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Morning tip: Wizards find their Trevor Ariza again with Kelly Oubre

Morning tip: Wizards find their Trevor Ariza again with Kelly Oubre

The latest stretch by Kelly Oubre isn't just his best basketball of the season but of the small forward's two-year career. And he's doing it on both ends going into the playoffs for the Wizards.

In the last seven games,, Oubre has played from 23-29 minutes and has had 16 points and seven rebounds; 14 points and five rebounds; 10 points, six rebounds and two steals; 10 points, four rebounds and three steals; six points and two rebounds; 15 points and five rebounds; and 13 points, five rebounds and two blocks. 

But his greatest value can't always be seen in the statistics. The Wizards (48-31) aren't playing good defense, but the 6-7 small forward with the 7-2 wingspan has excelled against all shapes and sizes.

Coach Scott Brooks will use Oubre to cool a hot hand or in an end-of-game-situation, which are the first two examples, against the best offensive player:

vs. Carmelo Anthony, a 6-8 forward

vs. Jimmy Butler, a 6-7 guard/forward

vs. Isaiah Thomas, a 5-9 point guard

vs. Kemba Walker, 6-1 point guard

vs. Al Horford, 6-10 power forward/center

When the Wizards go to a five-man lineup with Oubre in for Markieff Morris with the starters, they allow just 100.2 points per 100 possessions in 200 minutes together. That's almost four points better than the regular starting five.

When Oubre is on the floor with Brandon Jennings, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jason Smith and Ian Mahinmi, they allow just 84.3 per 100 in a total of 86 minutes.

The best defensive pairings for the Wizards involve Oubre among the five. A playoff series can be flipped because of an adjustment such as Oubre to take away a team's key weapon. 

In 2013-14, when the Bulls had a chance of turning around their first-round series with the Wizards, it was forward Trevor Ariza who was assigned to the problem matchup, point guard D.J. Augustin. He extinguished that hope.

While it was Paul Pierce and then Otto Porter who took the starting role upon Ariza's departure, Oubre is proving to be a closer match.


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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.


Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:


The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 


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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.