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Morning tip: No plays? No problem for Jarrid Famous

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Morning tip: No plays? No problem for Jarrid Famous

LAS VEGAS -- Jarrid Famous, an undrafted free-agent center from South Florida who is playing for the Wizards at summer league, has gradually made his presence felt. After their first victory Tuesday following two terrible losses to open tournament play, Famous has remained a constant.

"It's funny, I told Jarrid before the game, 'Jarrid, I run no plays for you. Literally I run no plays. And you always find ways to affect the game,'" assistant coach Roy Rogers, who was at the helm for the 85-79 win vs. the Dallas Mavericks when Famous had 16 points and nine rebounds. "We try to keep encouraging him to keep going to the glass, keep setting screens, keep rolling because he does all the dirty things that don't show up that give us an opportunity to win."

All summer league statistics should be regarded with caution because the fact is, like D-League numbers, they don't necessarily mean anything. The competition is smaller, not as physical or as fast as the NBA itself. Most summer league players won't play a day in the big league, but what it can mean is Famous getting a serious look for training camps that start in September. When the Wizards had Khem Birch last summer, his performance earned him a spot at camp with the Miami Heat though he didn't stick. 

The NBA is going smaller, using three-point shooting power forwards and three-guard lineups. But rebounders, many of whom can be had for cheap initially, are needed to clean up the mess and get extra shots. They, too, can command star-like salaries. Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers recently turned down $52 million and probably will get significantly more this summer.

MORE WIZARDS: TRIO OF VETS GOT WALL READY FOR THIS MOMENT

"I just go out there giving it my all, effort and stuff like that," said Famous, who is averaging 15.6 points and 10 rebounds in three summer league games. "As far as running plays, I don't need that. I just go out there and given energy and play hard. It'll all pan out in the end. 

"It's not really stressful to be here. It's a blessing to play at a high level. ... I don't believe in stress. It's all good. ... I know my role is to rebound, set hard screens, run the floor and just be active every play. Don't take a play off."

The Wizards still are in good position to make another move. They have the maximum 15 guaranteed contracts for the 2015-16 regular season so there's no room. However, they could in theory release DeJuan Blair, who had a dismal inaugural season with the Wizards as a backup center, pay him his guaranteed money, and acquire an undrafted big man like Famous for the rookie minimum and still avoid the luxury tax threshold. 

Of course, another team with more cap room could be able to offer more. Just because Famous plays for the Wizards at summer league, there are no strings attached to him. The same goes for every other player here without a deal other than a summer contract. 

For Famous, the important thing is he knows his identity. He came out of school in 2011 and has bounced around four different D-League teams. In this summer league run, he has had 21 points for the Wizards on seven shots, 10 points on five shots and 16 points on 12 shots. 

"In college, I really didn't know who I was. One day I wanted to be LeBron James, score all the points," Famous said. "Next day I wanted to be a rebounder. It was a lot of flip-flopping, going through the process, let me know who I am as a player and I just worked on that. Now, it's showing out."

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Five observations from Wizards' 125-124 overtime win over the Blazers, including Markieff Morris' career night

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Five observations from Wizards' 125-124 overtime win over the Blazers, including Markieff Morris' career night

The Washington Wizards beat the Portland Trail Blazers 125-124 in overtime on Monday night. Here are five observations from the game...

Wild game, huge win: Though it was just the third game of the regular season, it felt like the Wizards needed this one. They had just lost their first two games to teams missing key players and battling through the second nights of back-to-backs. And up next is the defending-champion Warriors.

Lose this one and the Wizards could have put themselves in a very tough early season hole, but they rallied to overcome a sluggish offensive start to the second half to secure their first victory of the season.

Considering the alternative, this was about as important a win could be this early in the year.

Oubre showed some life: The shots finally started falling for Kelly Oubre Jr. After shooting just 5-for-16 from the field and 1-for-7 for three in his first two games, Oubre broke out with 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting and 3-for-3 from three in this one. He also added six rebounds, a steal and a block.

To his credit, Oubre didn't force anything out of frustration after the way he started the season. He began the night by calmly knocking down a three from the slot, then attacking the rim for a shot off the glass a play later. Oubre was aggressive getting into the lane and scored with both hands.

This was, quite easily, Oubre's best performance so far in 2018-19, including the preseason. He was active deflecting the ball on defense and played controlled, intelligent basketball on offense. 

There were many plays he made that won't show up in the box score that helped lead the Wizards to their win; deflections, a huge charge taken in the final minutes of overtime. He was absolutely locked in.

Now, there were some lowlights. Oubre let several players get by him too easily, including Evan Turner and Jake Layman. Oubre has the tools to stay in front of those guys. But all in all, Oubre made a big difference in this game and that was good to see.

Morris balled out: While Oubre had his best game in the past few weeks, Markieff Morris may have had his best performance in a Wizards uniform. The Wizards forward exploded for 28 points in 25 minutes with nine rebounds, a block and a steal. He set a career-high with six threes made on 10 attempts.

Two of Morris' threes came in overtime, including one with 38.5 seconds left to put the Wizards up by four. His role in closing out the win in Portland brought back memories of his game-winner in the same building in March of 2017.

Morris is one of the biggest wild cards on the Wizards because it's not always clear which version of him they are going to get. When he's at his best, he's hitting outside shots and playing physical defense. He did that and more on Monday night.

With Dwight Howard out, the Wizards need Morris to step up. Though he didn't exactly do that in their first two games, Morris came to play in this one.

Beal went off early: This game was billed as the return of Bradley Beal to the Moda Center where he dropped a career-high 51 points last December. It took him a bit to get going, but once he did, Beal caught fire and scored at a pace that for a while was reminiscent of that amazing night.

Beal had 19 points in the first half on 8-for-12 from the field and 3-for-4 from three. But then he cooled off a bit in the second half and finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and one block. He had zero turnovers.

Beal has now scored at least 25 points in five straight games against the Blazers. Clearly, he likes playing in Portland but one reason for his success against them may deal with C.J. McCollum. 

Beyond the fact facing one of the best shooting guards in the NBA may bring the best out of him, Beal is a tough cover for McCollum because he's more athletic. He's a tick faster and can get higher on his jumpshot. 

McCollum is an underrated defender, but Beal kept him off balance with well-timed pump fakes and consistently got open off screens. Beal's points were mostly within the rhythm of the offense. He was moving consistently without the ball and using the smallest of separation to get his shots off.

Beal also deserves credit for his defense against McCollum. The Blazers star was limited to 13 points on 5-for-25 from the field and 1-for-9 from three. 

Damian Lillard also had a rough shooting night. He had 29 points, but on 7-for-21 from the field and 2-for-10 from three. Many of his points came at the free throw line where he went 13-for-15, 13 of his attempts in the first half.

Two centers are now hurt: The day began with head coach Scott Brooks sharing some bad news about Howard, who not only did not make the trip with the Wizards but is likely to miss at least several more games. Not too long into this game, they lost their backup center, too.

Ian Mahinmi was subbed out after getting two quick fouls and never returned. He went to the locker room to get treated with back spasms, leaving the Wizards perilously thin at the center position. They had to rely on Jason Smith and using forwards Markieff Morris and Jeff Green in small-ball lineups. Thomas Bryant still didn't get the nod.

Back spasms do not sound serious, but any time Mahinmi is unavailable puts a strain on the Wizards. It brings into focus the fact the Wizards have not one, but two roster spots currently vacant. 

 

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Wizards vs Blazers featured Moe Harkless' impressive Chappelle Show themed Halloween costume

Wizards vs Blazers featured Moe Harkless' impressive Chappelle Show themed Halloween costume

The Portland Trail Blazers are setting the bar high for NBA Halloween. 

Maurice Harkless made his arrival in style turning a corner dressed as Tyrone Biggums from the American sketch comedy television series "Chapelle's Show." 

But it got better. Bosnia native and seven-footer Jusuf Nurkic turned the corner as Beast from Walt Disney's classic romance film Beauty and the Beast. 

The bar has been set. 

Washington looks for its first win tonight after falling to 0-2 right out of the gate, while Portland aims for a 3-0 start after defeating the Spurs 121-108 Saturday night. 

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