether center Kristaps Porzingis, who has a sore right knee, will be healthy enough to play.
Though Porzingis “desperately wants to play,” Carlisle added that “I would like to be more optimistic than I am.”
Greif reported from Los Angeles.