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Morning tip: Morris can be most difficult Wizards player to figure out

Morning tip: Morris can be most difficult Wizards player to figure out

If push comes to shove, Markieff Morris won't have a problem doing the shoving. Giannis Antetokounmpo found that out the hard way, and Wizards coach Scott Brooks wants to see more of it.

But the forward who posted 23 points and nine rebounds in an upset over the L.A.Clippers on Dec. 18 didn't resurface until Monday, when he had 18 points in a late comeback from 10 points down to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 107-102.

"We definitely know that he plays better when he has that edge. Maybe I should pick a pregame fight with him every game," said Brooks, after Morris had set the tone for a physical game in which he had bad blood with Antetokounmpo and Matthew Dellavedova. "When he has that edge he's much better. He has to be able to start the game that way."

For Morris, who has had trouble avoiding fouls, a lot has to do with whistles. He has had to sit early because of cheap ones on reach-ins.  If he's allowed to assert himself, he can be more effective but he also has to use better judgment and adjust to game officials.

"With some guys, you're allowed to play with that edge," Morris said about game officials after Tuesday's practice. "Some games you aren't. It was one of those games we needed that edge to win."

Following the win vs. L.A. Morris had just six points on 2-for-9 shooting in a 107-105 loss to the Indiana Pacers. He only had eight in a 107-97 win over the Chicago Bulls. 

What makes Morris so valuable is that he can defend traditional bigs at power forward and step away from the rim to compete with "stretch" types at the four spot. He will fall asleep when defending off ball, which is how Jabari Parker had such a good outing in the Wizards' 27-point loss to Milwaukee on Friday. His rebounding average could be higher (5.7).

Morris hit the go-ahead shot in Monday's rematch with the Bucks for a 99-98 lead the Wizards never trailed again. John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter did everything else. 

"Offensively he can score in different areas from the floor. Defensively he has some challenging moments beause he's guarding players he's not used to guarding," said Brooks of Morris, who didn't have as much experience playing this way during his first four-plus years with the Phoenix Suns. "The shooting fours are a thing that's here. It's not going anywhere. He's going to have to continue to improve and always know where his man is and be able to close all the way out to the three-point shooters. When he plays with that edge we're a much better team."

Skillwise, Morris is the Wizards' third-best player. They call isos for him in the low post and even away from the basket. They rely on him more in these sets than Porter who does his best work moving without the ball. Morris' passing ability is an underrated part of his game, too. 

"When I caught it in the post they were doubling me, too. I was just cutting it in the right spots, finding the right spots to get open. It was just one of those games," Morris said of the Bucks. "They were loading up a lot on Brad."

He feels like they owe the Pacers who escaped with a win that shouldn't have been. It'll be clear immediately if Morris brings that same attitude for tonight's game at Verizon Center. 

"We got to get this one, just like the Milwaukee game." he said. "Sometimes you got to get the ball in your hands to make those plays."

That means he wants to be involved in the offense more early. The Pacers could have their hands full much like the Bucks.

"He has that mind-set, he has that killer instinct," Beal said. "If you're his teammate, he's rocking with you. If you're on the other team he's all against you. That's the guy you always want to have around you. He lit a fire under everybody."

[RELATED: Film study: How Wall, Beal get everyone else open]

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Mike Scott's season...

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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Markieff Morris is helping his brother gameplan to defend LeBron James

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Markieff Morris is helping his brother gameplan to defend LeBron James

Wizards forward Markieff Morris is all-in on his brother Marcus and the Boston Celtics beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Not only is he showing up to games in his twin brother's jersey, he is helping Marcus break down film on LeBron James.

James was held to just 15 points on 31.3 percent shooting with seven turnovers in Game 1 and Marcus got some credit for stopping him. In the two games since, James went off for 42 and 27 points, each time posting 12 assists to complement. Though Cleveland lost Game 2 as well, they punched back with a 30-point win in Game 3.

The Morrises are combining forces to make sure that doesn't happen again, according to Jay King of The Athletic. They stayed up until 2 a.m. on Sunday morning reviewing plays. 

Game 4 between the Cavs and Celtics is on Monday night. If Boston wins, they will take a 3-1 lead in the series, which will be very difficult for the Cavs to overcome. Yes, they mounted the most famous 3-1 comeback in NBA history, but this isn't the same Cavs team that accomplished the feat in 2016.

There is of course some irony in Markieff helping the Celtics, given he was so integral in the rivalry between the Wizards and Boston. But, as he has shown many times over the years, it's family over everything.

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