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Markieff Morris demands better focus from Wizards -- and himself

Markieff Morris demands better focus from Wizards -- and himself

TORONTO -- The discipline that the Wizards lacked in their two losses out of the All-Star break came to the forefront in their latest two victories. Markieff Morris, stroking his chin and cracking a smile, knew not to overreact because it's an 82-game season with lots of ebbs and flows.

"Same team. Ain't (expletive) change. You don't make judgment off of two games," said Morris, who had 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists in Wedneday's 105-96 wipeout of the Toronto Raptors. "Like I've said, Philly was a trap game. Not taking nothing away from Philly. Fresh off the break, they're playing balls-out hard. We were still in it and had a chance to win it. In the second game, Utah just beat our ass. They were just more prepared than we were."

The Wizards (36-23) have stacked two impressive victories, including over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, to erase the taste of their second loss this season to the Sixers.

They had a focus that was absent when they botched rotations on the perimeter, allowed dribble pentration and failed to make the extra efforts to protect the rim. It wasn't one player at fault but multiple ones.

Wednesday, they disrupted DeMar DeRozan as he had 24 points on just 7-for-20 shooting for Toronto. He didn't make his first shot until 4:20 remained in the first quarter on a post-up of the smaller Bradley Beal, but that was easy as his looks would come.

"It's hard to contest his shot because he has a high release and he's so athletic. He has a great shot fake before and after the dribble," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought we did as well as we could possibly do. We haven't particularly played him well. ... Our guys did a good job of staying engaged. Our switches were good."

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Kelly Oubre would come in late in the first and force DeRozan into a miss on a drive with his 7-2 wingspan. He then harrassed him beyond the three-point line and drew a charge. DeRozan isn't a three-point shooter and he also is a master at the pump fake to get defenders out of position and on his hip. That's how he lives at the free-throw line to supplement his offense. 

When Morris covered DeRozan on switches, he forced him to try to shoot over his 6-10 frame, not allowing him into the lane by biting those up-fakes. 

"We're almost at the point where if you know what a guy's doing and you bite for that pump fake, you got to pay a fine," Morris said. "That's the type of level we're trying to get to. Guys know their assignments, what exactly he's going to do because it's going to be like that in the playoffs once we get there.

Morris only drew two fouls. He was in foul trouble vs. the Sixers and the Jazz. In the latter, he was ejected after he was assessed a technical for arguing a call and throwing the ball. That also cost him a $25,000 fine from the league. He had a flagrant 1 earlier in the game because he was frustrated by a no-call when he was shoved in the lower back by Jazz forward Derrick Favors. 

"I hate to be scored on," said Morris, who had a season-high four blocks on Golden State and then became a set-up man with his ball distribution Wednesday. "I'm being selfish if I take fouls that's going to get me out the game so I'm just trying to get better with that."

[RELATED: VIDEO: DNC chair makes Wizards joke about Trump]

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Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

A couple of weeks ago, John Wall was spotted at a Washington Mystics game with no brace to support his Achilles injury, a sign that his rehab from the injury was moving in the right direction. 

On Monday night at the 2019 NBA Awards, the Wizards point guard gave affirmation that he is indeed continuing to get healthier and stronger.

"I feel great, man," Wall told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the red carpet. "I'm doing a great job with my body, taking care of that."

Specifically, Wall has been able to slowly increase what he can do on his legs. The recovery and rehab for an injury as severe as his is a long road, and the point guard is making sure not to speed up the process and risk hindering the progress. However, he's about to reach a pretty big milestone in the journey during the coming weeks.

"I'm about to start jogging in like two weeks. Just riding the bike, I get to do exercises standing up now, so I don't have to sit down. I'm able to move, do ladder steps, doing those types of things," Wall said. "Just taking my time and progressing and letting everything heal the right way so I don't force myself back and get another injury."

As Wall continues to work to get back on the court, he's had plenty of motivational factors pushing him through some grueling months. His recent string of injuries have left some wondering if he'll still be an elite player when he finally.

He's heard those comments and he's using them to his advantage.

"I'm one of those guys that's very driven by all the hate and all the negative talk I'm getting. Keep it going," Wall said.

"Everybody said I can't be myself, I won't be nowhere near as good again. That's all the other stuff that's going to fuel me. I don't get upset about it, you're entitled to your own opinion. Please keep it going."

The haters have given Wall some extra juice, but so has his son Ace. Spending the offseason getting right has allowed Wall to work in another area of life: fatherhood.

The newest addition to his family has taken his desire for greatness to new heights.

"I've always had that drive that I want to be the greatest. To have a son like that, that's watching everything I can do. Even though he doesn't understand what's going on, he's putting memories in his head," Wall said. 

"So that gives me extra, extra motivation to another level I never thought I could. Like I said before, that's the best blessing a man could ever ask for is to have a son."

While Wall's offseason has been a busy one as he juggles rehab and being a dad, he's still been very involved in everything going on inside the franchise.

He's already chatted with first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura, and is excited for what is to come for the Wizards. Wall is also hoping that Hachimura will help improve his Japanese so that he can grow a larger following internationally. 

As the calendar slowly turns to July, both Wall and the Wizards' offseasons will ramp up. It's been an up and down time for both lately, but he's excited about the future.

"I think it's good," Wall said about the Wizards situation. "We added some pieces. See what we do in free agency to add some guys to bring back or we're going to go after somebody new. I think we'll be fine."

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Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

While he was putting together the best season of his career, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal was also making a profound impact off the court and those efforts have earned him a significant honor, the NBA's 2018-19 Community Assist Award.

The news was revealed at Monday's NBA Awards in Santa Monica, CA as Beal got the nod over nine other finalists. He is the second Wizards player to win the honor in just the last four years following John Wall in 2015-16.

Beal was involved in a variety of charitable efforts this past season. He has partnered with the Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Northeast Washington to help underprivileged youth. He visited the school in December and gave out shoes.

During the All-Star break in February, as he made his second appearance in the annual showcase, Beal handed out meals at a food bank alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This past year he also gave out Christmas presents in the Washington area and took a group of kids on a tour of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

Beal was named a finalist for the Community Assist Award in April along with Jarrett Allen (Nets), Mike Conley (Jazz), Khris Middleton (Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Dwight Powell (Mavs) and Pascal Siakam (Raptors). Part of the criteria was based on fan voting through social media that was held from April 24 through May 25.

Beal, 25, continues to ascend on the court as well. This year he posted career-highs in points (25.6/g), assists (5.5/g) and rebounds (5.0/g). He nearly made All-NBA in late May with the most votes of any guard that was left out.

In Beal and Wall, the Wizards have quite the combination. Both have been All-Stars on the court and now both can say they won the NBA's top honor for charity work as well.

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