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Morning tip: Oubre, Smith give hope to Wizards' improving 2nd unit

Morning tip: Oubre, Smith give hope to Wizards' improving 2nd unit

It's going to be difficult to sell any upside to the Wizards' season now that they've lost four of their last five games, but the second unit performed well enough in Monday's loss to give them hope in the bigger picture that's the playoffs.

The starters were flat in the 110-102 loss at the Boston Celtics. Otto Porter only played 22 minutes and didn't make a three-pointer (eight points). Marcin Gortat played a season-low 12 minutes (four points and four rebounds). John Wall didn't get a double-double for the second game in a row and Bradley Beal went cold after a hot start when he scored 12 points in 12 minutes but finished with just 19.

But it was Kelly Oubre leading an effort in the fourth quarter as the Wizards trimmed what had been a 20-point deficit to 106-100 by harassing Isaiah Thomas into mistakes to make it momentarily uncomfortable. Oubre's stat line of four points and four rebounds won't blow anyone away, but when the Wizards won the previous meeting coach Scott Brooks put Oubre on Thomas in the fourth quarter and held him to one field goal.

"That's what we need. He's actually been good for three games defensively," Brooks said. "There's no secret how I feel about that. I love his energy. I love his toughness. But I like to ssee it every time on the court. It's not a sometimey league. That's your role. You got to be speical in it. He has a chance to be speical, being that defensive guy."

Trailing 96-82 with 7:31 left, Brandon Jennings buried a three-pointer. After a timeout, Oubre jarred the ball loose from Jae Crowder to disrupt a possession and it led to a bad look for Avery Bradley as Boston's offense was disjointed. 

There was good ball movement on the next possession from Jennings to Jason Smith to Bojan Bogdanovic that led to free throws for the latter. A two-man game between Smith and Bogdanovic, who combined for 27 points and 11 rebounds, created a three-pointer for the former at 98-89. That cut the deficit to less than 10 for the first time since it was 58-49 just 32 seconds into the third quarter.

The Celtics had a spurt that put the lead back at 15 points with five minutes left, but Oubre then took the assignment on the NBA's top fourth-quarter scorer.  He stripped Thomas and both went diving into the backcourt for the loose ball. Oubre then got switched onto 6-10 post player Al Horford, defended him without help and blocked his jumper to force an airball. Oubre switched back onto Thomas and smothered his drive to help block his shot with Morris and gain possession.

Then as Thomas took the ball up the court following two free throws from Wall, Oubre picked his pocket and went in for a dunk to cut the deficit to six with 2:04 left. 

Jennings had 10 points and seven assists in just 15 minutes so when adding all of that up the Wizards have something with their reserves, particularly when they go smaller with Smith or Morris in the middle.

The starters, however, have to get back up to speed for it to matter.

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' disappointing loss to Celtics]

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Watch Rui Hachimura’s shutdown block

Watch Rui Hachimura’s shutdown block

Rui Hachimura continued his dominance in international friendlies Saturday as he put up 31 points and five rebounds in a winning effort over Germany.

After a highlight-reel performance in Thursday's loss to Argentina, Hachimura was back at it two days later.

That block at the 37-second mark is just filthy. It would also be goaltending in the NBA, but FIBA rules allow players to touch the ball at pretty much any time once it's made contact with some part of the hoop. Nevertheless, the athleticism to make this play is what stands out.

But Hachimura wasn't finished.

He looks more like Steph Curry leading that breakaway, dribbling behind his back and finishing at the rim himself than a 6-foot-8 forward.

With the international friendly schedule at its end, Japan will tip off the 2020 FIBA World Cup on Sunday, Sept. 1 against Turkey. After a matchup with the Czech Republic, Hachimura and Japan will take on his future NBA opponents when they face the United States on Sept. 5.

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Maryland native Quinn Cook tells the behind-the-scenes story of his road to the Lakers

Maryland native Quinn Cook tells the behind-the-scenes story of his road to the Lakers

Before he joined the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a blockbuster summer that saw them land Anthony Davis, before he won the NBA Finals as a role player with the Golden State Warriors, and before he averaged double-digit scoring and won the NCAA tournament at Duke, Quinn Cook was a star point guard at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md.

Cook was in town this week for his fourth annual youth basketball camp at First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Landover. NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller sat down with the former Stag, who he’s known since the now-Lakers guard was 14 years old, on the Wizards Talk podcast.

Miller talked with Cook about why he feels connected to kids in the local community and what it was like losing his father as a teenager. One of his closest friends is fellow DeMatha product Victor Oladipo, who helped him get through the loss of his father Ted when he died suddenly in 2008 after going into a coma following a colon procedure.

“My best friend Norman and Victor, their parents took them out of school, and they were with me for two weeks,” Cook said. “At the funeral, [head coach Mike] Jones had the entire DeMatha basketball program…come to the funeral and all sit together [with] their uniforms on.”

Cook also went on to talk about his time at Duke, the viral video in which he convinced some people at the mall he was J Cole and his obsession with winning before going into how he landed in Los Angeles this offseason.

“When Golden State withdrew their qualifying offer, I became unrestricted and had some teams call me and the Lakers thing, it just happened quick,” Cook said. “I had talks with them, AD called me, [LeBron James] called Rob Palinka for me, and Coach K called them, talked to Bron and stuff and we got it done.”

Check out the full podcast below and listen to Miller talk hoops every week on the Wizards Talk podcast.

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