Wizards

Wizards' bench takes shape with Kelly Oubre, Sheldon McClellan

Wizards

The bench rotation has been constantly changing under Wizards coach Scott Brooks, but he may have found combinations that work after Sunday's 107-101 win over the Milwaukee Bucks with Kelly Oubre and Sheldon McClellan factoring heavily into the victory.

Out, at least for now, are more experienced players such as Andrew Nicholson and Marcus Thornton. 

The second-year Oubre came two points shy of tying his career-high with 17 points. The undrafted rookie McClellan had eight points, three assists and two steals, getting his production in the flow of the offense and not forcing shots to do so.

That's how a 12-point deficit was erased by Washington (18-18) when Oubre scored 10 on 4 of 5 shooting. It's how they closed, too, with McClellan getting five in the fourth quarter.  

"Our bench did a good job," Brooks said. "Sheldon played good minutes for us. Kelly came in and it's back-to-back good games for him."

Oubre drained a three-pointer on a beautiful ball reversal as Bradley Beal was closed out from shooting and Otto Porter made the extra pass. Then John Wall found him with a no-look pass to give the Wizards a 64-63 lead midway through the third.

His activity around the basket, three of Oubre's five rebounds were offensive, helped give Washington a 20-4 edge in second-chance points. Oubre, who will get left open based on how opponents cover, is 7-for-14 on three-pointers in the last three games. This is his best stretch of basketball since a Dec. 16 concussion interrupted what had been a stretch of solid play. It helped that he didn't have to contend with Giannis Antetokounmpo who was out sick for Milwaukee. 

 

"We had some conversations the last few days of making it happen on the defensive end," Brooks said. "Don't have this game plan that you're going to come in and score a bunch of points. Come in and affect the game defensively and the offense gets rewarded." 

It's the second game in a row that Thornton, who was erractic in the Wizards' 0-2 start to 2017, didn't leave the bench. Nicholson has 12 healthy scratches this season. 

This wasn't the 50-point performance from the reserves that the Wizards had in a blowout win over the lowly Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 30. This result is likely closer to what they can provide when running at optimimum level sans Ian Mahinmi when playing a quality opponent. 

Unlike his 27 points vs. Brooklyn, Trey Burke didn't score in 11 minutes but he had five assists and two steals. One of the thefts came after Markieff Morris was stripped by Greg Monroe, but Burke tracked down their outlet and fed McClellan for a layup and foul that produced an 89-83 lead with 8:57 left.

McClellan, who was able to get his done in just 12 minutes, then took a charge from Jabari Parker to negate a transition basket. In Friday's win vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves, McClellan didn't convert a field goal but had two key assists during a 9-0 run to bring the Wizards back in the fourth quarter.

Jason Smith only logged five minutes and missed all three of his shots but still will factor into the rotation going forward. 

"The first half we gave them everything they wanted. Human nature kicked in. They didn't have Giannis and we kind of relaxed," Brooks said. "Can't do that. The second half we just played better."

[RELATED: 5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Bucks]