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Associated Press

Markieff Morris on Wizards’ Game 2: “We’re not playing tough enough”

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That the Washington Wizards had a shot to win Game 2 in Boston at the end of regulation was due to three key things. First, Isaiah Thomas played a game for the ages. Second, John Wall was brilliant for three quarters, until he ran out of gas (they asked him to guard Isaiah Thomas on one end and carry the offense on the other).

Third was Markieff Morris, who felt like the emotional leader of the team trying to rally the troops.

Playing on a severely sprained ankle, Morris had 16 points, six rebounds, one blocked shot, and one toss of Al Horford into the front row. On a night a lot of the Wizards players seemed dazed and confused, Morris brought it. Hard. And after the game, he was frustrated more guys didn’t bring that same passion, as he told J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com.

“We’re not playing tough enough. We had the advantage late in the game and all we had to do is play tough. We didn’t have to make shots. We didn’t have to get stops. All we had to do is play tough,” said Morris… “We let them get offensive rebounds late in the game. Guys just walking to the basket and we’re worrying about our own personal (expletive). It’s about the team. It’s about winning. We didn’t care about that too much tonight. We let them back in the game and got to regroup and get the next one.”

He’s right. Toughness can be rephrased as passion or commitment or a host of other things, but whatever you want to call it there wasn’t enough of it from Washington Tuesday night.

Washington is down 2-0 to Boston, but the Wizards are not out of this. They are heading home, where maybe they get more out of Bradley Beal and the bench, both of which were awful Tuesday. The Wizards also need to try to exploit Thomas on defense more, they only do it for stretches. Washington could win both games at home and even this series.

Washington could win both games at home and even this series. They just need to play more like Morris to do it.

Bulls VP John Paxson says Fred Hoiberg will be back, Rondo too, but less clear on jimmy Butler

Associated Press
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Cap flexibility. That and bringing back Fred Hoiberg. And Rajon Rondo.

Those were the big themes theme when Bulls Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson and General Manager Gar Forman spoke to the media on Wednesday. The Bulls were 41-41, which is about what should have been expected from a roster that lacked shooting, but that felt like a disappointment in Chicago. This was a team that floundered around without an identity, and Paxson owned up to it, as Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com reported.

Often a lack of identity is blamed on the coach, but Fred Hoiberg will be back.

A lot of that identity issue should fall on Paxson and Forman, who gave Hoiberg a roster that didn’t fit the style he prefers to coach or match up with team star Jimmy Butler.

Also returning, Rajon Rondo (the Bulls have a team option).

But running this roster back, does that make sense? When asked about getting another star player to pair with Butler — and no, Dwyane Wade is not the answer there (he has a player option and $23 million reasons to pick it up) — the Bulls front office talked about cap flexibility.

So does that mean the Bulls will trade Butler? You’d have to read between the lines on that. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tried.

There are a lot of questions the Bulls need to answer. Offering Jimmy Butler the same kind of designated player contract extension that Russell Westbrook is going to get something the Bulls want to do, because it would hurt that cap flexibility? If the Celtics land a top two pick (they have the right to swap with Brooklyn this year, the team with the best odds in the lottery) and offered it for Butler, could that be the basis of a deal that got done? (Would the Celtics do that is another question.)

What the Bulls need is a plan. They have talked about cap flexibility and the kind of team they want to build before, then they go out and pay big for Wade and Rondo and short-circuit all of it. GarPax hasn’t stuck to a plan. We’ll see if they have one this summer, what it is, and if they stick to it. But with the Bulls, it always feels like just about anything could happen.

Hornets’ Miles Plumlee undergoes knee surgery, will be ready for training camp

Associated Press
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Cody Zeller went down injured last season and when he did the Hornets’ offense fell apart, so at the deadline  Charlotte went for a band-aid and traded for Miles Plumlee. Except Plumlee didn’t provide the hoped for help at 2.4 points per game — and was injured himself for a stretch, so he only played in 13 games — all at a significant long-term cost ($37.5 million over the next three years).

Now comes word Plumlee needed his knee scoped this offseason. The Hornets made this announcement Tuesday night.

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that center Miles Plumlee underwent a successful arthroscopic debridement on his right knee.  Typical recovery time for Plumlee’s procedure is approximately six to eight weeks.

This means he will be back in time for training camp.

The Hornets would like to add some depth this summer, but they are largely locked into this roster the next couple of seasons (they do have the No. 11 pick). While they will look for trades (and Plumlee may be available), the fact is the Hornets have no cap space. Their improvement is going to have to come from the inside, not help from the outside.

Stephen Curry puts Rudy Gobert on spin cycle (VIDEO)

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Stephen Curry has done this to plenty of defenders — pull them out to the arc, pretend to start his drive, pull back, get them off balance, then blow by them.

But Tuesday night he did it to Rudy Gobert. Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Best rim protector in the league, and a guy who can handle himself out on the perimeter on a switch.

It was part of a night where the Warriors were off from three but were getting in the lane and getting buckets to make up for it on their way to a dominant win. The Warriors can play better, and I’m not sure there are a lot of good adjustments for the Jazz to make.

Reports: Former NBA star Brandon Roy shot in leg while visiting family in Los Angeles

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Brandon Roy, the former Portland Trail Blazers’ All-Star guard, was down in the Los Angles area last weekend visiting his grandmother when he was shot in the leg outside her home, according to multiple reports.

He has recovered, and in fact is back up in Washington where he is a high school coach, according to the reports.

King 5 TV in Seattle, where Roy is now a successful high school basketball coach, reported this.

He was shot while at an outdoor gathering in the Los Angeles area.  We were told, Roy was an innocent bystander in what may be a gang related shooting.

Roy was treated in southern California but has already returned to Washington while he recovers.

Sam Amick of the USA Today added this.

Someone opened fire randomly outside his grandmother’s house, and he was shielding some of the kids who were there, the person said.

It’s fortunate that Roy was not more seriously injured, and hopefully his recovery goes well.