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Markieff Morris is returning soon to a Wizards team that has managed well during his absence

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Markieff Morris is returning soon to a Wizards team that has managed well during his absence

Though the exact game will be affected by his suspension for Friday night's fight against the Warriors, Markieff Morris' return to the Wizards could happen any day now, as the power forward is 5 1/2 weeks removed from the sports hernia surgery he had on Sept. 22. 

His initial recovery timeline was six to eight weeks and it's looking more and more like Morris will hit the front end of that timetable. Head coach Scott Brooks indicated to reporters on the Wizards road trip this weekend that Morris will return soon, perhaps by the end of the week.

People within the Wizards organization caution that Morris may take several weeks to reach midseason form due to the nature of his injury and the timing of his return. In terms of game action, he is nearly a month behind everyone else.

Still, getting Morris back on the court will be a boon for the Wizards. Last season he was a key cog on a Washington team that won 49 games, their most as a franchise since 1978-79, and reached the second round of the playoffs. He complements the rest of their starting lineup well on both ends of the floor and is their best answer defensively to stretch-fours. 

The Wizards stand 4-2 as they return home from the West Coast and probably feel they should be at least 5-1, considering one of those losses was to the lottery-bound Lakers. They remain in good shape, however, despite the absence of Morris for what will be at least seven games by the time he steps on the court.

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Kelly Oubre, Jr. deserves a good deal of credit for the Wizards compensating for Morris' loss. He wasn't the first choice to start, Jason Smith was, but once Smith went down with a shoulder injury in the season opener, Oubre was the replacement and Brooks has kept him there ever since. 

Through six games, Oubre is averaging 11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks. He is shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from three, looking like a more refined offensive player than he was just a few months ago. His 117 offensive rating and 103 defensive rating suggest he's been one of the Wizards' best players on both ends of the floor.

Oubre is averaging 35.2 minutes while providing that level of production. At times Brooks, has had no choice but to ride Oubre with Smith hurt and Ian Mahinmi's sprained left ankle adding another injury to their frontcourt, but Oubre has held his own.

Mike Scott has also had his moments. He's averaging 8.0 points in 19.7 minutes on 46.3 percent from the field. In Sunday's win over the Kings, he scored 11 straight points for the Wizards and in his last two games has 27 total points in 39 minutes on 10-for-16 shooting.

Morris is not going to be able to carry a full load of minutes right from the start, meaning Oubre could continue to play an increased role in the interim. Regardless, he will be the sixth man with the starting lineup fully healthy.

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How Brooks utilizes Smith and Scott will likely be a work in progress. Scott is new to the Wizards' bench, as are guards Tim Frazier and Jodie Meeks. Morris rejoining the team will produce a domino effect in the rotation as Brooks discovers which lineups he likes and doesn't like while working with a full lot of players.

The Wizards' 4-2 record has coincided with most stats reflecting them favorably. But Morris can help them in specific areas of need. They rank in the bottom half of the NBA in rebounding and their three-point numbers could use improvement. They are a pedestrian 15th in three-pointers made and 16th in attempts. Morris can help spread the floor with a respectable outside shot. Plus, Smith will help those numbers as he gets healthier.

The Wizards' primary starting lineup this season with Oubre alongside John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat holds a 23.6 net rating, best among NBA five-man lineups with at least 50 minutes logged this season. Swapping in Morris shouldn't disrupt that success and pushing Oubre to the bench will only help the second unit.

With Morris' return getting closer and closer, the Wizards have to feel good about how they have operated during his absence and the potential of their roster once he is back in the fold.

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Wizards suffer another ugly loss to the Mavericks in game Otto Porter left with an injury

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Wizards suffer another ugly loss to the Mavericks in game Otto Porter left with an injury

The Washington Wizards lost to the Dallas Mavericks 98-75 on Monday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

It happened again: No one who has been following the Wizards throughout the 2017-18 season will be surprised by this. Once again, the Wizards faced a team with a far worse record, yet they not only lost, they got thorougly dominated.

And for the second time this season, it was the Mavs who pulled off the upset. Dallas beat them in Washington all the way back on Nov. 7, before we know these troubles against bad teams would define the Wizards' season to this point.

Offense was a major problem for the Wizards. They scored just 15 points in the second quarter and shot 35.6 percent in the first half. They only scored 17 in the third quarter and finished with just 75 for the game on 30.6 percent from the field. 

The Wizards also continue to have trouble in revenge games. Despite having a chance to punch back, they have lost twice to the Mavs, Nets, Hornets and Jazz now twice.

This one was just plain ugly and the result was the Wizards' 11th loss to a sub-.500 team. That's tied for the most in the NBA. They know it's a big problem, but they just can't seem to figure out why.

The Wizards have now lost five of their last eight games. With just over two weeks left until the trade deadline, one has to wonder what the Wizards' front office will do to shake things up. At some point they have to do something. It's not early anymore.

RELATED: OUBRE IS CHANGING WIZARDS' OUTLOOK

Porter injured: The Wizards didn't just lose, they saw one of their best players go down with an injury. Otto Porter was the player and once again it was his right hip, a recurring injury that has sidelined him periodically throughout his NBA career, including at various times this season.

Porter left for the locker room in the third quarter and never returned. The Wizards have two off-days coming up which should work in his favor, but clearly this is a concern as Porter can't shake the injury.

Wall played: Wall had another bout with migraine headaches and missed the team's shootaround. He was considered a gametime decision, but was able to give it a go. Early on, he didn't look affected by the headaches at all.

Wall came out hot by hitting his first shot and have five points and two assists in his first five minutes. By halftime, he had 11 points, four assists, two blocks but also four turnovers. But Wall didn't score in the second half and only added one assist.

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Bit of chippiness: The Wizards and Mavs got into it a few times in this one, providing some entertainment in what was otherwise a dumpster fire of a game. In the third quarter we saw Bradley Beal and Dennis Smith, Jr. have words for each other:

Then we saw Salah Mejri get ejected and Kelly Oubre, Jr. wave goodbye to him:

And in the fourth Wall and Mavs point guard J.J. Barea did some jawing. The Wizards and Mavs do not appear to like each other, but Dallas continues to have the last laugh. They have swept the Wizards in seven of the last eight years.

Up next: The Wizards are off both Tuesday and Wednesday, which is not necessarily a good thing. They will have to stew on this loss for longer than usual. Their next game is Thursday night at the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on TNT, but you can catch pre- and postgame coverage on NBC Sports Washington. It all starts with Wizards HangTime at 7 p.m.

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Milwaukee Bucks fire head coach Jason Kidd, report says

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Milwaukee Bucks fire head coach Jason Kidd, report says

With the Bucks currently eighth in the Eastern Conference, Milwaukee has fired head coach Jason Kidd. Assistant coach Joe Prunty will take over in the interim.

The news was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Kidd leaves the Bucks in the middle of his fourth season with the team. He took over before the 2014-15 season and has since taken them to two playoff appearances in his three full seasons. The Bucks won just 15 games the year before Kidd took the job.

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Milwaukee was the sixth seed last season and entered this year with high expectations. With Giannis Antetokounmpo developing into an MVP candidate, eighth place in the East isn't good enough, even if that technically means they would make the playoffs if they began today.

The Bucks are 23-22 and have lost four of their last five. Since beginning the season 15-10, they have gone 8-12.

With the presence of Antetokounmpo and other talented young players like Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Jabari Parker (if he re-signs) and Khris Middleton, the future is bright in Milwaukee from a roster perspective. That makes the vacancy left behind by Kidd an attractive one for prospective coaches. 

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Regardless of what happens this summer, the Bucks' decision has major implications for the Eastern Conference in the short-term. Can Prunty, who has never been a full-time NBA head coach before, jumpstart the Bucks? Or will their struggles continue and this season be chalked up as a down year?

Teams at the top of the East wouldn't mind seeing the Bucks continue to stumble, as they proved a tough out in last year's playoffs and boast one of the best young players in the game.

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