Third times a charm, right?
Washington wins their first game of the season 125-124 in an overtime thriller against Portland on Monday evening. Markieff Morris, who likely turned in his best game in a Wizard uniform led the team with 28 points with a career-high six three-pointers with four of them coming down the stretch in the fourth quarter and in the overtime period. Kelly Oubre, who also turned in one of his best games in a Wizard uniform scored 22 points on 9-13 as the Wizards get in the win column with an impressive road victory.
Bradley Beal, who scored 51 points the last time he stepped foot in the Moda Center had a bounce to him from the get-go. He started the game 3-3 from three-point range and was getting to the basket at ease en route to 19 first-half points.
Both teams shot the ball well in what turned into somewhat of a track meet and we’d be all tied up at 62 at halftime.
Things came to a screeching halt in the third quarter as the teams only combined for 31 points in the period but the Wizards led, 78-77 entering the fourth quarter.
And that’s when things started to heat up. Whenever one team threw a punch, the other team had a counter. A late three from Al-Farouq Aminu in the corner put the Blazers up 102-97 and looked to be the dagger for the Wizards. However, Washington would counter with a Kelly Oubre layup and the foul to go along with a three-pointer from the wing from Morris to give the Wizards a fighting chance.
With Washington trailing by 3 with 15 seconds to play, John Wall found himself with the ball in his hands but passed up an open three to find Beal who drilled the three to tie the game at 111 and we’d be heading to overtime.
Markieff Morris came up big with another three-pointer from the same exact spot in the overtime as the Wizards were trying to pull away.
But with seconds remaining, the bank was open late in Portland as John Wall pulled up from the corner and drilled a shot off the glass giving Washington the 123-119 lead.
Wall would have a chance to tack onto that lead but missed two crucial free throws with just six seconds to play. Regardless, Washington hangs on for the victory.
Kelly Oubre Jr. has his best game as a Wizard
After two head-scratching performances through the first two games, Oubre had turned in his best effort of the season and probably his career. The four-year player was instant energy off the bench with 22 points and six rebounds on 9-13 shooting while knocking down all three of his three-point attempts.
Oubre was outstanding tonight evidenced as Brooks trusted him enough to play him nearly 40 minutes. The Wizards played a ton of small ball tonight and it was Oubre who was on the court not for his offense, but for his activity on defense and commitment to defensive rebounding.
The box score doesn’t tell the whole story as you’ll only see one block and one steal, however, Oubre was on-time with his defensive rotations, had multiple deflections, and was committed to defensive rebounding.
If the Wizards can get this Kelly Oubre off the bench consistently, they’ll be a scary team.
Markieff Morris has his best game as a Wizard
Markieff Morris was also outstanding tonight with 28 points on 9-15 shooting to go along with a career-high six made three-pointers. Down the stretch, whenever the Wizards needed a big basket, Morris provided it. Morris knocked down four of his six three-pointers in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter and the overtime period to give Washington a fighting chance in this one.
Not only was Morris knocking down his three-point attempts, but they also went to him on the block on multiple occasions and he came through with a bucket. Morris, who was forced to play center for most of the evening came up big on the defensive end and like Oubre, he was committed to defensive rebounding and crashing the glass.
If the Wizards can get this Markieff Morris on a consistent basis, they’ll be a scary team.
Small ball comes up big
The Wizards had no choice but to play small ball for most of the game on Monday. Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith were ineffective in the first quarter and Mahinmi left the game with back spasms giving coach Brooks no other option but to go small.
It paid off on the offensive end as the spacing was on point resulting in guys getting more open looks than usual. Even more importantly, everyone was committed on the defensive end, specifically, crashing the glass which really allowed the small ball lineups to flourish.
With the injury to Mahinmi, it looks like we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of this going forward.