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Markieff Morris set the tone early in Wizards' win over Hawks

Markieff Morris set the tone early in Wizards' win over Hawks

Going into Wednesday night's matchup with the Hawks, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks made a change in hopes of bringing more balance to his rotation. Through the Wizards' first three games this season, all losses, he saw subpar results from his bench. So, he decided to take starting power forward Markieff Morris and move him around, sometimes playing him alongside starters like John Wall and Bradley Beal, while other times letting him run with bench players like Tomas Satoransky and Marcus Thornton.

The Wizards' second unit had struggled on both ends of the floor and Morris' versatility, in theory, could help spark them in numerous ways. That call ultimately proved wise, as Morris set the tone for the Wizards early on with 14 points and eight boards in the first half.

"I thought tonight that decision in the second unit helped us in the first half to get a good lead. He had a good offensive game going," Brooks said.

After Brooks told Morris his idea, the Wizards big man approached Wall and Beal with some advice. 

"He came to me and Brad before the game and said y'all two just be aggressive in the first quarter," Wall said. "We knew he was going to be taken out in the first and be used a lot more in the second unit to get them some movement and somebody to throw the ball to in the post and play out of him. I think that's where he started being more aggressive."

Morris' first six points on Wednesday all came within a span of 1:41 in the second quarter. The sequence was highlighted by a fadeaway jumper after a spin move against Kris Humphries.

His best moments, however, may have come on defense where Morris was a force all night against three-time All-Star Paul Millsap. The Hawks power forward was limited to 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting.

"I thought he did a great job of competing and making him miss a lot of shots," Brooks said.

Morris also helped seal the game by contesting a Kyle Korver three-point attempt with 3.9 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. 

"The biggest play of the game was he had a great switch on Korver. And that's not easy for Kief to do, but he handled it well. He saw it and disrupted their last play. He made a great decision in staying in front of him," Brooks said.

It was a complete effort for Morris who for one night looked like the key to preventing the dropoff previously seen from the Wizards' first and second units.

[RELATED: Wizards hold out Wall for back-to-backs]

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Mystics respond to Liz Cambage's comments on social media: 'LOL'

Mystics respond to Liz Cambage's comments on social media: 'LOL'

After Game 3 of the WNBA Semifinals, Las Vegas Ace Liz Cambage did not mince words about her competition in the paint. 

In a postgame interview with ESPN2, Cambage told Kim Adams that the Washington Mystics have “small forwards guarding me. If they can’t handle it, get in the weight room or get out of the post."

Clearly that did not sit well with the Mystics players. That was evident on social media Sunday night.

Myisha Hines-Allen and Natasha Cloud jumped on the floor to show their strength.

Cloud went one step further to support her teammate LaToya Sanders. As a 6-3 center/forward Sanders, has been the main defender on the 6-8 Cambage for the series.

And Cloud also had a passive-aggressive retweet that reference's Cambage's comments.  

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough also had a laugh.

Until this series, the Mystics had kept the unstoppable Cambage at bay. All three regular-season contests the Mystics kept her to 16 points or fewer. A majority of that credit should be given to Sanders. The first two games of the series saw that flip, but still, she was nowhere near her performance in Game 3 with 28 points on 12-for-15 shooting.

If the Mystics needed any more motivation, they got it from Cambage. That is on top of them striving to get back to the WNBA Finals after falling short this year, the franchise still without a WNBA Championship, having the 2019 MVP on the roster and - as Imani pointed out on Twitter - the Mystics still have a 2-1 series lead. 

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Go-Go GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu's empathy put to test at open tryouts

Go-Go GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu's empathy put to test at open tryouts

WASHINGTON -- Capital City Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu often says one of the primary reasons he retired as a player to join the front office ranks was to bring his perspective as a journeyman pro to the GM position. He played for 18 professional teams across the NBA, G-League and overseas and was cut from quite a few of them. He once lost his job five minutes before his contract was guaranteed.

Those memories of disappointment and resolve have stuck with him to this day and he is reminded of them every time he has to cut a player. That experience makes him acutely aware of how a player feels when delivered the news.

"There is a way you can do business with honesty and integrity," he said.

That approach helped lead to a year-over-year change in the way the Go-Go held their tryouts on Saturday. Last year, Mensah-Bonsu delivered roster moves by taking players aside during scrimmages. The guys in the open morning session who were good enough to earn an invite to the closed afternoon tryout were told to stop playing and wait around.

That process led to a good deal of confusion. Some players who didn't know their fate came up and asked Mensah-Bonsu personally. He called it "heartbreaking."

So, this year he switched it up. He brought the roughly 100 players out to the main court and had them sit in the stands as he read out the jersey numbers of those who made it.

There was still some uncertainty from players about who had advanced to the second tryout. Several players pulled their jerseys off to double-check their numbers in disbelief.

Still, it was better than last year. With this being only the second season for the Go-Go and the second for Mensah-Bonsu as GM, that's all they can really ask for.

"You know how good things are in the first year by how the second year goes," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This year, we kind of knew the ropes and what to expect and how to do things. This year, we kind of hit the ground running. It was more seamless than it was last year."

Last year was unique because they had to build the team from scratch as an expansion franchise. This offseason, they were looking for fewer players overall, without the need to complete an entire roster.

The open tryouts generally bring a handful of players to the afternoon session where they then choose two to four as training camp invites. Those who are brought in for training camp then compete for roster spots on the Go-Go, which would put them one step away from the NBA.

Mensah-Bonsu said the goal was to take five or six players from the morning group. They ended up with 15, as he was once again surprised by the talent pool offered by the D.C. area.

That afternoon session, though, is a different level of basketball. There are players with decorated college careers and some with NBA resumes. Some of the invitees included Josh Selby, who played at Kansas and has 38 career NBA games under his belt, Maurice Creek (George Washington), Trey Dickerson (Georgetown) and Frank Howard (Syracuse). 

Everyone involved is chasing the NBA dream, some giving it one final shot.

"I empathize with these guys. It's not easy," Go-Go coach Ryan Richman said. "Come here, stretch, learn some plays and then play games. It's not an easy job."

It's not easy for the Go-Go staff, either, to evaluate 100 players all within a few hours. It can be confusing in its own way. And for Mensah-Bonsu, there was a moment on Saturday that was particularly disorienting.

In attendance for the morning tryout was a player named Kojo Bonsu. That's a familiar name.

"He's got the exact same name as my brother, so I looked and made sure he wasn't out there. It was eerie to see that. It's rare you see somebody with the exact same name as you or a sibling. It was interesting," Mensah-Bonsu said.

It is already hard enough for Mensah-Bonsu to make cuts. At least he didn't have to cut his brother.

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