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Oubre energizes Wizards to even series
John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 114 points in the Wizards’ two wins over the weekend in Games 3 and 4.
The All-Star guards scored 28 a piece in Game 3, taking over the game with their playmaking. Beal was more aggressive offensively than he was in Games 1 and 2 and was able to find a rhythm. Wall, who has been the Wizards’ most consistent player and arguably the best player in the series overall, picked apart the Raptors in Game 3.
In Game 4, Beal had 31 points in 31-plus minutes, but fouled out with five minutes to play. Wall, who finished with 27 points and 14 assists in Game 4, then stepped up to lead the Wizards to a 14-4 run to close the game and even the series with Toronto.
Another constant in Games 3 and 4 was the energy from third-year forward Kelly Oubre Jr. Using his vibrant personality and athleticism, Oubre made big play after big play by doing the little things and letting the game come to him. He averaged 11 points per game over the weekend, but his efforts beyond the box score were pivotal to the team’s success.
“I have two of the best guards on my team so if I can get an extra possession for those guys something good will happen,” Oubre said after Game 4. “That's my job. I'm going to go out there and bring energy, and try to get stops, and get extra possessions for my team.”
The 22-year old was a force defensively, holding his matchups to 4-of-19 shooting and forcing eight turnovers in the weekend games. Oubre had five deflections in Game 3 and recovered four of Game 4’s 28 loose balls.Oubre stays with DeRozan with the block and forces a 24-second violation.
Oubre’s length disrupted DeMar DeRozan and C.J. Miles, while his speed and switch-ability kept him on the court in key situations. Over the weekend, Oubre held DeRozan to 12 points and 2-of-10 shooting on 28 possessions, including two turnovers. Miles, who made big shot after big shot in Games 1 and 2 with 15 points per game, was shut down in Games 3 and 4 with only 12 total points.Shortly after a dunk on one end in Game 4, Oubre draws a charge on Miles in an important defensive possession.
"Loading up. Getting back in transition,” Oubre said after Game 4 about his approach. “Stop ‘stabbing’ in the backcourt. Making sure we put bodies in front of DeMar [DeRozan]. Making sure Kyle [Lowry] doesn't go left into his jumpers, making sure CJ [Miles] is handled, and pretty much just keeping guys in front and following scouting report so it's very detailed and we did it a T tonight."Oubre seals Game 4 with a steal on Lowry.
“I thought he was really solid defensively,” Scott Brooks said on Monday of Oubre’s play over the weekend. “With Kelly and a lot of our guys, we have to be solid. We can’t go for steals, we can’t gamble and try to get the home run so we can get a dunk at the other end. You just have to stay solid.”Oubre doesn't give up on the play, stealing the ball back and finding the cutting Beal for the slam.
Brooks has long said that Oubre just needs to focus on the defensive end and the offense will come. He’s shown that in the series, with key buckets in transition, monstrous dunks, and getting to the free throw line. The 3-pointers may not be falling lately, but players are still respecting Oubre’s range, which has given him the ability to drive.Oubre pumps fake the defender and drives for the dunk right before drawing the charge on Miles in Game 4.
When it comes down to it, Oubre is an energizer bunny. He’s always hyped and positive and takes responsibility when the team doesn’t play well. The Kansas product plays the game for the right reasons and loves getting the fans into it.
“It is my job to go out there and bring energy and get stops on the defensive end. My strengths are getting out in transition and running the floor, and the crowd likes that too so it gets the crowd involved and they feel your energy. I just want everybody to feel my energy when I am on the court.”
The Wizards will need that energy with the team heading on the road for Game 5. Even without home court in Toronto, Oubre can make his presence felt by utilizing his length and turning defense into offense. To get a 3-2 advantage in the series, the Wizards will need another energetic performance from Wave Papi.See you in Game 5.