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Markieff Morris on his slump after the All-Star break, looking ahead to first playoffs

Markieff Morris on his slump after the All-Star break, looking ahead to first playoffs

For some players, the first NBA playoff game they participate in is the first they have ever attended. Many players did not grow up around cities with NBA teams and others never made it to one for various reasons. 

Not Markieff Morris of the Wizards, who last year sat courtside for the Detroit Pistons' first round matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was there to support his twin brother, Marcus, and even donned a No. 13 Pistons jersey in the crowd. To accessorize, he wore a hat with the initials F.O.E., or 'Family Over Everything.' 

This year it will be Markieff's turn to go to the playoffs and participate for the first time in his six-year NBA career. He's thrilled about the opportunity for himself, but also his family.

"I'm excited for my family," he said. "It would mean a lot. I got a chance to watch my brother play in the playoffs last year for the first time. It was an unbelievable atmosphere and I was so happy for him. I just want to get out there and experience it with my family."

Morris, 27, remembers the atmosphere at The Palace of Auburn Hills last spring and is looking forward to a similar environment at the Verizon Center in just a few weeks.

"It was crazy, man. It was like being back at Kansas. It almost felt like I was playing," he said.

Morris and the Wizards have 11 games left before the playoffs begin and there are still plenty of things to sort out, both in terms of playoff seeding and within the team itself.  For Morris, he is trying to get back to being the player he was before the All-Star break.

In 25 games from Dec. 26 until the break, Morris averaged 17.2 points and eight rebounds on 49.2 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent from three. In the 14 games since returning, Morris has put up 11.3 points and 6.1 rebounds, shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from three.

That's a major difference and some of it has to do with Morris dealing with a sinus infection to varying degrees for weeks. 

"I have been sick. But sometimes you just have those bad games," Morris said. "My intensity hasn't changed. I'm still the same player. We've got a couple new guys. We've been trying to adjust those guys to the team. But other than that, I'm the same player with the same intensity. I'm just trying to get ready for the playoffs."

The Wizards can clinch a playoff spot on Friday night with a win over the Nets and a loss for the Pistons, who play the Magic. Pretty soon it will be official that Markieff is going to the playoffs for the first time.

[RELATED: John Wall questionable for Friday night's game vs. Brooklyn Nets]

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Rui Hachimura was a star in Vegas, earning All-NBA Summer League Second Team honors

Rui Hachimura was a star in Vegas, earning All-NBA Summer League Second Team honors

Welcome to the Wizards Rui Hachimura.

In his first action as a Washington Wizard, the first-round draft pick brought home some hardware after being named to the All-NBA Summer League Second Team.

Hachimura showed out in a Summer League that was headlined by which stars were not playing on the court. In his final contest against the Atlanta Hawks, Hachimura dominated the court.

Playing a total of three games in Las Vegas, he averaged 19.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. Those stats paired with a 2-1 record in the games he played garnered the Second Team honor. 

He was joined by Chris Boucher (Toronto), Jaxson Hayes (New Orleans), Anfernee Simons (Portland) and Lonie Walker IV (San Antonio) on the Second Team. 

The Gonzaga product is looking to become the best Japanese player to step onto an NBA basketball court and, although it is a small sample size, he showed some major potential in his limited action. 

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Mystics' Kristi Toliver named WNBA All-Star reserve for a second straight year

Mystics' Kristi Toliver named WNBA All-Star reserve for a second straight year

Washington Mystics guard Kristi Toliver is a WNBA All-Star once again. 

Toliver was named an All-Star reserve on Monday as selected by the league's coaches. She joins Elena Delle Donne, who was named a captain of one of the two teams, and head coach Mike Thibault as representatives from the Mystics. 

This selection gives Toliver, 5-7, the third honor of her career and the second with Washington. Last year en route to the franchise's first WNBA Finals appearance Toliver was named an All-Star. She also got the nod in 2013 when she played with the Los Angeles Sparks. 

Through 15 games, Toliver is averaging 12.1 points and is second in the league with 5.7 assists per game, which is also on pace for a career-high.

She is shooting at a career-best .497 clip and is looking as explosive as ever at 32-years-old. With her and Delle Donne, the Mystics are 9-6 and second in the Eastern Conference.

In the offseason, Toliver is also an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards. Often she worked on the player development side of the staff and closely with Bradley Beal. 

Delle Donne will have the first choice of selection in the All-Star game draft. As a reserve, Toliver cannot be selected until after the starters are chosen. 

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