You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Millsap: Wall and Beal, not Morris, remain focus of Hawks


Paul Millsap is not about to let Markieff Morris get in his head.

The Hawks veteran power forward said he’s been around too long to let a physical battle with one player become the focus of the playoff series against the Wizards.

The Wizards took Game 1 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round matchup with a 114-107 victory Sunday afternoon. The Hawks lost the game and, to a great extent, were on the receiving end of much of the physical play.

No matter what happened between Millsap and Morris — an exchange of heated words and a little more — the Hawks’ focus remains on the Wizards backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, the foundation of the franchise.

“I think it’s important that we control the other two guys, Beal and Wall,” Millsap said Monday after the Hawks’ practice on the campus of Georgetown University. “They are extensive scorers. I’m not going to turn this into a personal battle between me and Morris.

“That’s what he wants me to do, take all the focus off the team and put it on him. I’m not going to do that. I’ve been in the league too long. It’s about the team and stopping those two guys, the head of the snake which is John Wall, and we’ll give ourselves a really good chance to win.”

Wall finished with a game-high 32 points, including 15 in a decisive third quarter, to lead the Wizards. Morris scored 21 points with seven rebounds and four blocks while providing defensive presence against Millsap. Millsap finished with 19 points and two rebounds.

When asked following the game about the difference in the outcome, Millsap said “We were playing basketball. They were playing MMA (Mixed Martial Arts).”

Millsap stood by his comment on Monday and he and teammates acknowledged the Hawks need to raise their physical play. This is the playoffs after all.

“That is playoff basketball intensity,” Millsap said. “We have to step it up a notch and play that style too. If we can get out there and be that kind of aggressive, we’ll be OK.”

Center Dwight Howard, no stranger to infighting in the pivot, concurred.

“It’s fine,” Howard said. “If they allowed both teams to play as physical, I would love that. We have to continue to play no matter what happens. We can’t get involved with the refs or anything like that. We just have to focus in on what we can control. If we play hard, we should win the game.”

Prior to the series, Morris essentially called Millsap soft by advising Washington reports to refer to him as a power forward but refer to Millsap as a stretch-4. Millsap is listed at 6-feet-8 and 246 pounds while Morris is 6-10 and 245.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said he was made aware of Millsap’s postgame comment. While he believes the biggest issue for his team was its transition defense, he acknowledge the Wizards were the aggressor.

“My general thought is they were the aggressor for more of the 48 minutes than we were,” Budenholzer said. “They are probably more physical for more of the 48 minutes than we were. … Generally speaking, us being better in a lot of areas is probably more important and understanding it’s part of the playoffs. To do some degree, we have to raise our aggressiveness, our physicality, and improve in a lot of other areas.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Hawks

Hawks enamored with impressive wingspan of Kaba
Hawks enamored with impressive wingspan of Kaba

The length of Frenchman Alpha Kaba is double-take worthy. The Hawks’ second-round draft pick has a 7-foot-5 1/4 wingspan. General manager Travis Schlenk noted the dimension Monday at an introductory news conference for the team’s 2017 draft picks. The following exchange between first-round pick John Collins and Schlenk immediately followed...
NBA honors Monty Williams with first Sager Strong Award
NBA honors Monty Williams with first Sager Strong Award

Standing out in the NBA Awards show Monday night was an emotional presentation of the Sager Strong Award. Monty Williams, a former coach and current Spurs vice president of basketball operations, won the inaugural award for his perseverance through a tragic loss. Williams’ wife, Ingrid, was killed in a car crash last season while Williams was...
Hawks assistant Ham to participate in BWB camp in Bahamas
Hawks assistant Ham to participate in BWB camp in Bahamas

Hawks lead assistant coach Darvin Ham will participate in the Basketball Without Borders Americas Camp in the Bahamas next month. The camp, sponsored by the NBA and FIBA, runs from July 5-8 in Nassau. It’s the ninth BWB Americas camp and the first to be held in the Bahamas. The camp will feature 66 boys from 16 countries and territories. NBA...
New Hornet Dwight Howard wants to connect with Cam Newton
New Hornet Dwight Howard wants to connect with Cam Newton

During a press conference introducing former Atlanta Hawk Dwight Howard as a member of the Charlotte Hornets on Monday afternoon, Howard said one of his goals as a Hornet is to connect with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.  With both Newton and Howard being from Atlanta and going by variations of the nickname “Superman,&rdquo...
Hardaway Jr. a restricted free agent as Hawks extend qualifying offer
Hardaway Jr. a restricted free agent as Hawks extend qualifying offer

The Hawks extended a qualifying offer to Tim Hardaway Jr. on Monday, officially making the shooting guard a restricted free agent. The move was expected and gives the Hawks flexibility regarding Hardaway’s contract. Hardaway would have been an unrestricted free agent had the Hawks not made the qualifying offer. Now, the Hawks have the right of...
More Stories