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Wizards angry over perceived stat-stuffing by Giannis

Wizards angry over perceived stat-stuffing by Giannis

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.”

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' comeback win vs. Bucks]

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Raptors GM Masai Ujiri on staying in Toronto: 'In my mind, I'm here'

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri on staying in Toronto: 'In my mind, I'm here'

Just a few weeks ago, the Masai Ujiri-to-D.C. movement was gaining steam quickly. Just moments after Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors began celebrating their NBA Championship, reports began to swirl that the Wizards were prepared to aggressively pursue the GM.

Sources told NBC Sports Washington that there could be the possibility of a sort of mega-deal that went beyond just giving him control of the Wizards. But Wizards owner Ted  Leonsis denied earlier this month that the team had reached out, saying that "we have never planned in any way to ask for permission to speak to him during our process."

And on Tuesday, Uriji seemed to make it official that he will stay in Toronto.

"I love it here, my family loves it here. My wife loves it here, which is very important. My kids are Canadians. You want to win more, for me," Ujiri said on Tuesday during his end-of-season press conference.

"Yeah, I can continue to address teams wanting me and all those things. That's a blessing in life," Ujiri said. "For me the blessing is being wanted here and finding a place that makes you happy, and finding challenges that really make you grow as a person. This place has made me grow as a person."

"I identify with this place and I love it. So in my mind, I'm here."

On paper, Ujiri and the Wizards looked to be a good match. Washington could offer him money and control, while also allowing him to work with his "Basketball without Borders" program in D.C.

As NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh explained recently, the Raptors late-season championship run could have messed up the timing and situation that could have lured Ujiri to a new team.

The Wizards made it through the NBA Draft without a new GM, but as July and free agency approach, the search may continue to ramp up.

The answer is still out there, it just may not be Masai Ujiri anymore.

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Bradley Beal on Wizards draftee Rui Hachimura: 'He's a monster'

Bradley Beal on Wizards draftee Rui Hachimura: 'He's a monster'

The Wizards added two pieces during the 2019 NBA Draft that franchise expects to be vital pieces of their future in Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura at No. 9 and Tennessee's Admiral Schofield at No. 42

Before Monday night's 2018-19 NBA Awards ceremony, NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller caught up with the two faces of the franchise, Bradley Beal and John Wall, to see what they thought of the new additions to the squad.

Beal had high praise for Hachimura.

"I didn't know much," Beal said on what he knew about the Gonzaga product prior to the draft. "But from what I've seen watching the draft and things I've seen pre-draft and things like that, he's a monster."

The praise did not stop there. 

"He plays hard, extremely hard," Beal said. "Hopefully, he can have an impact right away." 

While an immediate impact would be beneficial for a Wizards team that could use Hachimura's scoring (he averaged 19.7 points per game at Gonzaga), Beal understands that Hachimura is still a very raw player. After all, he's only been playing basketball for eight years.

"But at the same time, we want him to grow," Beal said on Hachimura. "We know he hasn't been playing too long. But that's something we can build off of and mold him into the player we need him to be. He has tremendous upside, and I'm excited to get going. Hopefully, come September, October he's ready to go."

While Beal may not have known too much about Hachimura, he had followed the other Wizards draft pick, Admiral Schofield, for quite some time. 

"I love his game; I loved him in college," Beal said on Schofield. 

Beal joked about Schofield's body type, wondering whether basketball is the sport the Wizards second-round pick should be playing.

"He's got a football body. He's built like a tight end, wide receiver," Beal said. "I'm definitely happy that we have him, a fellow SEC guy. Him and [Jordan] McRae are going to hit it off. He can shoot, he's athletic, so I'm definitely excited to have him as well."

While Wall did not go into as much detail as Beal about the Wizards draft class, he was just as excited about the two new additions.

"I think it's good," Wall said. "We added some pieces [in the draft], [we'll] see what we do in free agency to add some guys to bring back or we're going to go after somebody new. I think we'll be fine."

According to head coach Scott Brooks, both Beal and Wall can identify talent very well

"The thing I love about John and Brad: they love the game," Brooks said last week. "You can call them up, there could be high school players, WNBA players, it could be college players, it could be European players, they know them."

"It's like, 'don't you guys have a life?'" Brooks joked.

Wall spent most of his time with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller discussing his Achilles rehab, where he revealed he is going to begin jogging soon. That's a good sign for the Wizards, even though Wall s expected to miss the majority of the 2019-2020 season.

In Hachimura and Schofield, the Wizards got two pieces that are not expected to contribute right away, but also potentially have the ability to do so. Earning high praise from the two most important players on the Wizards' roster is a good start for both of the Wizards 2019 NBA Draft selections. 

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