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Pargo picked Wizards over Bulls


Pargo picked Wizards over Bulls

Though NBA teams are in the midst of opening their respective training camps with the regular season less than a month from tipping off, as of this past weekend Jannero Pargo had no gig. That's not the same as saying he had no options. The Chicago Bulls let the eight-year veteran and Windy City denizen know they had interest. Pargo, who spent part of four previous campaigns with the Bulls, pondered the been there done that situation. Rather than jump back into a familiar scene, he waited for something else.Then news of John Wall's injury came out. Then the Wizards came calling over the weekend. By Sunday night, the 33-year-old was in town. On Monday, the whirlwind scenario had the 6-foot-1 guard in a numberless Wizards jersey answering questions from the media about how it all came down."I think once (the Wizards) found out about the injury to John, they needed a veteran point guard to come in and try to help this team win games until he gets back - and hopefully be part of the rotation when he does," said Pargo, who played 55 games for the Hawks last season, including five during the playoffs.No doubt, there is intrigue about the upcoming Plan B battle between Pargo, A.J. Price and Shelvin Mack for those hefty point guard minutes made available by Wall's stress fracture - and who emerges as the primary backup in two months when Wall is expected back.
But hold on a second. Jannero, you picked the Wizards over the Eastern Conference contending Bulls? Explain yourself."Chicago was always there, they wanted me," said Pargo, who termed the last 24 decision-making hours "crazy." In the end, he became the sixth newest Wizard since the end of last season."But when this opportunity presented itself, I thought this was a better opportunity and the Bulls understood."Yeah, we need further clarification. The Wizards haven't tasted postseason since the 2007-08 season. The Bulls, even without the injured Derrick Rose, figure to be a lock for those extra games. So, why Washington over Chicago?"That's a good question," the pondering Pargo said. "I've been in Chicago on a number of different occasions. I didn't really quite get the opportunities that I wanted. I think this situation here, I think they're going in the right direction. Getting some different guys in here, Ariza, Nene, guys that know what it takes to win. I think they're going to rebuild and be a lot better than they were last year and I wanted to be a part of that."Fair enough, though potential playing time likely factored heavily into the equation. The Bulls have combination of established types like Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson plus first round pick Marquis Teague ready to fill in for their injured point guard. Before Monday, the Wizards options for the next two months without Wall included Price, who saw his minutes cut during three seasons with the Pacers, and Mack, who remains a work in progress when it comes to running an offense.Now Pargo is onboard. Beyond his experience - Pargo's eight seasons in the league is two more than Price, Mack, Jordan Crawford and rookie Bradley Beal combined - the ex Bull, Laker, Raptor and Hawk also brings a consistent 3-point touch to a team in need of perimeter help."I believe we're going to be a team that plays inside-out. We have a lot of good guys that can score inside, Nene, Kevin," said Pargo, showing his knowledge of the Wizards situation despite being able to gauge how many minutes he's been on the roster simply by counting his fingers and toes. "When those guys draw double teams, we have to knockdown jump shots. I think myself, Jordan and Bradley should be able to do a good job of that," said Pargo, who sank 38.4 percent of his 3-point attempts last season in Atlanta."Thats also another veteran point guard. Somebody that can knock down the three point shot. Can run a team," said Wall, who learned of the signing during his media day questioning. "Its great to add him before training camp started. Going to be excited for me to see those guys battle it out."Indeed andone of several interesting position battles entering training camp, which kicks off Tuesday at George Mason. As for what happens down the line?"When John gets back and he's healthy, he's going to play 38, 40 minutes per game," Pargo said. "If I can provide something off the bench, 8, 10 minutes, I'll be happy to contribute anyway I can."IfPargo can make three's and prove a steady hand with the second unit, his contribution could be greater than expected. Oh, don't worry about his uniform number. He's got one picked out."I'm going to go with number 7...I was seven last year, thought I played pretty good. Think it worked for me so I'll stick with it." And as one of the media members noted, it's now available.

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Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. show how they can change everything for Wizards in win over Blazers

Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. show how they can change everything for Wizards in win over Blazers

Most nights, with little variance, the Wizards know what they are going to get from John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. They are consistently what they are, both good and bad, and mostly good.

The same cannot always be said about Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. Both are capable of brilliance, it's just those moments come and go and sometimes with mysterious timing. Both players help the team more often than not, but can be unpredictable and enigmatic.

Monday night saw both Morris and Oubre at their best as the Wizards topped the Blazers 125-124 in overtime at the Moda Center. It was a worthy reminder of how much the two of them can change the outlook for the Wizards as a team on any given night.

Let's begin with Morris because this may have been the best game he's played with the Wizards since joining them in a Feb. 2016 trade. On both ends of the floor, he  was a force, but particularly on offense.

Morris erupted for 28 points in 25 minutes on 9-for-15 from the field and 6-for-10 from three. His six threes were a career-high. He also had 10 rebounds, a block and a steal.

It was the most efficient night in Morris' career and, by one measure, one of the most efficient in franchise history. His 28 points were the most by a Wizards or Bullets player in 25 minutes or less since A.J. English dropped 30 points in 23 minutes in 1990.

Morris' threes were well-timed. He hit two in the extra period, including one with 38.5 seconds remaining to put the Wizards up four. He also made one with 1:04 left in regulation and another right before that with 1:39 to go, both to give the Wizards a lead at the time. 

The clutch threes invoked memories of a game-winner Morris hit in the very same building two seasons ago. That also happened to be his best year with the Wizards.

Morris has improved his three-point shooting in recent years with a career-best 36.7 percent last season. When he's knocking them down, the Wizards can be uniquely good at spacing the floor, as Wall and especially Beal and Porter can be dangerous from three.

What Morris did against Portland was a major departure from a pair of uninspired games to begin the season. He had 21 points and 12 rebounds total in his first two games, both losses, as he failed to compensate for Dwight Howard's absence. On Monday, he stepped up and helped lead the Wizards to victory.

Like Morris, Oubre had been scuffling through two games. A different version of him showed up in Portland.

Oubre amassed only 17 points in his first two games and shot just 5-for-16 from the field and 1-for-7 from three. Against the Blazers, Oubre scored 22 points and shot 9-for-13 overall and 3-for-3 from long range.

Oubre added six rebounds, a block and a steal and a host of winning plays that didn't show up in traditional stats. He drew a loose ball foul on Mo Harkless early in the fourth quarter and took a charge on C.J. McCollum with under two minutes in overtime.

Oubre played pretty much exactly how head coach Scott Brooks often says he should. He ran the floor in transition and attacked the rim when the ball swung his way. He was more selective with his three-point attempts than usual. He wreaked havoc on defense with deflections, didn't gamble for steals and he hustled for rebounds. 

Monday night showed the perfect version of both Morris and Oubre. The Wizards need that to be the model for how they aspire to play every single night. If they do, this team's ceiling is significantly higher.



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10 must-see moments from Wizards' wild OT win over Blazers, including John Wall's Jordan shrug

10 must-see moments from Wizards' wild OT win over Blazers, including John Wall's Jordan shrug

The Washington Wizards beat the Portland Trail Blazers 125-124 in overtime on Monday night. Here are five plays or moments worth revisiting...

1. We will get to the game, and we will get to many things done by the Wizards, but we begin with a moment from pregame. Apparently, it was Halloween costume night for the Blazers and Moe Harkless stole the show by dressing up as Tyrone Biggums from Chappelle's Show:

Adam Silver, if you're reading this, please institute a rule requiring every team to do a Halloween costume arrivals night. You owe us this.

2. Okay, now for the game. Kelly Oubre Jr. was one of the stars of the night with 22 points, six rebounds, a block and a steal.

Here is one of his first buckets, a shot off the glass that was not an easy one to get to go down:

3. In the first half, Bradley Beal picked up right where he left off last time he was in Portland when he dropped a career-high 51 points. He had 19 of his 25 total points in the first half, including this baseline drive after a nasty crossover:

4. Markieff Morris also had himself a night. He popped off for 28 points in 25 minutes on 9-for-15 from the field and a career-high six threes. This was an athletic move around the rim you don't often see from Morris:

Was that some jelly from Keef? Not bad.

5. John Wall had a relatively quiet night for his standards with 16 points on 5-for-16 from the field with nine assists. Here was his best play, one of his signature chasedown blocks:

6. Back to Oubre. He was feeling it and even got Steve Buckhantz to drop a 'Tsunami Papi' reference on the broadcast:

For Buckhantz, as Oubre would say, "the wave is free."

7. Beal went cold in the third quarter, missing his first seven shots of the second half. But he got his groove back when the Wizards needed it most.

This three answered a go-ahead shot by Nik Stauskas and forced overtime:

Beal was super pumped:

8. Two of Morris' six threes came in overtime, including this one to help seal the victory. Morris knocked one down with only 38.5 seconds left and it put the Wizards up by four:

9. Wall helped put the Blazers down for good with a bank shot from the elbow. Some might say it was lucky, while others would say he called game:

Wall even had to hit the Blazers with a Jordan shrug. Portland has seen that before.

10. The Blazers had a chance in the final seconds, but Otto Porter Jr. put the finishing touches on the win with this block on Damian Lillard's buzzer-beater attempt. Though Porter didn't have huge numbers - he scored 16 points - his fingerprints were all over this win:

What an incredible game. We can all agree the Wizards and Blazers should play more often. Well, maybe not the Blazers. The Wizards have had a lot of fun at their expense in recent years.