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New Wizard Jodie Meeks lights up the Guangzhou Long-Lions for a preseason win

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New Wizard Jodie Meeks lights up the Guangzhou Long-Lions for a preseason win

The Washington Wizards beat the Guangzhou Long-Lions 126-96 in their first preseason game on Monday night at Capital One Arena.

How it happened: Even without their top two point guards, one of them John Wall, and even without their starting power forward, the Wizards had no trouble with China's Guangzhou Long-Lions in the first game of their five-game preseason schedule. 

Tomas Satoransky started at point guard and attacked the rim at will. Either he's gained some newfound confidence after a summer as the man on his Czech national team, or he was simply taking advantage of lesser competition. The same could be said about Kelly Oubre, Jr., who was more aggressive off the dribble than normal, even getting assists on drive-and-dish plays, which aren't typically in his repertoire. Regardless of the opponent, they looked good and so did backup shooting guard Jodie Meeks, who got anything he wanted on the offensive end of the floor. 

The Wizards' regular starters didn't see the floor much. Wall sat the game out entirely to rest. Bradley Beal played just 7:37 before calling it a night. Marcin Gortat scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in 15:02 before retiring to the bench. Otto Porter had three points and four rebounds in 13:33. 

Ian Mahinmi moved well after an offseason of slimming down. He was active on the boards and dominated the paint when he was on the floor.

MORE WIZARDS: Wall eyes MVP award, appreciates Brooks' confidence

What it means: Nothing. Well, almost nothing. This was the first time the 2017-18 Wizards matched up with a team outside of intrasquad scrimmages. It gave head coach Scott Brooks the chance to test out some lineups. But given the opponent was a team from China, it's hard to clean too much from the results.

Meeks was instant offense: The Long-Lions had no answer for Meeks, who had about as good a Wizards debut as one could ask for. He showed no hesitation with a quick release and first step, relying on his three-point shot and floaters to rack up 19 points in 16:23 by halftime. He hit 4-of-5 threes in the first half and swished a floater from beyond the free throw line to end the first quarter. Health is the biggest concern for him, as he averaged 33 games the past three seasons due to various injuries. For one night, he looked exactly like the Wizards want him to look: quick and assertive with the ball.

The replacements: The most important objective for the Wizards this preseason is figuring out how to sub for Markieff Morris while he is out recovering from sports hernia surgery. Jason Smith got the start alongside Gortat at the four and immediately knocked down a three. He also had a nice block on Tyler Hansbrough, the one recognizable name on the Long-Lions. 

Chris McCullough (14 points) showed flashes, going above the rim to snatch rebounds and throw down dunks. He came to life offensively in the fourth quarter, with a 20-foot jumper and a pair of two-handed dunks assisted by Sheldon Mac. He later powered home an alley-oop set up by Donald Sloan. McCullough also gambled and lost on defense on a few plays, but overall had a nice night. 

Mike Scott didn't play at all in the first half. He then started the second half and had some moments, including a nice dish to Mac for an open three in the third quarter. Scott had six points of his own in the third quarter.

Mac made some noise: Speaking of Mac, he had a nice night overall with 13 points. After not playing at all in the first half, he was a focus of their offense in the second half. He got into the lane with easy, finishing once with a wide open, two-handed slam. Mac looked comfortable firing from long range and handling the ball. His roster spot could be threatened by Sloan and Carrick Felix, so it was an encouraging start for Mac, who finished with 13 points. Mac also pulled off an impressive feat: he fouled out despite not playing in the first two quarters.

Up next: The Wizards play their first preseason game against an NBA team on Friday night, again at home. They will host Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks.

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Kelly Oubre, Jr. may take on larger role due to injuries, and rebounding could be key

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Kelly Oubre, Jr. may take on larger role due to injuries, and rebounding could be key

The Wizards have two players sidelined at the moment and both happen to play the same position. Markieff Morris was already out following the sports hernia surgery he had in September, then Jason Smith sprained his right shoulder defending a dunk attempt by Joel Embiid in the regular season opener on Wednesday night.

This has put head coach Scott Brooks in a tough predicament. He's trying to acclimate new players into his rotation, but now has no choice but to get creative. Smith is considered questionable for Friday night and is likely going to be limited, regardless when he returns.

If Smith misses time or is not 100 percent, the onus will fall mostly on third-year forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. with Mike Scott behind him. Oubre is not a power forward, but is versatile enough to co-exist with Otto Porter alongside John Wall, Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat. The Wizards utilized that lineup last season at times and relied on it heavily once Smith departed Wednesday night's game. Porter could be looked as the four in that group, but he and Oubre are essentially interchangable on defense.

Oubre, 21, came through with 14 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals against the Sixers. He knocked down three three-pointers and shot 5-of-10 from the field overall.

"I'm ready. I've worked for this moment. The season is here, so it's time to put the work to the test," Oubre said. "I feel very confident. I feel very relaxed. This is Year 3, so I'm excited for all the opportunities that may come."


Those eight rebounds stand out, in particular. Oubre averaged 3.3 rebounds last season, his second year in the NBA, in 20.3 minutes. Oubre had 14 in one of their preseason games and has clearly put extra focus on that part of his game.

One reporter (me) asked Oubre about his 'seven' rebounds in the opener and Oubre issued a quick correction, showing exactly how much attention he's paying to the stat.

"I had eight in the opener, but yeah," he said. "It's a big emphasis because that's what we need. We need guys to go in there and rebound, push the break and keep up the pace. That's the style of play that we're looking for, to play fast and play tough. Crashing the boards is something that I need to do to help the team."

Brooks sees a lot of potential in Oubre's ability on the glass. 

"I look at rebounding as a stat that Kelly can really be consistent with. He has the size, the strength, the length and the athleticism and the toughness to get in there and get some rebounds. I think you should be able to see [eight] every night. It's one of the things we talked about to improve defensively. We have to be a better defensive team," Brooks said.

The Wizards miss a lot more than rebounding if Morris and Smith aren't in the picture, of course. But Oubre's development in that area could be important in the Wizards' effort to compensate for two key injuries at the same position.


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John Wall's new motto Wolf Season has reached a new level

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John Wall's new motto Wolf Season has reached a new level

It started as an offseason hashtag. After Wednesday night's win over the Sixers, it was legitimized with a postgame quote.

John Wall wants everyone to know that it's Wolf Season and, according to another favorite hashtag of his, nobody is safe.

Wall brought it up himself on Wednesday when asked about dunking all over the Sixers. When asked what Wolf Season means, he replied: "Just keep watching."

Wall used the hashtag #wolfseason all summer long in photos on Instagram. He also used the phrase #wolfwall:

It's reminiscent of the Wolf of Wall St. He also referenced "Michael Jackson Thrilla Mode" on Instragram and the music video for 'Thriller' very famously had Jackson turn into a wolf:

Michael Jackson Thrilla Mode spilling sauce everywhere I go !! #WallWay #5Deep #BYB #WolfWall

A post shared by johnwall (@johnwall) on

Whatever Wall means by it, the rest of the NBA might want to take notice.