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Morning tip: Why two Wizards 'guarantee' Morris won't be problem


Morning tip: Why two Wizards 'guarantee' Morris won't be problem

For a player who has such a bad reputation after a tumultuous season with the Phoenix Suns, Markieff Morris draws nothing but high praise from those who know him well in ex-teammates -- and soon-to-be teammates once again -- Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley.

Morris was traded Thursday after a season in which he was suspended for throwing a towel in his coach's face on the bench and grabbing a teammate during a timeout during a game just two weeks ago. It all was a culmination of anger he had toward the organization that he claimed lied to him about personnel moves involving his brother, Marcus, who was traded to the Detroit Pistons. Markieff Morris, who is playing at less than his value at about $8 million per year because he opted to stay to play with his brother, never could get past it.

"That's blown out of proportion. This guy is emotional," said Gortat, who was traded here from Phoenix before the start of the 2013-14 season. "I'm not saying he's a quiet kid. He's kind of a spicy kid. Kind of an aggressive kid. From time to time he's aggressive but listen, this is what we need."

Morris is expected to emerge as the starting power forward for the Wizards (24-28), who beat the Utah Jazz 103-89 later Thursday. He's 6-10 but undersized in terms of strength in the low post but he gives them a better option than Dudley when it comes to post-up chances.

"Certain teams switch on us and Dud is not really going to be a post-up guy. They're able to switch on him in pick-and-rolls," point guard John Wall said. "(Morris) is able to post up, can rebound the ball, can finish around the paint and can make plays for us."

The fire and mean streak that the Wizards tend to lack, Morris has enough of each for everybody. 


"He's an unselfish guy. He knows the game. He's going to move the ball the way we move the ball. I'm sure he's hungry," Gortat said. "He's going to come face-to-face with somebody else, if they're going to (hard) foul me or John or anybody else, he's going to challenge the guy face-to-face. This is what we need, a guy who's down for his teammate and he's going to fight."

Gortat didn't mean that literally, of course. Coach Randy Wittman likes players with a bit of a mean streak anyway.

"In talking to the people that I talked to, I got nothing but rave reviews that he would be a good piece for us," Wittman said. "I talked to a lot of people I have a great respect for, that were very close to him at Phoenix."

Dudley has known Morris since his 2011 rookie season and has remained close to him since. Always blunt, while Dudley defended Morris as a person he wasn't fond of his reckless behavior toward Phoenix's coaching staff or his teammates.

"He's a good kid. When I was there, he had no problems," said Dudley, who spent two seasons with Morris. "He had one problem obviously this year when he had the situation where he felt disrespected, felt betrayed. I'm not going to defend him. Some of the stuff he did was unprofessional. But that being said, I guarantee you we'll have no problems with him here. He is a good friend of mine. I usually hang out with him in the summer time. It's easy for me to mentor him.

"His mom lives 35-45 minutes away from here. I've already talked to him. He's a starting power forward. ... We need another body, another athlete. From the time he gets here, he's going to be motivated to show people he's not that player (he was in Phoenix). He's got a fresh start. Anytime you've got John Wall on your team, it's going to make it a lot easier."

Gortat is about results was Washington struggles to re-establish itself as a serious team to be reckoned with come playoff time. They've got 30 games left in the regular season, including Friday vs. the Detroit Pistons, to change perceptions.

"You're looking for a basketball player who is going to help you win basketball games," he said, "and he's going to do that."

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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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