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Mike Scott a bright spot for Wizards with John Wall out

Mike Scott a bright spot for Wizards with John Wall out

The Wizards this season have been notable for their inconsistency and that has been even more evident in the last eight games with John Wall injured. The same team that notched wins against the Timberwolves, Blazers and Pistons lost to the Blake Griffin-less Clippers and by 47 points to the under-.500 Utah Jazz.

Perhaps ironically, given results of the past several years, the one mainstay while Wall has been out has been the Wizards' bench. With the team's best player out, the Wizards' much-maligned second unit has collectively upped their game. 

In the last eight games without Wall, the Wizards' bench is scoring 41.5 points in 20.9 minutes per game with a +1.4 rating. All of those rank in the top 10 in the NBA during that span. For the season they are much more average with 34.1 points (10th) and 18.2 minutes (18th) per game and a net rating of -0.2 (15th).

In the Wizards' four wins without Wall since his latest injury, their bench has scored 40.8 points per game on 50.4 percent shooting from the field and 43.6 percent from three. They have been +8.3 as a group.

The bench in Wall's absence has seen a host of contributors step up in different games. Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Jodie Meeks and Ian Mahinmi have had their moments. But in the last three games, two of them wins, backup forward Mike Scott has been the standout.

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Scott has 40 points on 17-for-19 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 from three-point range in his last three outings. That's to go along with 16 rebounds and five assists. His 22 points against the Clippers on Saturday were his most in a game since April of 2014.

Scott, 29, joined the Wizards as a reclamation project in the offseason on a one-year, prove-it deal. So far that signing has been a positive. At his best, Scott provides an important scoring punch off the bench.

There have been some off-nights and some games where minutes aren't offered by head coach Scott Brooks. But overall, Scott's consistency scoring the ball has a nice boost for the Wizards. He has reached double-figures in points 10 times this season off the Wizards' bench. Only Oubre has more (13) this year and only three Wizards players - Oubre, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jason Smith - had more double-figure scoring games off the bench all of last season.

Scott is putting up some of the best numbers of his six-year NBA career. He's shooting career-highs from the field (54.9%) and three-point range (41.9%) and his 8.3 points per game are his most since the 2013-14 season. 

Some nights it's easy to tell early when Scott is in rhythm. He often scores quickly once he checks in, mixing midrange jumpers and fadeaways with a dose of quick-release threes. This season Scott is shooting 40 percent on corner threes, 53.3 percent on midrange shots from three to 10 feet, 69.2 percent from 10 to 16 feet and 58.5 percent from 16 feet to the three-point line.

The Wizards didn't have an efficient scorer off their bench at this point last season. In Scott, they appear to have one and he comes at the reasonable price of a veteran minimum contract.

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The anatomy of Kelly Oubre Jr.'s follow-dunk and pose

The anatomy of Kelly Oubre Jr.'s follow-dunk and pose

Kelly Oubre Jr. didn’t know precisely what the moment required. The hops and charisma are always on standby regardless.

In one of his more controlled performances of the season, the Wizards’ forward managed to stand out in Monday’s road loss at Indiana. Not solely for his 23 points, even though it established a new season-high. Not just for a rim-rattling follow dunk, though props for the aerial work.

What came after the slam is what got social media jumping. It’s why his popularity surpasses his production. It’s why his critics sometimes cannot help but smile.

Two days after turning 23, the birthday boy explained how the jam and viral video pose went down.

It started with two aspects not always associated with Oubre’s game: Passing and court awareness.

Washington already trimmed Indiana’s 25-point lead to eight as the clock moved closer to the nine-minute mark of the fourth quarter, and the Wizards executed a play.

Teammates Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris ran interference for Oubre as he dribbled toward the right elbow.  Despite openings for a drive or shot, the player who passes with the frequency of a wishbone quarterback stuck with the plan. He looked for Morris rolling toward the basket.

“I just looked at the situation. The play was for Keef to roll and be open. He was open,” recalled Oubre.

Enter Myles Turner. The Pacers’ center dominated the paint throughout, finishing with 12 rebounds and five blocks. Oubre’s dribble brought Turner his way, but on the pass, the mobile big man quickly shifted across the paint. Morris created space and lofted a half-hook. Turner’s wingspan, on display with ferocity all night, altered the shot.

Oubre thought it might. Standing alone and with a clear path to the basket, the sleek forward made his move. Quick and light steps positioned out front if a miss bounced his way. It did.

“Myles is a great rim protector," said Oubre. "I just figured that since he’s been altering shots all game. I’d at least jump to give myself a chance to follow it up.”

Morris’s banked shot went short off the glass, sending the ball off the front of the rim. Oubre read the carom’s angle like geometry major. He rose with ease and hammered dunk the miss with two hands.

“Perfect timing, the stars aligned.”

Then the personality popped.

Before Oubre touched back down, the smile began to form. He stuck the landing like a 6-foot-7 Kerri Strug, though with two good ankles. As the grin enveloped his face and Oubre looked out into the crowd of non-well-wishers, both hands attached to his hips, forming a perfect pair of isosceles triangles. 

Oubre: “The pose was just me having fun. Their fans was talking crazy [expletive] though. I was just smiling at them the whole game.”

Just posing would have put a nice capper on the high-rising moment. Ever the showman, Oubre added a final flourish.

As the megawatt smiled remained, he went with a full head nod toward the crowd. He knew what they witnessed and that they didn’t love it. Regardless, they had to appreciate the style and let them know he felt the same.

“I don’t really look around when I’m playing," said Oubre. "It was really just because the fans didn’t want us to do good.

“I just have a lot of personality, you know? It was a good time, man.”

Oubre’s highlight reel includes a new entry. Such moments wow fans and keep scouts intrigued. If only Oubre could hone the rest of his game, they think. He’s shooting under 30 percent on 3-pointers since January. His shot selection and struggles with team defensive concepts cause exasperation.

Some team might fall in lust regardless and offer the 2015 first-round pick a hefty contract when he hits restricted free agency this coming summer. The Wizards can match any offer. Considering their salary cap concerns and Oubre’s uncertain trajectory, they might not.

Oubre wants more and says he works to improve his game daily while pushing free agency thoughts aside.

“Just getting better every day. Just taking it one day at a time, trying to live in the moment,” Oubre said. “Not necessarily looking at the future because the future will happen if I take care of now. Today I got better. Tomorrow is a new game, a new opportunity.”

Tomorrow comes Wednesday when the Wizards host the rival Boston Celtics.

“The Celtics have a lot of guys who are talented basketball players, and I’m a competitor,” Oubre said. “I’m looking forward to going to play against them.”

When it comes to the entertaining Oubre, even those head-scratching doubters probably feel the same.

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Wizards vs. Celtics: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards vs. Celtics: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

The Wizards(11-16) hosts the Celtics (16-10) on Wednesday night inside Capital One Arena for the first of three matchups of the 2018-19 season.

The Wizards dropped a Monday night contest in Indiana, despite an All-Star performance from Bradley Beal who poured in 30 points without John Wall in the lineup. 

The Celtics, without Kyrie Irving, defeated the New Orleans Pelicans Monday night thanks to a 31-point performance from Marcus Morris. 

One of the more recent and compelling NBA rivalries is back. 

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, and more:

WIZARDS vs. CELTICS HOW TO WATCH:

What: Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
Time/Date: Wednesday, 12/12/18 at 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Washington (7:00 p.m.)
Live stream: You can watch the Wizards vs. Celtics live stream on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and the MyTeams by NBC Sports App. . Download MyTeams now for full postgame coverage and 24/7 Wizards news.
Radio: 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. CELTICS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders 
6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live
7:00 PM: Wizards vs. Celtics
9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live 
10:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders 

WIZARDS vs. CELTICS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Dwight Howard (out, lumbar microdisectomy procedure)

Celtics: Aron Baynes (questionable, left ankle sprain), Gordon Hayward (doubtful, illness), Al Horford (questionable, left knee soreness), Guerschon Yabusele (out, right ankle sprain) 

WIZARDS vs. CELTICS SERIES HISTORY: 

Number of all-time Meetings: 302 games (22 playoff games)

Regular Season Record: Celtics lead series 188-114

Playoff Record: Celtics lead series 13-9

Last Meeting: Wizards beat Celtics 113-101 on 4/10/2018

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