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Markieff Morris okay with NBA players resting, says game has changed

Markieff Morris okay with NBA players resting, says game has changed

Wizards forward Markieff Morris has weighed both sides of the debate around resting players in the NBA and does not believe it should be a big deal for guys to take a night off every once in a while.

Strong opinions have been shared from both sides, including from Morris' teammate John Wall, who told CSN recently that he thinks the game has gotten "softer." Morris, though, can see why taking a night off might make sense every once in a while.

"For me, it just depends on what your body tells you, man. It's a long and brutal season," Morris said. "For us, last week we had like three back-to-backs or something like that with a day in between to rest. It gets tough. For a player like LeBron [James], I can understand that. You've played more minutes than [Michael] Jordan and all those guys. It's like one game here and there, it won't hurt."

Morris is right that LeBron has logged more minutes than Jordan. Despite being 32 and likely with a few more years left in the NBA, LeBron has already played 49,341 minutes in 1,252 games including the playoffs across 14 seasons. Jordan played 48,485 minutes in 1,251 games across 15 seasons. That means, coincidentally, that on Saturday night against the Wizards LeBron officially passed Jordan in games played. 

Jordan, according to Steve Clifford, the coach he employs as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, does not believe in resting players. And he is not alone, as other legends from his generation like Charles Barkley and Karl Malone have weighed in with strong opinions on the matter.

Morris thinks those guys need to chill out and understand that this isn't the 1980s and 90s.

"That's the old school, man. At the end of the day I've got the utmost respect for those guys. They paved the way for us, but it's different now, man. The league is different. A lot of things have changed since back in the day. You've gotta adjust with that. It just is what it is."

Morris was referring to advancements in sports science and training methods. The decision to rest a player is often made with the consultation of a team's medical staff and, as Gregg Popovich has argued, they are trying to preserve players and extend their careers.

Though Morris picks that side in the argument, he doesn't advocate for players to rest often. He knows doesn't think players should abuse the practice.

"You get your chance to play. When you ain't on the court, it's tough. This is our livelihood. This is what we do. You can never take the game for granted," he said.

[RELATED: Wizards coach Scott Brooks has little sympathy for NBA players who rest just to rest]

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Marcin Gortat loses the Mohawk, much to the approval of his teammates and coach

Marcin Gortat loses the Mohawk, much to the approval of his teammates and coach

WASHINGTON — After the Washington Wizards fell behind to a 0-2 hole in their series with the Toronto Raptors, there were a lot places where people jumped to criticism. Marcin Gortat was right in the middle of that discussion after his Game 2 performance.

Heading into Game 3 though, Gortat made a change. Not only on the court, but in his appearance.

Yep, he shaved the Mohawk.

“There were a lot of people insisting,” Gortat said. “Keef [Markieff Morris] was bringing, for the past week, he was bringing clippers to the practice to try to shave me after practice, but I was always dipping.”

“I pulled a Houdini trick, I was disappearing right at the end of the practice. So I finally said 'You know what I'm done' fixing, you know it takes a lot of time to maintain that so I decided to shave it. And I'm glad because I was smoother out there.”

Smooth is right, and to the tune of 16 points, 8-of-10 shooting in nearly 26 minutes of action, Gortat had his best scoring output since March 17. He was one of five Wizards to reach double figures on the evening.

“That was the key,” John Wall said.

Often times in sport it superstitious to shave anything during the postseason. After all, the Mohawk has been a staple for the 6-11 center for the entire 2017-18 season. Now he is back to his polished look, one that helps identify the ‘Polish Hammer.’

“We needed the old Marc back, we need the hammer back. I felt like we got him back,” Morris said. “I'd cut his head. He's too cute with that Mohawk.”

A small sample size, but Morris’ point is valid. Time will tell if the post-mohawk era for Gortat will favor the Wizards past one game.

“I think he got an age-appropriate haircut,” head coach Scott Brooks said.

He has a point too… Gortat is 34-years-old.

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Markieff Morris set tone for Wizards, who finally got back to 'Death Row mentality'

Markieff Morris set tone for Wizards, who finally got back to 'Death Row mentality'

Perhaps Toronto and their fans would disagree, but through two games the first round playoff series between the Wizards and Raptors had been relatively uneventful, maybe even boring to the casual observer. For those who have watched the Wizards in recent years, something just seemed off with them.

Not only were Bradley Beal and Otto Porter struggling to score, but the energy and grit we're used to from the Wizards in the postseason just wasn't there. Three minutes into Game 3 on Friday night, that all changed.

Wizards forward Markieff Morris got tangled with Raptors rookie OG Anunoby and fell to the ground. He rose up, shoved Anunoby and gave Serge Ibaka a push for good measure. It cost Morris a technical, but he wasn't ejected. From there, the tone was set.

This was to be a physical game and the Wizards were going to make sure of it. That's how they prefer to play and that nastiness had been missing thus far in this series.

"I think OG [Anunoby] did not know the scouting report because he did not know that Keef is one of the people you do not mess with in this world," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He will learn.”

The fireworks didn't end there. Beal and Jonas Valanciunas got into it and so did John Wall and Anunoby, and then Wall and Ibaka.

The Wizards made a name for themselves in the 2016-17 season when they won 49 games and were one win away from the conference finals as a team that would instigate contact and talk trash. They prided themselves on being old school in that regard and were praised for it by former NBA tough guys like Paul Pierce and Stephen Jackson.

This season, they just haven't been able to do it as often.

"We have been there at spurts throughout the year, we just have not been there consistently," Oubre said. "Now it is do or die. We just need to bring that Death Row mentality.”

Oubre also joked that rapper Drake started it all by sitting courtside in Toronto and talking trash. Truthfully, their backs were against the wall and they had no choice but to punch back.

The Wizards entered Friday's game down 0-2 to the Raptors with Game 2 a dispirited blowout. If they went down 0-3, they would essentially have been dead in the water. No team has come back from that deficit in NBA history.

This time, they weren't going to go down without a fight.

"It sounds crazy, but sometimes we need that. The crazy part is that it's always [Morris]," center Marcin Gortat said. "If you see your teammate fighting, I'm going to fight with him. That's the bottom-line."

"We came out tonight with an edge about ourselves," Beal said. "Keef is a bully... we are physical team." 

As for Morris, the enforcer himself, he let his actions speak for themselves. He didn't take the bait on most questions, but did wear a 'Death Row D.C.' shirt during his media availability. Morris came up with that nickname last season to convey the toughness he wants the Wizards to play with.

"We need some physicality," Morris said. "I feel like when we were in Toronto, they were doing everything too freely. This kind of set the tone for the whole series... we need to keep our same mean mentality. If they wanna fight, we will fight."

The Wizards fought the Hawks and Celtics last year tooth-and-nail and often used physical play to their advantage. It worked in Game 3 against the Raptors. Now the Wizards will have to counter however Toronto chooses to respond.

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