Wizards

Quick Links

Morning tip: Markieff Morris taxes defenses that fail to account for him

Morning tip: Markieff Morris taxes defenses that fail to account for him

A day off is just what the doctor ordered for Markieff Morris, who sat out the previous game at the Brooklyn Nets to recover from a sore right calf. He responded with his best game of the season Friday vs. a more significant opponent in the Indiana Pacers.

Morris' wide-open three-pointer with 50.6 seconds left held off the last push by Paul George as the Wizards (32-21) now lead the season series 2-1 and already surpass their home win total from a season ago with 23. 

"Felt good," said Morris, who shot 11 of 18, including 3 of 6 on threes. "I had three to four days off. Made some shots."

That included a dunk off a pass from John Wall that caromed, went up in the air, came down and danced into the hoop for an 18-13 lead in the first quarter; a three-pointer for a 75-70 lead at 5:24 of the third quarter; an assist to Bradley Beal for a three-pointer and a 100-96 lead with 4:02 left; and his own three that was the capper in the final minute to help the Wizards clinch it 112-107.

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' impressive win over Pacers]

As Beal missed two free throws with the Wizards up 108-102, Morris ripped away the loose ball rebound from  Kevin Seraphin and proceeded to exchange high fives with fans on the floor before the play ended. Wall would go to the line for more free throws to extend it to a three-possession game with 30 seconds left. It was Morris' 10th rebound and the type of hustle play that has boosted them to new heights in the East.

Indiana tried to defend Morris with Lavoy Allen and he was isolated and dominated at will. Whether it was being faced up or beaten to the basket for a putback, Morris' play overode Paul George's denial defense of Beal and Otto Porter's foul trouble that neutralized the NBA's most accurate three-point shooter. 

"Since the month of January, Keef has been playing great for us," said John Wall, who had a game-high 14 assists. "When teams switch he can post up and score in the post. He's doing a great job of rebounding and defending. He's shooting the three with a lot of confidence. It's paying off for us. A lot of teams leaving him open. They're not leaving Otto and Brad as much so he's the next guy they're leaving open and he's knocking down shots for us."

Morris has had to manage his right foot and ankle issues for a bulk of the season. He initially was injured in a Nov. 19 loss to the Miami Heat when he only played nine minutes before leaving. 

Morris played after that but evetually sat out a Dec. 14 game vs. the Charlotte Hornets. They won without him just like they did in Brooklyn, but the Wizards will have difficulty overcoming Morris' absence against elite teams.

Seven of Morris' eight double-doubles have come since Jan. 8 which has been key to the hot streak that rocketed the Wizards from the bottom of the East into third place. 

He had 24 points and 15 rebounds early in the season in a loss to the Chicago Bulls; 23 and 9 in a win over the L.A. Clippers; 20 and 10 in a win vs. the Milwaukee Bucks;1 7 and 13 in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers; 17 and 12 in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies; 19 and 11 in a win over the Boston Celtics; 21 and eight in beating the New Orleans Pelicans; and 24 and 10 in a rout of the N.Y. Knicks. 

"I just had some fresh legs. Made some shots. John put me in great postion to make some plays," Morris said. "And Beal draws a lot of attention... I had the energy."

[RELATED: Markieff Morris not cool with 'Phoenix Outlaws' nickname]

Quick Links

NBA Draft 2018: Jerome Robinson likes potential fit with the Wizards

jerome_robinson_usat.jpg
USA Today Sports

NBA Draft 2018: Jerome Robinson likes potential fit with the Wizards

With the No. 15 pick in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards could go any number of different ways Thursday night.

They could bolster their frontcourt and select a big man. They could draft an uber-athletic wing and move more toward positionless basketball. Or the Wizards could take a guard to help build depth in the backcourt behind John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Enter Jerome Robinson, a three-year player at Boston College who led the ACC in three-point percentage and was second in scoring last season. He had a private workout with the Wizards on Wednesday morning, and got the chance to showcase the skill that earned him First Team All-ACC honors during his junior season.

In Washington, Robinson has the opportunity to come in without needing to be a difference-maker right away. He'd primarily be the backup shooting guard behind Beal and could push to see some minutes at the three when the Wizards go small. Though he was the go-to guy in college, he sounded ready to play alongside two stars in Washington.

"They’ve got two All-Star caliber players at the one and the two and I can also be a contributor with those guys as well," Robinson said after his workout. "[They have] a great offense and great defense as well. Also a great coach and front office."

Robinson was the only player to work out for the Wizards on Wednesday, so showing the team what he can do on the court was easy, but it wasn't the only area that drew his focus. He didn't meet with the Wizards at the NBA Combine in Chicago, so the visit also served as an introductory meeting between Robinson and team personnel, he said.

"I’m just coming in and showing them the kind of person that I am. Talking to these guys is important," Robinson said.

Over his three years at Boston College, Robinson turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter and improved in almost every major statistical category. A 40.9 percent three-point shooter as a junior, Robinson brought his average up almost seven percentage points from his sophomore season, when he shot 33.3 percent from deep. He also boosted his field goal percentage from 42.9 to 48.5 percent and his free throw percentage from 64.3 to 83 percent.

The numbers are a testament to his dedication to his craft, but also are evidence of his grasp of the game and how he fits into it. It's one thing in particular he wanted to show the Wizards.

"Just my understanding of the game. I think that’s what’s big and I think that’s something that fits into the NBA seamlessly for me," Robinson said. "Playing the right way and showing them what kind of player I am is what I go in and try to do."

There's no telling exactly which way the Wizards will go Thursday night, but if they end up picking Robinson, there may be an early level of comfort as both he and Wall are from Raleigh, North Carolina.

"It would be awesome to play with another guy from Raleigh," Robinson said. "We’ve got that same kind of grit. You’ve seen what he’s done so far and I think it would be exciting to play with him."

From Capital One Arena, he'll travel to New York to be there for draft night. Maybe by the end of the night, he'll be walking around with a Wizards hat on his head.

MORE WIZARDS COVERAGE:

Quick Links

Chris Paul is reportedly recruiting LeBron James to the Rockets, which would change East dramatically

usatsi_10584651.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Chris Paul is reportedly recruiting LeBron James to the Rockets, which would change East dramatically

Next to actually signing LeBron James himself, there is another scenario involving the NBA's best player that should sound great to Eastern Conference teams. That is if James decides to leave the conference altogether for a team in the West, and it sounds like Chris Paul is trying to make that dream come true.

Paul, according to ESPN, is actively recruiting James to join the Houston Rockets. The Rockets won an NBA-best 65 games in the 2017-18 season and fell one win short of reaching the NBA Finals.

Here is what Adrian Wojnarowski said as transcribed by Pro Basketball Talk:

Chris is going to return there. And listen, right now, Chris Paul’s focus isn’t so much on his own free agency. He’s trying to recruit LeBron James to Houston, and somebody close to him said to me he is as focused on recruiting LeBron as anything he’s done in this league. He wants to find a way.

There's no doubt Houston would give James an opportunity to contend and maybe even win championships. They were up 3-2 on the Warriors in the conference finals before losing the final two games. Paul missed the last two games of the series due to injury.

If the Rockets were that close without James, adding him would likely push them over the hump. Even with the Warriors being as good as they are, the Rockets would be a super team on a level rarely seen in NBA history. James and Rockets guard James Harden are the two frontrunners for MVP. Then there's Paul, a perennial All-NBA guard who is a surefire Hall of Famer once his playing days are over.

If James went West, that would break the streak of his teams winning the Eastern Conference playoff bracket eight years in a row. The conference would be more wide open than it has been in nearly a decade, giving teams like the Sixers, Celtics, Raptors, Wizards and others a better shot at reaching the Finals.

One alternative is James leaving Cleveland to form another titan within the East. That could happen if he goes to Philly or Boston or somewhere else with some pieces already in place. It's conceivable that James stays in the East and does so with a team that is much better than the Cavs squad he led to the Finals this past season.

On the face of it, James would probably be smart to not go to Houston. As good as the Rockets are and as stacked as they would be if he joined them, he would then subject himself to battling the Warriors in the conference finals or earlier. If winning is his No. 1 goal, he is better off continuing to dominate the East and focus on improving his chances of beating the Warriors once he sees them in the Finals.

Still, Paul can dream. And if James does go West, no one in the East will complain.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!