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Morrison having his ups, downs

Adam Morrison sat slumped over near his locker and ran his fingers along his trademark mustache. It was minutes after Charlotte's 105-84 loss to the Raptors on Monday at the Air Canada Centre and Morrison dissected his line on the stat sheet: 1 of 6 from the floor, three points, three turnovers.

Morrison is one of the cornerstones of the Bobcats' franchise, but his rookie season has ebbed and flowed between impressive and commonplace.

"I'm still trying to get used to the schedule and the speed of the game," Morrison said. "I don't think the speed of the game is any quicker or a lot faster than in college, but I have to be more consistent and string better games together."

The former Gonzaga All-American is going through the standard growing pains of an NBA rookie. But the difference between his first season and those of other rookies -- apart from Portland's Brandon Roy -- is that Morrison was supposed to be more NBA ready after playing three years in college. And at times this season, he's been that kind of player.

In back-to-back games recently against Atlanta, Morrison shot 53.1 percent (17 of 32) from the field and averaged 18.5 points. In a game against New Jersey, he tied a career high with seven boards and dished a personal-best seven assists. In November, he shared Rookie of the Month honors with Memphis' Rudy Gay.

But there have also been nights like Monday where Morrison struggles to become involved in the offense. There was the 1-for-15 game against the Los Angeles Lakers just before New Year's and the 3-for-13 game at Chicago on Dec. 23. There was a horrid stretch in early December against Detroit, San Antonio, Houston and Phoenix in which Morrison hit just 4 of 34 (11.7 percent) overall and 1 of 8 from three-point range (12.5).

Morrison was picked No. 3 overall, an indication the Bobcats will build their franchise around him, but he's started only 19 times through 40 games. Morrison is averaging 13.5 points, second among rookies behind Roy, but is shooting only 37.7 percent from the floor.

"He's not shooting it at a percentage he's accustomed to, but it's his first year in the league," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "It takes a while. It takes a year, a year and a half of playing the NBA game. Few rookies come in shooting 48 or 45 percent, especially if you're primarily a jump shooter. It takes a while to understand you're playing against bigger, quicker guys."

Morrison knows his limitations. At 6-foot-8, 205 pounds, he figures he'll never be bulky, but he wants to add 5 to 10 pounds during the offseason. He can help Charlotte by becoming a better defender and grabbing offensive rebounds. When his jumper isn't falling, Morrison, who has a good feel for the game and is an underrated passer, might be better served driving more to the basket. Such is life for an NBA rookie.

"I know I can be productive in the NBA," Morrison said. "It's just a matter of me getting used to the style and being more consistent. It will come."

e-mail: rmckissic@buffnews.com

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