The shove Markieff Morris had on Giannis Antetokounmpo late in the fourth quarter to negate an extra possession had to do with more than just that moment in Monday’s game.
It was personal. Morris isn’t fond of the Milwaukee Bucks. Neither are his teammates who still smarted after a 27-point loss in their meeting before the Christmas holiday.
Anteotokounmpo scored a career-high 39 points. Seven of them were scored in the fourth quarter, when Wizards coach Scott Brooks didn’t play any of his starters in a game they trailed 100-78 after three quarters.
“We felt like they whooped us badly but also you’re just up 20 or 30 points, keeping your star player in trying to get his numbers we kind of didn’t like that. We took that personal,” said John Wall, who had 18 points and a season-high 16 assists. “We didn’t have (anything) written on the board. We didn’t say too much. It was a lot more chippie, a lot more trash-talking than it was in the past. As long as we got the win, we’re fine.”
This time, the 6-10 forward/guard for the Bucks had 22 points, but only six of them came after halftime. The Wizards erased a 10-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter to pull out a 107-102 victory.
Otto Porter isn’t noted for his physical style of play but he had a lot to do with it. He had game-highs of 32 points and 13 rebounds.
“We didn’t want Christmas to be over like that and for them to beat us like that,” Porter said in reference to the 123-96 loss at Bradley Center. “We just wanted to take care of home.”
Antetokounmpo only attempted one shot in the fourth quarter when he played seven minutes and that was a dunk with 22.8 seconds left.
Morris' shove with a forearm to his rib cage came during a 15-2 run with the Wizards trailing 96-92 with 5:38 left. Anteotokounmpo plowed over Wizards assistant coach Sidney Lowe as a result.
“We already knew our mind-set was locked into the game,” said Bradley Beal, who had 22 points. “We knew that we wanted to get them back and do whatever it takes to do so.”
Morris had words with Matthew Dellavedova and a spat with Antetokounmpo in Friday’s loss. He responded with 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting.
Two minutes after the no-call foul on Morris, the Wizards were ahead 99-98 and never looked back. It was Morris' 16-foot jumper that put them over the top.
“You never want to do anything dirty to the players. He’s a great player and he dominated us last game and all you could do was respect it,” Wall said of Antetokounmpo. “We just wanted to be more physical and not let him get easy lanes to the basket and be able to do what he wanted to. We just wanted to make sure guys were feeling him.”