Washington Wizards start in the right direction in Game 1

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Washington Wizards start in the right direction in Game 1

WASHINGTON (AP) - John Wall scored a playoff career-high 32 points and Markieff Morris added 21 in his National Basketball Association playoff debut as the Washington Wizards beat the Atlanta Hawks 114-107 Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round series. "He pushes the pace every time he's in the game, which is what we needed". Few players are more unsafe with a head of steam in pick-and-roll situations, and the Hawks might have made a mistake by dropping back and giving him room to see the floor. Washington Wizards guard John Wall, right, loses the ball to Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder, left, during the first half in Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, in Washington, Sunday, April 16, 2017. I rely heavily on my starters and then use Kent Bazemore, Ersan Ilyasova, Thabo Sefolosha, and Mike Muscala in that order.

"Just being aggressive", said Wall, whose 32 points were a playoff career high.

In Houston, the Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder tipped off in a Western Conference series featuring the top contenders in the Most Valuable Player race - Thunder star Russell Westbrook and the Rockets' James Harden.

Cats fans won't get to watch superstars such as DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins, Anthony Davis, or Karl-Anthony Towns and plenty others - as their teams failed to make the postseason.

Tim Hardaway Jr. couldn't find his shot in Game 1 and is not known for his defense making him a liability. The best player on the Nationals is much more open to debate, but if you had to pick one player, it's not a bad idea to choose the only guy on the team to win the league MVP award. Another dunk, another eruption from the Verizon Center crowd. The Hawks need his scoring punch, so they must get him on track quickly. "Obviously, I will pick up some insane fouls either on an offensive screen or a guard is driving to the rim". Wall is particularly adept at finding Gortat around the rim - in the fourth quarter, the two connected for two more buckets around the basket. Wizards C Ian Mahinmi (calf) will not play in Game 3, Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "The start of the season was not the way we wanted to start, so you're looking like, 'I hope we're not going through the same process as previous year.' To be back in the playoffs ... couldn't ask for (anything) better". "And he makes great decisions". Markieff Morris was huge, especially on the defensive end, recording four blocks in Game 1. The four-time All-Star said he wanted to "get some moves" to fit the MMA playing style and vowed to match the Wizards' and Morris' physicality going forward. "We didn't have to double team in the post anymore". "We knew their stuff, just like they knew ours".

McCollum scored a playoff career-best 41 points and Lillard had 34, but the Warriors made the crucial big plays on both ends down the stretch with Portland playing without injured center Jusuf Nurkic.

Millsap didn't take too kindly to it.

Also, Morris scoffed at the notion that officials might call a tighter game in the wake of all the MMA talk. But like the first quarter, the refs took over this quarter as they continued to blow the whistles. He can take over plays. And you definitely see it in Morris, who amplifies the Wizards' style of play with his ability to double as a power forward with perimeter skills and an old-school enforcer toughness.

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