DALLAS — Marcus Morris will attempt to spoil any fun a certain 7-foot-3 Latvian may have Friday just by being physical.
The Knicks know all too well from years past that rough play against Kristaps Porzingis can work.
Morris, whose reputation is as a tough, defensive-minded player, said he’ll probably start at small forward but will be matched up against Porzingis, who faces the Knicks for the first time since their divorce on Jan. 30th.
Morris said the Knicks are more concerned with guard Luka Doncic going off Friday in the Kristaps Porzingis Bowl as the 1-7 club attempts to snap a four-game losing streak and deny Porzingis any extra revenge.
“Just try to be physical with him,’’ Morris said after Friday’s morning shootaround at AmericanAirlines Center. “That’s my biggest thing is try to get up under him, be physical. He’s seven-foot, shoots the three, posts up, puts it on the ground. I’m definitely going to get his attempts up. But for me, stand under him, stand next to him, push him, lean on him a little bit.’’
Two years ago, Morris was with Boston and often defended Porzingis. However, it was Celtics coach Brad Stevens who came up with the idea of putting a much smaller and more physical player against Porzingis — guard Marcus Smart — and getting into his lower body. It worked.
“Yeah, you’ve got to get under him,’’ Morris said. “When I was in Boston Marcus Smart didn’t guard him, but I know what you’re talking about. I did see him. He can shoot the ball, he’s tall. He put on some weight. We’ll see. We’re really worried about Doncic. Doncic has been playing really well. We’ve got to get up on him because he controls their game. He’s really the engine for them.”
It must be no coincidence Knicks coach David Fizdale, who never got to coach Porzingis in a game last season, started talking up physicality to the media after Thursday’s practice. Fizdale said the Knicks weren’t physical enough in the 20-point loss in Detroit and that was the emphasis of practice.
“That’s gotta be our identity,’’ Morris said. “Coming into the season, that’s what we preached. All training camp, all preseason was very physical. I wouldn’t say we got away from it but the last couple games, we haven’t been as physical.’’
Fizdale hasn’t named his starting frontcourt with Mitchell Robinson missing the game with a concussion. He could use Julius Randle at center with Morris and Kevin Knox as forwards. The only two Knicks players Porzingis ever played with were Frank Ntilikina and Damyean Dotson.
“Definitely (he) will be extra motivated, like everybody on the court though,’’ Ntilikina said. “Our team is also really motivated to get this win in Dallas. We need that. We got ready today. So we’re going to be ready tonight.’’