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Morning tip: Wizards find their Trevor Ariza again with Kelly Oubre

Morning tip: Wizards find their Trevor Ariza again with Kelly Oubre

The latest stretch by Kelly Oubre isn't just his best basketball of the season but of the small forward's two-year career. And he's doing it on both ends going into the playoffs for the Wizards.

In the last seven games,, Oubre has played from 23-29 minutes and has had 16 points and seven rebounds; 14 points and five rebounds; 10 points, six rebounds and two steals; 10 points, four rebounds and three steals; six points and two rebounds; 15 points and five rebounds; and 13 points, five rebounds and two blocks. 

But his greatest value can't always be seen in the statistics. The Wizards (48-31) aren't playing good defense, but the 6-7 small forward with the 7-2 wingspan has excelled against all shapes and sizes.

Coach Scott Brooks will use Oubre to cool a hot hand or in an end-of-game-situation, which are the first two examples, against the best offensive player:

vs. Carmelo Anthony, a 6-8 forward

vs. Jimmy Butler, a 6-7 guard/forward

vs. Isaiah Thomas, a 5-9 point guard

vs. Kemba Walker, 6-1 point guard

vs. Al Horford, 6-10 power forward/center

When the Wizards go to a five-man lineup with Oubre in for Markieff Morris with the starters, they allow just 100.2 points per 100 possessions in 200 minutes together. That's almost four points better than the regular starting five.

When Oubre is on the floor with Brandon Jennings, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jason Smith and Ian Mahinmi, they allow just 84.3 per 100 in a total of 86 minutes.

The best defensive pairings for the Wizards involve Oubre among the five. A playoff series can be flipped because of an adjustment such as Oubre to take away a team's key weapon. 

In 2013-14, when the Bulls had a chance of turning around their first-round series with the Wizards, it was forward Trevor Ariza who was assigned to the problem matchup, point guard D.J. Augustin. He extinguished that hope.

While it was Paul Pierce and then Otto Porter who took the starting role upon Ariza's departure, Oubre is proving to be a closer match.


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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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Former Wizard Dwight Howard to finalize Grizzlies buyout, reunite with Lakers

Former Wizard Dwight Howard to finalize Grizzlies buyout, reunite with Lakers

The Dwight Howard saga continues, this time turning the clock back to 2013.

The 33-year-old center, who only played nine games for the Wizards a season ago, will be bought out by the Memphis Grizzlies and sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Los Angeles reportedly expressed interest in Howard after center Demarcus Cousins tore his ACL during a workout last week.

Howard was famously traded to the Lakers during the 2012 offseason and spent the 2012-13 season before signing with the Houston Rockets in free agency.

In his lone season for the Purple and Gold, Howard averaged 17.1 points while grabbing 12.4 rebounds. But those numbers took a considerable dip from his final season in Orlando.

The year prior, the dynamic center averaged 20.6 points with 14.5 boards per game. While he dealt with injury, the Lakers significantly underperformed during Howard's lone season in Hollywood. It took miraculous play from Kobe Bryant to will the Lakers into playoff position before the future Hall of Famer ruptured his Achilles that April. The Lakers were swept in the first round of the playoffs.

But Howard won't be asked to be a superstar during his reunion in Los Angeles. The Lakers, of course, traded for Anthony Davis this offseason, pairing one of the best big men in the NBA with LeBron James. 

In Howard's last full season, which was in 2017, he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds for the Charlotte Hornets in 30 minutes. If the eight-time All-Star can come even near that production, the Lakers should be thrilled with their late summer signing.

Maybe this go-round will be when Howard wins a title with the Lakers?