Oubre's newfound rhythm could be game-changer for Warriors

Kelly Oubre celebrating

If you ask Warriors fans to bet money on who they thought would lead the team out of a 13-point deficit, Kelly Oubre Jr.'s name would be pretty low on that list. 

And yet, it's exactly what he did on Friday night. 

No, the Warriors weren't able to secure the win, falling to the Orlando Magic 124-120, but if it wasn't for the third-quarter performance by Oubre -- and his fellow Kansas Jayhawk brother Andrew Wiggins -- the Warriors would have never had a shot at this game. 

"Kelly Oubre was fantastic," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters in his postgame press conference. "He is playing his basketball of the season. Just the way he has comfortably grown with the offense, he is moving the ball well, he's basically taking good shots, taking open shots and defending and rebounding. I thought the quarter, he was great."

In the third quarter alone, Oubre scored 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting in 12 minutes -- including the shot that gave the Warriors their first lead of the night.

His overall night consisted of 26 points, seven rebounds, one assist and four rebounds. It was the latest chapter is what has been a superb month of February for Oubre.

Heading into Friday's game, Oubre had been averaging 19.2 points on 47.8 percent shooting from the field and 46.3 percent from three -- a major boost from the 40.1 percent from distance in January and 4.8 percent in December. He's also averaging 6.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and nearly one steal per game in the last nine games.


This is the Oubre the Warriors had in mind when they acquired him from the Oklahoma City Thunder to fill the hole Klay Thompson's Achilles injury left. 

Perhaps the biggest change between this month and the two prior is Oubre's comfort level with the Warriors' system. Just from watching him play, he looks to have a better understanding of not only how the Warriors run things, but where he fits into it, and how his game does as well. 

Instead of forcing shots up or shot hunting for himself, he's making the extra pass to guys such as Steph Curry -- who is almost always going to be a better shooting choice. 

"(He's) getting comfortable with how we do things and where his shots are coming from," Curry said. "And the trust in how we move the ball and cut and the fact that he's going to have a lot of looks. He can use his athleticism to his advantage, and his speed. That comfort just comes over time. A lot was thrown at him from training camp to that first month and a half of the season. Stick with it, keep working. He's done that. And he shows up with his energy every night and that, in turn, allows you to take advantage of the reps and find some rhythm."

Oubre has brought energy, alright. Perhaps the only thing more he has done more consistently than his playing is his celebrations. After every bucket, Oubre has some sort of hair flip, hand gesture or facial expression. But that's just part of his game. 

The Warriors needed this version of Oubre, desperately. Against the Magic, and two nights prior against the Heat, Oubre has been a major factor in why the Warriors were able to stay in the game while Curry struggled to find his shot. 

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No, it didn't have the same success on Friday, but they were still within striking distance. 

As the Warriors look to find some resemblance of consistency during this four-game road trip and in their final six games before the NBA All-Star break, these kinds of games from Oubre are a must. 

If he heads to the break on this note, only good things should come from him when they return.

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