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John Wall, Bradley Beal shine as Wizards top Knicks in preseason

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John Wall, Bradley Beal shine as Wizards top Knicks in preseason

The Washington Wizards beat the New York Knicks 104-100 in their second preseason game on Friday night at Capital One Arena.

How it happened: After making quick work of the Guangzhou Long-Lions, a Chinese Basketball Association import, in their first preseason game, Friday night offered the Wizards a chance to face an NBA team (yes, the Knicks count) for the first time in their exhibition schedule. Though they were without superstar Kristaps Porzingis (rest) and eighth overall pick Frank Ntilikina (knee), the Knicks gave the Wizards a fight with a group mostly comprised of journeyman veterans.

Head coach Scott Brooks tried many different lineups as he continues to explore his rotation with Markieff Morris due to miss several weeks of the regular season. Jason Smith started at power forward, but Mike Scott also saw plenty of time there. Brooks also went with a small-ball lineup with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Otto Porter, Jr. on the court at the same time. After getting lots of run vs. the Long-Lions, Chris McCullough didn't see the floor in this one.

Even though they were missing their best players, the Knicks kept pace with the Wizards and only trailed by one point at halftime. Enes Kanter (16 points) and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (15 points) were tough to stop for the Wizards.

New York started to pull away in the third quarter with a double-digit lead before a series of threes by Oubre and Carrick Felix tied it up late in the frame. Sheldon Mac and Oubre helped push the Wizards to a win in the fourth quarter.

What it means: The Wizards don't appear to be close to picking a starter at power forward. Their defense remains a work in progress. Wall and Bradley Beal (13 points, 21 min.) looked like the best players on the court, per usual.

Wall's debut: Wall didn't show much rust at all for the most part. Early on he was getting to the rim at will, which was to be expected given the competition. There's a reason the Knicks took Ntilikina so high and without him they don't have much at the point guard position. Wall was getting by Jack and Sessions with ease. At one point Beasley was switched onto him and Wall blew right past him for a huge dunk.

Wall did, however, rack up an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers. There were a few times he just lost the ball in transition, a sign of him not yet being in regular season rhythm. Wall had three turnovers compared to just one assist in the first quarter. He ended up with five giveaways. In terms of scoring, Wall was very sharp. He finished with 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting in 23:43 of play.


Scott a standout: Wall has spoken glowingly of Scott's ability to score, which may go overlooked when most think about the former UVa standout. Scott is known for his defense and toughness. But he had some smooth plays on offense, including a corner three assisted by Wall. Scott also had a fadeaway from the elbow that showed off his quick release. Scott will be doing a lot of the dirty work for the Wizards' bench, but he can definitely score some when needed. Scott had 12 points, four rebounds and three assists in 18:55. He shot 5-for-9 from the field.

Meeks provides a spark: Much like the first preseason game, Jodie Meeks could not be stopped as soon as he checked in. He knocked down his first three and finished 2-for-3 from long range. One of those was off a screen and he showed no hesitation. Meeks had eight points in 8:45, shooting 3-for-5 from the field. 

Roster competition: Donald Sloan didn't play in the game due to a thigh strain, but Mac was able to go despite jamming his thumb on Monday and missing practice time this week. Mac had some moments, including a nice layup on a fastbreak where he went three-quarters of the court off the dribble. He also found Oubre for a big slam midway through the fourth.

Carrick Felix had a nice strip of Doug McDermott, but missed a contested layup on the other end. He had five points in 11:36.

Up next: The Wizards host the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday at 3:00 p.m., their last home preseason game. That will be on NBC Sports Washington. After that, the Wizards hit the road for two exhibition games before the regular season begins.


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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.