- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2018

Wizards forward Kelly Oubre fell to the floor on a foul and before he got up, he did a set of push-ups — right at the feet of Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons.

Later on, Oubre hit the deck again, this time drawing an offensive foul on Simmons. Oubre, who hit the deck like he got blasted by a cannon, grinned as he walked away with the call in hand.

Both moves were Oubre at his finest — not backing down to Simmons, or the challenge in front of him.

“That’s just me, I’m extra,” Oubre said of his push-ups.

Oubre, though, is not an extra thought in the Wizards’ offense. The best version of it has him involved, creating a difference off the bench. And that’s exactly what happened in the Wizards’ 109-94 win Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers. Oubre had 19 points, including 4-of-7 from deep.

The performance marked the third straight game in which Oubre shot 45 percent or better.

And after a rough start to the month, Oubre finding his jumper is a relief for the Wizards. He entered Sunday’s matchup shooting just 33 percent and 23.9 percent from long range in February, which contributed to him going 11-for-24 against Cleveland and Charlotte.

“He’s been pretty consistent throughout the year, [but] he had that stretch of bad shooting,” coach Scott Brooks said. “Hopefully, he’s out of it.”

Oubre checked into the game early after Markieff Morris picked up his second foul. Soon after, he drilled his first 3-pointer, a wide-open look from the corner. He found his rhythm from there, filling up the stat sheet quickly.

Oubre typically brings hustle, and his energy helped spark the Wizards. Following a 30-28 first quarter, the Wizards outscored the 76ers 37-20 in the second. A large reason for the run was Oubre, who had 16 of his 19 points by halftime.

He was particularly effective with Otto Porter, who shot 62.5 percent and had 23 points.

“We need 3-point shooters on the floor, and we have them,” Brooks said. “Kelly‘s, his last couple of games, he’s been able to make his 3s. When his feet are set, he can make 3s. I still think we should shoot more than 25 [attempts].”

Oubre said he’s constantly focusing on his mechanics. Since being drafted in 2015, he said the development of his shot has been a “three-year process.” He’s focused on his lower body, then the upper. During his slump, Oubre said he tried to stay confident and remember his “teaching points.”

The Wizards have seen the impact Oubre can have when the stakes are higher. While he’s progressed every year of his career, Oubre had a breakthrough in the 2017 playoffs — emerging in the Celtics series.  On a thin roster, Oubre’s development will be key. 

But for now, Washington will value what Oubre brings. Brooks praised Oubre’s defense in handling not only Simmons, but also guards J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli. Oubre said he “didn’t want to look stupid” against a player like Simmons.

On Sunday, Oubre was back to playing with swagger.

He even singled out a reason why he was especially active against Philadelphia.

“My energy never really goes away,” Oubre said, “but I was watching Knightfall earlier [Sunday]. It’s a great show on the History Channel, you should check it out. Yeah, I mean it’s about Jesus and everything. But I think God gave the energy to go out there and stay locked in to help us get this win.”

 

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