Another loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and a blowout in Charlotte overshadowed a positive road win over Detroit for the Washington Wizards. But those two losses did not eclipse the strong week that up-and-coming wingman Kelly Oubre delivered, showcasing the skill set and improved play that could have him locked in as a future core piece of the team.

Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

At 26-20, the Wizards sit fifth in the East standings and are one game out of first place in the Southeast Division behind the Miami Heat. The Wizards are in the middle of a five-game road trip that won’t conclude until a visit to Atlanta on Jan. 27. At 1-1 after the opening two games, the Wizards have a lot more work to do before they can call this road trip successful. The AFRO recaps the week that was for the Washington Wizards.

The Bucks pose a different challenge for the Wizards, one that they might not be equipped to handle just yet. Washington’s strength is its backcourt, while Milwaukee relies on its athletic front court—a mismatch which was exposed in the Bucks’ 104-95 win over the Wizards at Capital One Arena on Jan. 15. John Wall (27 points) and Bradley Beal (19 points) were the only Washington starters to score in double figures as the Bucks frontcourt outscored the Wizards’ trio, 50-18. Oubre’s 19 points off the bench were a game-high among both teams’ reserves; his performance overshadowed a second bitter loss to Milwaukee in a span of just 10 days.

A Jan. 17 road game in Charlotte turned into a laugher by the end of the third quarter, as Washington was blasted 133-109. The Wizards went into the half down 16 points and trailed 102-79 as they limped into the final quarter. A lack of defense and effort once again doomed the Wizards, who allowed seven Hornets players to score in double-figures. Beal led all Wizards with 26 points while Oubre (16 points) and Mike Scott (18 points) led the reserves off the bench.

In a more impressive road outing, Washington used a 76-point second half to bounce back from a 15-point first half deficit and knock off the Detroit Pistons, 122-112, on Jan. 19. Beal and Oubre each delivered a game-high 26 points, and Oubre’s energy off the bench in the first half provided Washington with the spark they needed to come alive. Wall went scoreless before the half, but added 16 points after intermission. Washington held a 20-point lead heading into the final quarter, but the Pistons carved that margin down to as few as four points late in the contest. A pair of three-pointers from Wall and Oubre buoyed the Wizards, who connected on 8-of-9 attempts from the foul line to keep the Pistons at bay.

Next: The Wizards return to action on Jan. 22 with a road matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. Washington will need to crank up its defense, having allowed 100 points or more in 18 straight games. The last time Washington prevented an opponent from scoring more than 100 points was last month, in a 93-87 win against Memphis on Dec. 13.

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO