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Kelly Oubre blossoms when Wizards need him most to beat Bucks

Kelly Oubre blossoms when Wizards need him most to beat Bucks

Eight games ago, Kelly Oubre had a fast track to coach Scott Brooks' doghouse. Or so it seemed during the Wizards' 112-100 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. 

Oubre was yanked after three minutes, missing his only shot and getting beaten backdoor by Pau Gasol for a layup. 

Fast forward to Saturday night when for the second game in a row Oubre was on the court at the end of a close game and finishing a win for the Wizards, scoring a career-high 19 points to go with nine rebounds and three steals.

"I thought Kelly was outstanding on both sides of the ball. The game basically tells you what to do," Brooks said after a 110-105 come-from-behind win in which Oubre had a steal in a dunk for a three-point lead with 2:43 left. "The defense that he has played, it rewards him. He had a lot of good looks because of the defense that he played. It gives you energy. He rebounded the ball in that first half well. We needed those rebounds. When he rebounds and defends, the scoring is going to come. He's on a nice run right now."

Oubre was 3-for-3 shooting for seven points in the fourth quarter of a game they trailed 98-92 with 5:21 left. Then he hit a three-pointer. But just as importantly, the Wizards (9-13) put together six consecutive stops on the defensive end with Oubre playing at small forward next to Otto Porter as the "stretch" power forward. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo was a matchup nightmare for Porter, but Oubre entered to help shoulder the responsibility of guarding him and proved disruptive of the 6-10 combo guard/forward. 

"That was my prerogative tonight to take that matchup with Giannis pretty seriously," Oubre said.

Antetokounmpo had a game-high seven turnovers. The Wizards doubled him more late to kill the offensive flow for Milwaukee. He was the only starter among their five to score in the final 12 minutes. 

Oubre finished 7-for-11 shooting, including 3-for-6 from three-point range. When he's on the floor with the starters, he's going to get spot-up looks because of heavy attention paid to John Wall and Bradley Beal. But Oubre also has had better decision-making. Earlier in the season, he'd try to run all the way to the rim and go over bigs to finish with little results. Now he's stopping a dribble short for the pocket jumper. He had a 12-foot pull-up to cut the deficit to 92-88.

"I've worked with a lot of young players in the past. It happens that way," Brooks said. "You don't see much for a couple of weeks, maybe even a month and all of a sudden there's a jump. We're experiencing that jump I would say the last six or seven games. He's had some really quality minutes."

Oubre had eight points, five rebounds and two steals as the Wizards locked down the Denver Nuggets to pull out that win late Wednesday. He also finished the game on the floor with Markieff Morris on the bench so Brooks can use Porter as a better option to spread the floor.

Oubre had his first (and still only) double-double after that disappointment vs. the Spurs in the next game, a win over the Sacramento Kings, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. He had 12 points and six rebounds in a close loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He had 10 points and five rebounds in a comeback win at the Brooklyn Nets. 

The second unit has struggled for most of the season, but it has prospered in conjunction with Oubre. Trey Burke (five points, two assists) has showed signs of life as the backup point guard in the first half and Jason Smith (four points) dropped in to consecutive buckets on his only shots early in the fourth quarter to keep the score even.

Oubre's three made three-point shots set a career-high as well.

"Wow, I didn't even know that," Oubre said when told of his mark. "Going for four next game."

That's Monday at the Miami Heat. 

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' impressive win over Bucks]

 

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After consecutive 40-point games, what does Bradley Beal have for an encore against the Jazz?

After consecutive 40-point games, what does Bradley Beal have for an encore against the Jazz?

Over the weekend, Bradley Beal had the best two-game stretch of his career so far with 40-point games on consecutive nights. On Monday, he has the chance to provide an encore, again in front of home fans at Capital One Arena.

This time, however, Beal and the Wizards will be facing a much tougher line of defense. He will now take his shot at the Utah Jazz (7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington), who are by many measures one of the very best defensive teams in the NBA.

Utah comes to town ranked fourth in points allowed (106.4/g) and third in defensive rating (105.8). They allow the second-fewest threes (9.9) and three-point attempts (27.9) per game.

Beal has done much of his work the past two games on the perimeter. He made seven threes against the Hornets on Friday and a career-high nine threes against the Grizzlies on Saturday.

Utah has been elite at locking down the three-point line this season. Guards Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio, and forwards Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder, can cover a lot of ground as a group.

The Utah defense, though, is anchored in the middle. Rudy Gobert, the 2017-18 defensive player of the year, is having another dominant season with 2.3 blocks per game and a career-high 12.9 rebounds. 

The Jazz will make it tough for Beal and his teammates with disciplined, physical defense in the backcourt and one of the game's best rim protectors backing them up. Monday could provide Beal one of his best challenges of the season. 

He has proven able to adapt to opposing defenses and find a way to score, whether that be by making outside shots, ones in the midrange or attacking the rim. The Jazz will likely be able to take away some combination of those avenues.

The Wizards have lost four straight games against the Jazz and Beal has struggled in their match-ups. Though he has averaged 20.8 points during that stretch, he has shot just 28 percent from three.

The Jazz may be one of the NBA's top defenses, but they have given up their fair share of big scoring games this season. Eight players have scored 40 on them in 2018-19, including Derrick Rose who dropped 50 back in October.

If Beal were to go for 40 for the third straight game, he would set a franchise record. That won't be easy to do, especially against the Jazz. But, as this weekend showed, Beal is on a different level right now.

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How to watch Wizards vs. Jazz 'Predict the Game' broadcast

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How to watch Wizards vs. Jazz 'Predict the Game' broadcast

After a huge win against the Memphis Grizzlies behind Bradley Beal's career night, the Wizards close off their homestand at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Additionally, on NBC Sports Washington Plus you'll be able to watch an interactive, alternate live-game experience, including a free-to-play predictive gaming contest with a $500 prize, along with real-time sports-betting data and statistics. 

If the Washington Wizards (30-40) want to make the playoffs, now is the time to start winning.

The Wizards are 3.5 games back of the 8th seeded Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, and they have just 12 games left in the regular season. Washington has won six of their last 10 games, including three of their last four games -- which have all been at home. Monday's game hosting the Utah Jazz (40-29) are on a three-game win streak and sitting in 7th place in the Western Conference.

Whether Wizards star Bradley Beal will have another 40-point game in the tank will be interesting to see, as if the Wizards will be able to contain Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.

Wizards-Jazz takes place on Monday, March 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Capital One Arena and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington and NBC Sports Washington Plus. 

PREDICT THE GAME HOW TO WATCH

What is this broadcast? Predict the Game is an easy-to-enter, free contest that allows fans to predict various game and player performance outcomes through a series of approximately 30 questions that will appear on screen during the alternate telecast on NBC Sports Washington Plus. Predict the Game leaderboards will be displayed at select times, and the winner of the contest will be revealed during NBC Sports Washington’s postgame coverage.

Where can I find it? Contest questions and leaderboards will be displayed on NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder).

Additionally, the broadcast can be streamed on desktopiOS and Android devices. 

How do I win? Fans will earn points for correct predictions, with the top eligible scorer at the end of the game earning or splitting the $500 prize. 

Fans must enter Predict the Game, which is open to join throughout the entire game, and submit their predictions at www.nbcsportswashington.com/predict

WIZARDS vs. JAZZ HOW TO WATCH:

What: Washington Wizards vs. Utah Jazz
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Wizards vs. Jazz game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder Link).
Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Jazz on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.
Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. JAZZ TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders
6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live
7:00 PM: Jazz at Wizards
9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live 
10:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders

WIZARDS vs. JAZZ INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Wizards: John Wall (Out, Heel), Dwight Howard (Out, Back) J

Jazz: Thabo Sefolosha (Day-to-Day, Hamstring), Dante Exum (Day-to-Day, Knee)

WIZARDS vs. JAZZ PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Wizards, Bradley Beal: In his last two games, Beal has gone off for 40 points, and is averaging 31.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game since the All-Star break.

Wizards, Jabari Parker: In the month of March, Parker is averaging 17.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.

Jazz, Donovan Mitchell: Mitchell leads the Jazz with 23.6 games per season, and he is also averaging 28 points per game in March.

Jazz, Rudy Gobert: The Jazz's second-leading scorer (15.4 points per game) is averaging a team-high 12.9 rebounds per game.

WIZARDS vs. JAZZ SERIES HISTORY: 

Number of all-time Meetings: 102 (no playoffs)
Regular Season Record: Jazz lead, 54-48 

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