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Morning tip: Morris takes matchups 'personal' with likes of Kristaps Porzingis

Morning tip: Morris takes matchups 'personal' with likes of Kristaps Porzingis

The difference that Markieff Morris makes for the Wizards, despite a record that suggests it's not big enough, can be seen in how he handled Kristaps Porzingis in the 119-112 win over the New York Knicks. He unnerved him just as he did Paul Millsap in their first win of the season over the Atlanta Hawks. 

The Wizards (3-8) don't have any issues defending stretch fours anymore because of Morris. Regardless of what his stat line read -- eight points on 4-for-11 shooting and eight rebounds against New York -- he's a much better option than Kris Humphries or Jared Dudley from year ago. 

"We needed this win bad so we came out and played like we needed it," Morris said. "Just be physical. Take it personal. Every time I step on the court, I'm taking it personal. I'm just not going to let guys go out there and do what they want to do agaisnt me. We needed this win bad and we got it."

At 6-10, Morris has enough size to defend the position under the basket against more physical fours and agile enough to step away from the rim on smaller ones. He also can flash the occasional three-point shot to spread out the opponents' defense.

Millsap had been a thorn in the Wizards' side for years, but Morris held him to 5-for-14 shooting when they won for the first time. Porzingis had scored 35 points the previous night for the Knicks, but that wasn't happening. 

Morris prevented Porzingis from getting the ball where he wanted, fighting him off the block for position and turning to his right shoulder. 

"I'm just playing the scouting report," Morris said. "He's a great player. He has a lot of different dimensions in his game. Quite hoenstly I'm just taking it personal. It's not going to be an easy matchup (for him)."

The Wizards dealt a first-round draft pick in 2016 to the Phoenix Suns for Morris, and it has been one well-spent. They went from being at the bottom of the table in rebounding last season when they were 41-41 to sixth. With Morris entrenched all of this season, the Wizards are no longer getting pounded inside.

"Point-blank, period, guarding Millsap, guarding those guys, he can guard one-on-one without us having to white (double team), leaving wide-open shooters," point guard John Wall said of Morris' value that doesn't always register in a boxscore. "He does a great job of just being physical with guys. When he's not getting in foul trouble he does a great job of staying between them and the basket."

When the Wizards went south in Philadelphia, a 109-102 loss to the league's worst team Wednesdady, Morris picked up two fouls in the first 54 seconds. When they made a run from 24 down, it was with Morris stretching to the three-point line to spark the comeback that fell short. 

The one player in the locker room who keeps a constant edge and doesn't hide it, Morris wasn't pleased with how the game ended. The Knicks scored 47 points in the fourth quarter to give themselves a chance in a game they trailed by as much as 27.

"We gave up 47 in the fourth? That's unacceptable," Morris said. "We're a lot better than that."

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win vs. Knicks]

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Watch Rui Hachimura’s shutdown block

Watch Rui Hachimura’s shutdown block

Rui Hachimura continued his dominance in international friendlies Saturday as he put up 31 points and five rebounds in a winning effort over Germany.

After a highlight-reel performance in Thursday's loss to Argentina, Hachimura was back at it two days later.

That block at the 37-second mark is just filthy. It would also be goaltending in the NBA, but FIBA rules allow players to touch the ball at pretty much any time once it's made contact with some part of the hoop. Nevertheless, the athleticism to make this play is what stands out.

But Hachimura wasn't finished.

He looks more like Steph Curry leading that breakaway, dribbling behind his back and finishing at the rim himself than a 6-foot-8 forward.

With the international friendly schedule at its end, Japan will tip off the 2020 FIBA World Cup on Sunday, Sept. 1 against Turkey. After a matchup with the Czech Republic, Hachimura and Japan will take on his future NBA opponents when they face the United States on Sept. 5.


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Maryland native Quinn Cook tells the behind-the-scenes story of his road to the Lakers

Maryland native Quinn Cook tells the behind-the-scenes story of his road to the Lakers

Before he joined the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a blockbuster summer that saw them land Anthony Davis, before he won the NBA Finals as a role player with the Golden State Warriors, and before he averaged double-digit scoring and won the NCAA tournament at Duke, Quinn Cook was a star point guard at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md.

Cook was in town this week for his fourth annual youth basketball camp at First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Landover. NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller sat down with the former Stag, who he’s known since the now-Lakers guard was 14 years old, on the Wizards Talk podcast.

Miller talked with Cook about why he feels connected to kids in the local community and what it was like losing his father as a teenager. One of his closest friends is fellow DeMatha product Victor Oladipo, who helped him get through the loss of his father Ted when he died suddenly in 2008 after going into a coma following a colon procedure.

“My best friend Norman and Victor, their parents took them out of school, and they were with me for two weeks,” Cook said. “At the funeral, [head coach Mike] Jones had the entire DeMatha basketball program…come to the funeral and all sit together [with] their uniforms on.”

Cook also went on to talk about his time at Duke, the viral video in which he convinced some people at the mall he was J Cole and his obsession with winning before going into how he landed in Los Angeles this offseason.

“When Golden State withdrew their qualifying offer, I became unrestricted and had some teams call me and the Lakers thing, it just happened quick,” Cook said. “I had talks with them, AD called me, [LeBron James] called Rob Palinka for me, and Coach K called them, talked to Bron and stuff and we got it done.”

Check out the full podcast below and listen to Miller talk hoops every week on the Wizards Talk podcast.