A couple of weeks back, after knocking down a pair of clutch free throws in a big win over the Golden State Warriors, Markieff Morris informed reporters about his willingness to put his allegedly sizable testicles on the line. On Wednesday night, however, the Washington Wizards power forward decided it was time for someone else’s gentleman parts to go on the line.
Sorry about that, Mason Plumlee.
With just over two minutes remaining in Wednesday’s game at Pepsi Center in Denver and the Wiz holding an 11-point lead, Morris cut from the top of the key to the left elbow to take a dribble handoff from center Marcin Gortat. As he curled around Gortat’s screen, Morris found himself confronted by Plumlee, who’d come off Gortat to help Juancho Hernangomez trap the ball in hopes of creating a turnover with the shot clock winding down.
He stepped up to greet Morris, and dislodged the ball. Unfortunately for him, so did Morris.
Plumlee, understandably, hit the ground in a heap, and the referees stopped play to figure out what all happened. After an extensive review that suggested the officials in the Replay Center in Secaucus, N.J., are very into “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” they determined that what happened was Markieff Morris flailed and kicked Mason Plumlee in the nards. (Or, in the more stately language of Candace Buckner of The Washington Post, “Morris appeared to flail his leg after losing the ball, and his leg made contact with Plumlee in the groin area.”)
As a result, they decided to hit Morris with a flagrant foul-2 and eject him from the game, in accordance with the league’s 2017 crackdown on below-the-belt hits spurred by the south-of-the-border havoc wreaked by Draymond Green during the 2016 postseason (and beyond). Morris finished with 11 points (3-for-3 from the field, 1-for-1 from 3-point land, 4-for-4 from the foul line) to go with six rebounds and two assists in 26 1/2 minutes of work.
After the Wizards finished off their 123-113 win without him to improve to 39-24 — a season-best 15 games over .500, which is the first time any team that’s started 2-8 has done that — Morris swore he didn’t know what he’d done, according to Buckner:
“I saw the video when I came back here, but I mean, he attacked the ball so hard. His force coming down on the ball made me come up. That’s how it happened,” Morris said. “I didn’t know I kicked him in the nuts.” […]
“They better not suspend me for that bull—-,” Morris said, then referenced Green without saying his name. “He got a track record of doing [stuff] like that. I didn’t know that [stuff] happened until I got kicked out of the game. I just saw [Plumlee] down.” […]
As a locker room, the Wizards were united in their defense of Morris. As [John] Wall continued his advocacy on his teammate’s behalf, Bradley Beal, dressing nearby, piped in with his plea: “Free Keef!”
Losing Morris for a game would be a big blow for Washington, who now sit 3 1/2 games out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and just one back of the second-seeded Boston Celtics. Whether it’d be as big a blow as the one dished out, though, probably depends on whether or not you felt its impact.
“[A flagrant-2 was] the right call,” said Plumlee, according to Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post. “That was the most direct hit I’ve taken.”
Let us hope, for the sake of future generations of Plumlees, that no contenders rise up to vie for that particular crown any time soon.
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