The Rise of Markieff — Wizards vs Knicks, DC Council 69 | Wizards Blog Truth About

The Rise of Markieff — Wizards vs Knicks, DC Council 69

Updated: March 20, 2016

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards vs Knicks, Game 69, March 19, 2016, from the Verizon Center, via Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace).


Markieff Morris added another skill to his resume against the New York Knicks: defensive stopper.

Carmelo Anthony had 14 points at halftime and was on his way to his usual 30-point effort versus Washington when Randy Wittman switched Morris onto him. Carmelo made only two of nine shots for the remainder of the game. Morris said after the game that he had never covered Carmelo at any point in his five-year NBA career but was not intimidated.

Morris, who is used to defending power forwards and centers, was asked whether he felt comfortable denying the ball on the perimeter. Markieff deadpanned: “What did it look like tonight? Did it look like I was comfortable?”

Both Wittman and Morris referenced his twin brother, Marcus, in Detroit as evidence of Markieff’s ability to defend on the perimeter:

“He can guard multiple positions. … He does have an identical twin brother who is a 3.” —Randy Wittman

“I got a twin brother, so some of that that’s in him is in me, too.” —Markieff Morris

Makiefff said the key was bodying up Carmelo: “He is a great scorer, so wanted to get more size on him, be a little physical with him, and keep him away from the basket a little bit more.”

Anthony, who has two of his three highest scoring games of the season against Washington, is used to outmuscling Wizards defenders like Otto Porter, Garrett Temple, and Jared Dudley. Markieff was having none of that. Asked about Carmelo’s penchant for bullying defenders, Markieff just shook his head: “Not with me.”

With New York’s leading scorer neutralized, Washington held the Knicks to 13 points (4-for-20 shooting) in the third quarter while turning a 10-point deficit into a 10-point lead. Markieff, Marcin Gortat, and John Wall played all 12 minutes in the decisive third quarter and were the three best players on the court.

If there was one blemish in the box score, it’s Markieff’s continued struggles from beyond the arc (1-for-6 on Saturday), but he made up for it by shooting 7-for-9 on his 2-point attempts, including two put-back dunks and a spectacular alley-oop finish from Wall.


Knicks fans seem upset with just about everything interim coach Kurt Rambis does, but starting Sasha Vujacic is near the top of the list. Phil Jackson brought in Vujacic to help teach the Triangle offense and his continued presence in the starting lineup is a reminder of the Knicks’ failure to successfully implement the vaunted system.

Of course, the failure could have less to do with the system itself and more to do with the fact that, unlike Jackson’s prior stints in Chicago and Los Angeles, the current Knicks roster does not have a one of the top-10 players of all time.

Either way, Vujacic was a starter in name only versus Washington, playing only 12 minutes with a mostly empty stat line.


It was a tale of two halves for Otto Porter. He ended the first 24 minutes shooting 2-for-10 with misses from all over the court. However, according to Wittman, it was the good kind of 2-for-10:

“I told Otto at the end of the game, he was 2-10, I think, at halftime, and he didn’t stop shooting. I told him, ‘I’ll take 10 more of those exact shots, but you’ve gotta shoot them because they’re gonna be there.’ And he did. I think he went 4-for-5 in the second half and three 3s and that last one was the dagger.”

The “dagger” that Wittman spoke of was Porter’s 3-pointer with 58.9 seconds remaining to extend Washington’s lead to 12. However, Wittman could just as easily mentioned Porter’s previous 3-pointer with 1:58 left in the game, which stopped New York’s late surge and extended the lead to 11.

Otto scored eight of Washington’s final 10 points and showed aggression rarely seen but greatly needed from the third-year player. With Bradley Beal in and out of the lineup on a regular basis, Washington has a shortage of players who can create their own shot. Markieff Morris’ arrival helps, but the Wizards need more players who can score points without being hand-fed by Wall. Otto has the ability to fill that need by stealing points in transition and making hard cuts to the rim.

That Game Was … Over in Seven Minutes.

New York built a commanding 18-point lead in the first half, but it never actually felt like the Knicks were in control. Washington was getting good looks and you had the feeling shots would eventually fall.

Wittman was not concerned: “When we were down 29-20, believe it or not I told them, ‘We’re alright.’ They thought I was crazy, I think, but I really felt that way. That [and] not being able to knock some shots down, I liked what we were doing and I liked the shots that we were getting.”

Even when the Knicks’ lead grew in the second quarter, there was still a feeling in the Verizon Center that the Wizards would turn it around. Except for maybe this guy:

The turnaround came swiftly and powerfully at the start of the third quarter with a 9-0 run (led by Gortat’s seven points) to cut the Knicks 10-point halftime lead to one. After the Knicks built the lead back up to six, Washington effectively ended the game with a 14-0 run to take a 68-60 lead, capped by an electric Garrett Temple block.

Washington showed the same ability to close out games that was on display against Detroit and Chicago earlier in the week, but disappeared in dramatic fashion in a fourth-quarter collapse in Philadelphia. It’s the kind of “professional” win that the Wizards should have been amassing throughout the season.

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Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.