Tough stretch continues - After losing to the Rockets on Monday night, the Wizards stay home this week, but their schedule remains quite difficult moving forward. On Wednesday, they see the Boston Celtics (3-3), who won 48 games last year, and on Friday they host the defending-champion Cleveland Cavaliers (6-0). After that they head to Chicago on Saturday to battle the Dwyane Wade-led Bulls (4-3). Following that stretch they face the still-terrible Sixers and Knicks, though both of those teams present challenges with young stars Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis. After starting this season 1-5, the road is not getting any easier for the Wizards as they look to get back on track.
Brooks wants Oubre to focus on defense - The first six games of Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s sophomore NBA campaign have produced a mixed bag, both in terms of his results on the court and the playing time offered to him by head coach Scott Brooks.
Oubre played 22 and 15 minutes in the Wizards' first two games, respectively. Then he played just seven minutes against the Raptors and then didn't play at all against the Hawks on Nov. 4. In the two games since, he's played a total of 31 minutes, including a 10-point performance in 14 minutes against the Rockets on Monday night.
That last outing was Oubre's best of the season so far and it bodes well for him moving forward as Brooks continues to tinker with his evolving bench.
"I don't look into [playing time]. I control what I can control. I'm not a coach. I'm a player. I just come to practice and come to work today trying to get better. That's what I can control each and every day," Oubre said. "I don't try to put myself in coach's head and what he's thinking or why he's doing this [or that], I'm just doing my job."
As for what Oubre can do to continue earning more playing time, Brooks shared some specifics.
"He needs to continue to lock in whenever he’s in the game. That’s the thing that a lot of younger players in this league struggle early on. I have a lot of confidence in him regardless if he plays a lot of minutes or he plays little minutes or no minutes. He has a very bright future with us. I need him when he’s on the court, he has to be ready to play. When you’re guarding his position, there’s a ton of scorers. It’s not easy.
"That’s part of being in that position, the two or three spot, here’s a lot of scorers sprinkled around the league. You have to be able to guard that. Defensively needs to be his focus. Offensively needs to be secondary.”
Oubre agreed with Brooks on the idea of focus. He said it's a matter of treating every play the same throughout a 48-minute game. Oubre said he will often go straight to the gym following games he wasn't pleased with.
As for what he's working on during practice, in particular, Oubre hopes to be more aggressive on offense.
"My shot has gotten better. My ball-handling definitely can get better. But just my decision-making. That's one big thing. When I come off these screens and come off wide pin-downs, I'm definitely a little hesitant. I'm not attacking the big like I should. I can get to the rack, but I've gotta put it into action. I've gotta be more decisive on that court and do what I know how to do," he said.
Eastern Conference standings
Game of the week: John Wall 11/2 vs. Raptors - 3 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, block
Quote of the Week
"[Marcin Gortat] kept talking like 'you're going to get it, you're going to get it.' Well, if you didn't lose the ball three of four times, I would have gotten it.'
- John Wall joking after Friday's game as he neared Wes Unseld's franchise assists record
Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week
Mon. - Loss to Rockets (114-106)
Tue. - OFF
Wed. - 7 p.m. vs. Boston Celtics (CSN)
Thu. - OFF
Fri. - 7 p.m. vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (CSN)
Sat. - 8 p.m. at Chicago Bulls (CSN)
Sun. - OFF