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Markieff Morris heard Paul Millsap's comments, is prepared for 'double MMA' in Wizards-Hawks

Markieff Morris heard Paul Millsap's comments, is prepared for 'double MMA' in Wizards-Hawks

Markieff Morris and John Wall read what Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard said about the Wizards' physical style of play and each issued a response through the media at Wednesday morning's shootaround ahead of Game 2 [6 p.m. on CSN] of their first round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.

Morris, for one, had plenty to say about Millsap's assertion the Wizards were "playing MMA."

"If that's MMA, then what we do next might be double-MMA from what I heard," he said. 

He brought up the MMA three more times during his media scrum:

1) "I'm a big MMA fan."

2) "We're going to stay physical and stay playing MMA basketball."

3) "I guess if we're playing MMA, they're giving them all the fouls."

[RELATED: Wizards not buying Paul Millsap's MMA remark]

Wall also invoked MMA when asked if the Wizards could be even more physical in Game 2.

"Yeah, totally. Come on. We shot 17 free throws and they had 39. If we were playing MMA, it looked like they got most of the calls. We didn't," he said.

Both Morris and Wall referenced quotes from this article on CSN, where Millsap said he wasn't worried about Morris, or Marcin Gortat, that he wanted to focus on stopping Wall and Bradley Beal. Millsap suggested that Morris and Gortat can't hurt them as much as the Wizards' backcourt stars.

Morris didn't like that.

"I heard Millsap saying that they don't want Brad and John to score as much, that they want to let us score, basically. We're going to adjust to that real well," he said.

The part Wall mentioned was Howard saying he wanted to give it back to the Wizards and play with more contact.

"I see what Dwight said that they wanted to play more physical, well we want to play more physical," Wall said. "They shot more free throws than us. We thought we were being the physical team and attacking the basket. If they feel like we were playing like that, that's the way we've gotta play for the rest of the series."

Millsap also said he thinks Morris is trying to trap him into making the series about the two of them. Morris doesn't buy the theory.

"It ain't between me and him. I guess that's how he wants to take it," he said.

All of this is happening and only one game has been played in the series. 

[RELATED: Oubre on Morris vs. Millsap: 'Keef is better than him']

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A revitalized DeMarcus Cousins poses the most unique challenge of Thomas Bryant’s young career

A revitalized DeMarcus Cousins poses the most unique challenge of Thomas Bryant’s young career

The Golden State Warriors, it's probably safe to say, present a unique challenge defensively. They have two MVPs and five All-NBA selections. If you ask Scott Brooks, they have six future Hall of Famers, including Andre Iguodala off the bench.

With DeMarcus Cousins now in the fold, the Warriors can roll out a five-man lineup of guys who can put the ball on the floor and shoot from the outside. Long range shooting for them, of course, has a different meaning than other teams. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant are deadly from 30 feet, and sometimes beyond. 

As a team, the Warriors shoot 39 percent from the perimeter on 33.5 attempts per game. Stopping them is a gargantuan task, but the Wizards will give it a shot on Thursday night with an 8 p.m. tipoff set for national TV on TNT.

The Warriors' ability to spread the floor and move the ball from shooter to shooter with unrivaled range is difficult to keep up with, not only for the wing defenders chasing them around. It will also present a unique challenge for Wizards center Thomas Bryant, who at 21 years old and in his second season will be new to it all.

Bryant has only played the Warriors once in his career. That was earlier this season, with the Wizards on Oct. 24. He logged nine minutes, but those were late in a 22-point blowout loss. The game occurred about a month before he was promoted to the starting lineup.

It may seem counterintuitive that Bryant, a big man, will be one to watch as the Wizards battle a team tailored for the perimeter. But he will have plenty of responsibility on the backline of Washington's defense. 

"He has to be a quarterback," Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. "He has to talk. Their bigs, they hand the ball off a lot and we'll be switching tomorrow. He has to make sure he's able to guard Steph, Klay, K.D. at times. He's going to be switched out to guys. Making it difficult for them with his length and playing with energy, that's what we need."

Bryant, indeed, could very easily find himself on an island at the three-point line, tasked momentarily to stay in front of Curry, for instance. The Warriors will do their best to find mismatches, and they are good at getting them.

Bryant has quick feet and long arms that suggest he can guard in space, but doesn't do a ton of perimeter duty for the Wizards. He is 85th among centers in contested threes per 36 minutes. Usually, he stays home around the rim.

However, he'll almost certainly have to venture out against Golden State, even if he is trailing Cousins. Last season, when he was healthy, Cousins averaged 6.1 three-point attempts per game. This season, through two games back from Achilles surgery, he has taken 40 percent of his shots beyond 16 feet.

"They put so much pressure on you defensively that all five guys need to be on-point," Brooks said. "A lot of times in transition, Thomas is going to be guarding smaller guys because they're coming at you all over the floor. You have to be able to manage that and guard that."

Bryant will get his chance against the Warriors, but the leash could end up being short. Brooks has the option to go small with Jeff Green at center. He could favor a lineup with Green in the middle alongside Trevor Ariza and Otto Porter Jr. at forward and Beal and Tomas Satoransky at guard. That would maximize their ability to switch.

Bryant, though, will start. Whether he stays on the floor could depend on how he fares defending outside shots, which he hasn't done a whole of this season.


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DeMatha alum and Pacers star Victor Oladipo stretchered off with scary leg injury

USA Today Sports

DeMatha alum and Pacers star Victor Oladipo stretchered off with scary leg injury

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers lost All-Star guard Victor Oladipo with an apparent right leg injury in the second quarter of Wednesday night's game against Toronto.

Trainers quickly put a towel over the leg and players from both teams surrounded Oladipo as he lay on the floor. Fans gave him a standing ovation as he was carted off the floor on a stretcher.

The injury occurred when Oladipo fell awkwardly while trying to defend an outlet pass to Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, who landed on top of Oladipo with 4:05 to go.

Oladipo made his first All-Star Game last season after being acquired in the trade for Paul George. He is the Pacers' top scorer this season at 19.2 points per game.