Home Basketball Kelly Oubre Jr. leads Wizards to a road win against the Pistons

Kelly Oubre Jr. leads Wizards to a road win against the Pistons

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DETROIT — Anthony Tolliver came running at him, trying to block Kelly Oubre Jr.’s 3-pointer late Friday night. He didn’t get there in time, colliding into Oubre instead.

Tolliver turned around. Oubre went flying. The shot went in, plus the foul. When Oubre landed in front of the Detroit Pistons bench, he looked over at them, shook his head for a second and put his hands on his hips — a little bit of panache after another 3-pointer in a game full of them.

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Kelly Oubre Jr. gets some space in the corner and fires up a wide-open 3-pointer and draws Anthony Tolliver in for the foul.

Oubre is known more in Washington for his defense, yet lately, his offensive rhythm has been just as important. He made shots early. He made them late — including the last of his career-high 26 points and 3-pointer-plus-the-foul from Tolliver, and tied career highs with five 3-pointers made and nine attempted.

It was a night where Oubre continued emerging as a key piece for the Wizards’ offense. When he’s able to make shots the way he did, it forces defenders to account for him, spacing the floor for John Wall and Bradley Beal to create.

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Tomas Satoransky tracks down Dwight Buycks from behind for the block and on the other end Kelly Oubre Jr. finishes off the swing with a powerful dunk.

It lets Oubre get a little loose, too.

“It was just fun, man,” Oubre said. “I was talking to the coaches, everybody. We were all chirping at each other.”

It was Oubre, though, who could make the loudest noise Friday night in a 122-112 win over the Pistons. That 3-pointer essentially sealed the game, the last of many passes to open looks he got because that’s what happens when teams focus on Wall and Beal.

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Behind Bradley Beal’s 26 points and a 45-point third quarter, the Wizards hold on for a 122-112 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

This is a part of ongoing challenges from Washington coach Scott Brooks. Not specifically one on this night against the Pistons, but in general. Brooks is always finding ways to push his 22-year-old forward. He doesn’t let Oubre settle for youthful mistakes.

“He knows I have his best interests,” Brooks said. “I want him to get to a level that he knows he can get to. The thing I love about Kelly is he competes. He works. He’s not afraid to work.”

That’s what Oubre has done daily — in more than basketball. Every day he says he works on his jump shot, which has improved from 28.7 percent from 3-point territory last season to 39.8 percent this season.

He also has worked on himself mentally. Last season, his trainer suggested he try meditation. This season, it has become part of his morning routine. He won’t give up many details about it because then “people might try to take it and be who I am,” but it has worked. By paying mind to his breathing every morning, it has helped him focus throughout the day.

“Emotions come and go, you know,” Oubre said. “A lot of energies, a lot of forces tug at you and in order to reach your soul’s full potential, you have to be able to conquer who is inside.”

After he has worked on his soul, he can focus on his game, which is where Brooks helps out by pushing him and challenging him to find different areas where the third-year pro can improve.

“He knows how to send messages, how to motivate,” Oubre said. “But he’s done a great job of pretty much just making sure I’ve earned everything that comes my way, that nothing is given to me so I respect him in that sense.”

But Oubre also understands his role. It’s defense first, offense and running the floor as a supporting piece as he develops into a two-way player. It’s what Brooks helps stress, what his teammates want to see, what Oubre strives to be.

Lately, that has happened. He has scored in double figures in Washington’s past seven games and in 20 of 25 contests since Dec. 1. Friday night was an example of what he has done — and what he’s still capable of.

“It just gives us another threat, another option,” Beal said. “He’s been shooting it well all year. We feed off of that, especially when we go to a lineup with John, me, Otto [Porter Jr.] and [Markieff Morris], it spaces the floor out.

“It gives John and I lanes to create and all he needs to do is get to the open spot and knock it down.”



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