- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 22, 2017

ATLANTAPaul Millsap and Markieff Morris have turned the first-round series between the Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks into a personal battleground.

Morris outplayed the Hawks‘ All-Star in Game 1. Millsap has responded in the last two games. In particular, he helped drive Atlanta’s win on Saturday night with 29 points and 14 rebounds. Morris was stifled on 4-for-14 shooting from the field, putting together his second ineffective game against the Hawks‘ best player.

After the game, Morris gave Millsap praise before pivoting to insults.

“Good game,” said Morris when asked for Millsap’s impact. “He did more for his team tonight. Me, as a man, you take your wins with your losses. I take my wins with my losses all the time. He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby. You get all the calls and you a crybaby. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

Even before being alerted of Morris‘ locker room comment, Millsap addressed the combativeness between the two. Specifically, Millsap was asked how it felt to have someone in his face throughout the game.

“It feels good, man, to have somebody in your face like that,” Millsap, 32, said. “It’s been a while. So, to have that feels good.”

That was followed by a question if the series had become personal between the two, and Millsap was informed that Morris had called him a crybaby.

“Hmmm,” Millsap said. “It definitely got personal, now, yes. I don’t care. So what? Take his loss and go back to the hotel. Be ready for the next game.”

Both have proven quotable. Morris made waves with various comments during the regular season, never muting a swear word even though cameras and recorders were present. Before the series, he explained that he did not want to be referred to as a “stretch-four” because he viewed the term as representative of a soft player. Though, he said Millsap could be correctly called a stretch-four. Millsap followed Atlanta’s Game 1 loss by making the claim that the Hawks were playing basketball and the Wizards were playing MMA. During that game, Morris could be seen telling Millsap to “shut up” multiple times at the end of the first half.

Atlanta’s 116-98 win on Saturday cut Washington’s series lead to 2-1. Game 3 was not the foul-plagued mess Game 2 was. Instead, the Hawks manhandled Washington from start to end.

“We don’t mind the physicality,” Millsap said. “We actually welcome the physicality. I think it makes us play harder. I know Dennis [Schroder] likes the chippiness. I know myself. I think [coach Mike Budenholzer] likes it. I think anytime that happens and we can rise to the occasion, I think we welcome it.”

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