The Washington Wizards appeared to be in a good mood ahead of Friday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, despite a slow start at the end of the NBA's Eastern Conference.
In Thursday's practice, team and coach Scott Brooks talked about Dwight Howard's season debut. Howard himself reaffirmed the team's preseason goal of reaching the Eastern Conference finals and made it clear he thought it was too early to count the wizards.
The result on Friday, a listless loss of 134-111, made it clear how far the wizards of the playoffs are, let alone win one or two postseason series.
Much of the frustration in the early season was centered around the heavily paid trio of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter Jr. But the Wizards' performance in the second quarter on Friday – when they passed 44:20 and went into the break 29 – picked up also the inconsistent game of Kelly Oubre Jr., an important part of the Wizards' second unit.
Oubre's development, paired with the additions of Austin Rivers and Jeff Green, were important reasons Wizards expected their bank to take a step forward. But Rivers and Green did not play very well, and although Oubre was one of the team's highlights in a rough start to the season, the team is still plagued by its inconsistency.
In the first five games of the season, Oubre scored an average of 15.6 points, scoring 50 percent from outside the arc, while achieving an effective field goal share of 61.2 percent. Calling it the best track the striker had built in the Wizards for the fourth year, Brooks attributed Oubre's picking, decision-making and sustained stakes in both attacking and defending.
"He had two or three games playing really solid basketball on both ends," Brooks said, "and he just has to keep doing that."
In the crucial second quarter against the thunder, Oubre shook his head again in frustration. With Wizards' reserves scoring only two outside goals in the first four minutes of the quarter, Oubre resolved some of the irritating contradictions that hold the player back.
A sloppy turnover, as he brought the ball after a rebound to the top, led in the end to fast three. When next possession Oubre hired him again for a violation of travel. A five-point deficit at the beginning of the second quarter rose. Oubre played 32 minutes from the bench but missed all six of his three-point attempts, scoring 6 of 17 out of the field, ending with a breathtaking plus / minus of minus 30.
At the defensive end, Oubre complained that he and his teammates are unable to take defensive rebounds and be in transition again.
"Many teams are running out [in transition] In the city, it says, "We do not come back," he said. "We keep the teams comfortable, we have to disturb, it's what we do, we're not that bad, I think not in my heart. "
Oubre, the only reserve player with an average of double-digit score in the game and will be a limited free agent after the season, will likely continue to be the right person for a bank that is among the worst in the league. The unit is ranked 29th among the NBA benches in the field goal percentage and in the bottom 10 at a three point percentage, even though it is in the top ten scores. This is a statistic that is more likely due to the extended minutes that the Wizards reserves have gone into blowout losses. Other games by Oubre, like his previous three, scoring 30.8 percent from the field and 11.1 percent from three hits, are not enough to lift his 1-7 team to reach their lofty goals.
Like many of his teammates, he believes it's only a matter of time.
"I'm looking forward to putting all the pieces together in the puzzle," he said.
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