Celtics

Jurors begin deliberations in Morris twins assault trial

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Jurors begin deliberations in Morris twins assault trial

PHOENIX - Defense attorneys told a jury Monday that the aggravated assault case involving NBA players Marcus and Markieff Morris in the 2015 beating of a former acquaintance is inexcusably and unforgivably tainted.

Prosecutor Thomas Bailey argued the Morris brothers had a motive to attack the victim and said the defendants "acted like high school bullies on a playground."

Jurors began deliberating the case after hearing remaining closing arguments from Bailey and attorneys representing Markieff Morris and the final defendant, Gerald Bowman.

The brothers are accused of helping three other people beat Erik Hood on Jan. 24, 2015, outside a high school basketball game in Phoenix.

Defense attorney James Belanger told jurors the case is tainted by Hood's mentor, who tried to solicit two witnesses to implicate the Morris brothers for a cash payment in return.

"That is outrageous," Belanger said. "And you should be outraged by that, and it affects every aspect of this case."

But Bailey stressed that Hood's mentor did not have any effect on witnesses' testimony, including the one made by the victim.

Those two witnesses testified about the mentor's attempt and their refusal to lie. They both went to break up the fight and placed the Morris brothers near the site but not as part of the altercation.

Belanger, who represents Markieff Morris, said the investigation done by police was "mediocre" and argued that the state's theory of Markieff acting as a lookout was "dead on arrival."

Belanger said neither of those two witnesses said they were threatened, or told not to go down to the fight by the Morris brothers.

Hood has known the Morris brothers since they were promising teenage AAU players, but they had a falling out.

Hood, 36, testified his relationship with the brothers became strained because of a misinterpreted text message he sent their mother. He said there was nothing "improper" happening with him and their mother.

Marcus was traded to the Boston Celtics in July and Markieff plays for the Washington Wizards.

The NBA players missed the start of their respective preseasons because of the two-week trial.

If they are found guilty, the Morris brothers face the possibility of probation or prison time and discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10-game suspension. Markieff Morris will also be sidelined for several weeks after having a sports hernia surgery.

Defense attorneys have repeatedly said Hood lied to police nine times when he said both twins were involved in the assault. Hood later changed his statement to say Markieff did not beat him but had been in the vicinity.

Belanger said Hood needed to keep one of the Morris brothers involved in the case.

Bailey told the jury to consider the "money aspect" but also the fact that Hood was beaten severely by the defendants and that he wants them to pay.

Two of the other co-defendants pleaded guilty Sept. 13 to the same aggravated assault charges. The Morris brothers and Bowman have pleaded not guilty.

Stars, studs and duds: Kyrie won't call win vs. Pistons 'payback'

Stars, studs and duds: Kyrie won't call win vs. Pistons 'payback'

Kyrie Irving wouldn’t call Boston’s 91-81 win at Detroit payback, even though the Nov. 27 loss to the Pistons was very much on the mind of him and his teammates.

As he went through the keys to Boston’s win, near the end he said, “just remember what they did to us at home. That was also in the back of our minds.”

Irving added, “I wouldn’t call it payback. It’s just always good when you can respond the way you want to, especially on their home floor just like they did on our home floor. They took care of business. We wanted to come here and take care of business.”

Indeed, beating Detroit was more about bouncing back than payback for Boston which had lost a hard-fought 105-102 game at San Antonio on Friday night.

“In order to continue to build character and an identity for our team,” Irving said. “You have to be able to respond to losses like that with a quick turnaround.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 91-81 win over Detroit.

 

STARS

Aron Baynes

There were others who scored more points and grabbed more rebounds, but it was the play of Baynes that really set the tone for the Celtics’ victory. His ability to not just defend Andre Drummond, but also to provide help against Detroit’s dribble-penetrators and still be in position to protect the rim and rebound, was impressive. He would finish with six points and a season-high 13 rebounds.

Tobias Harris

He began the game getting buckets and didn’t really let up, finishing with a game-high 19 points in part by using his quickness when defended by a bigger defender (Al Horford), or use his strength to bully less physically imposing players (Jaylen Brown).

Al Horford

His inside-outside game offensively was a major key for the Celtics all game. Horford led the Celtics with a near double-double, tallying a team-high 18 points to go with nine rebounds in addition to dishing out six assists.

 

STUDS

Avery Bradley

It wasn’t a great shooting night for Bradley (12 points, 5-for-16 shooting), but he once again did an impressive job defensively especially against Kyrie Irving (16 points, 4-for-12 shooting).

Anthony Tolliver

Coming off the Pistons bench, Tolliver delivered 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting which was huge for keeping Detroit in the game.

 

DUDS

Andre Drummond

Credit Aron Baynes and company for absolutely taking him out of the game. He missed four of his five shot attempts, and the one that counted was a tip-in that upon seeing the replay looked as though it should have not counted. He led all players with 15 rebounds, but Drummond’s impact was minimal at best which as the Pistons know better than anyone, isn’t enough for them to win.

Reggie Jackson

Boston completely shut Jackson down as the former Boston College star missing all nine of his shot attempts while tallying just two points on a pair of free throws.

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Baynes' play key for Celtics in 91-81 victory over Pistons

Baynes' play key for Celtics in 91-81 victory over Pistons

Aron Baynes was a game-time decision after taking a blow to the stomach against San Antonio on Friday.

He played on Sunday afternoon, and delivered one of his best games of the season which was indeed a kick in the stomach to Detroit whose fourth-quarter comeback efforts came up short in Boston’s 91-81 victory.

Baynes didn't score much (six points), but his defense and rebounding (13 rebounds) would prove pivotal in Boston's win. 

Boston (23-5) got off to a slow start but spent most of the game playing with a lead. Al Horford led the Celtics with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists while Kyrie Irving chipped in with 16 points. Tobias Harris led all scorers with 19 points.

But Detroit, among the best comeback teams in the NBA, didn’t go down quietly.

Detroit (14-12), which has now lost six straight, were on the comeback trail with a 12-0 run in the fourth that coincided with the Celtics missing 12 straight shots.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens had seen enough when he called a time-out with 4:19 to play and Boston clinging to a 79-75 lead.

Jaylen Brown ended the shot-making slump for Boston with a driving basket to the lane, only for Andre Drummond to get a tip-in – his first points of the game – cut into Boston’s lead.

As Detroit fought back, the Celtics continued to make all the necessary plays which included a 3-pointer by Al Horford and a driving lay-up by Marcus Smart, the latter putting Boston ahead 89-80.

While they were getting it done down the stretch, the player of the game for Boston was easily Aron Baynes.

A game-time decision after taking a blow to the stomach at San Antonio on Friday, Baynes had six points and a season-high 13 rebounds in addition to doing an impressive job in limiting Drummond all game.

Drummond, who had 26 points and 22 rebounds against Boston on Nov. 27, was held to just six points and 15 rebounds.

Detroit opened the game with a 10-4 run, looking to pick up where they left off when the two met on Nov. 27 and the Pistons handed Boston a 118-108 defeat, Boston’s worst loss of the season.

However, the Celtics bounced back with a 11-0 run of their own and continued to play with a lead that slowly but surely, steadily expanded.

Leading 44-37 at the half, Boston scored the first five points of the third – a tip-in by Baynes, a Brown lay-up and a technical free throw by Kyrie Irving after Drummond was whistled for a technical with 10:23 to play in the third.

Boston would spend most of the third quarter milking a double-digit lead, with the quarter ending with the Celtics ahead 73-59 as Terry Rozier drained a 3-pointer that just beat the third quarter horn sounding off.

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