WASHINGTON — It may not be running into a phone booth, but the Wizards’ performance in ending the Philadelphia 76ers’ seven-game winning streak was spurred on by Kelly Oubre Jr. being able to have his alter ego coming out on the floor.
The latest impressive showing for the Wizards on the court came in a 109-94 victory over the Sixers, arguably the hottest team in the NBA going into the game, as Washington moved to 9-3 since John Wall left the lineup after having knee surgery that will keep him out until just before the start of the NBA Playoffs. Part of what has allowed Washington to, somehow, play even better without the team’s best player in the lineup is the increased production of the team’s role players, including Oubre Jr. – the young man who switches between Oubre Jr. and “Wave Papi,” the name he coined for his mellow, easy-going alter ego.
Tonight, Wave Papi torched the Sixers for 19 points in 31 minutes off the bench, as he hit four three-pointers while also providing rugged defense on the perimeter against Philadelphia point forward Ben Simmons.
“We let Kelly be Kelly. Kelly’s Kelly. He brings a lot of energy, a little Wave Papi to the floor,” said Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who led all Wizards scorers with 24 points. “We feed off of that. I always tell him: stay in the game no matter what’s going on. You control your emotions, you control how you play, the intensity that you bring. He’s gotten a lot better at that. He’s shooting the ball well, playing well offensively and defensively he’s one of our best defenders, if not the best. So, whenever he’s active and in the game, we like our chances.”
Any team’s chances to win any game increase when 35 of a team’s 43 field goals made are assisted, which was exactly the case with the Wizards, who opened up a 19-point lead at the half and held a 23-point lead late in the third quarter.
“We made them miss a lot of shots and that’s what we have to continue to do is to continue to fight for one another on the defensive end and score,” said Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. “That’s what I tell the guys. Play your butts off on the defensive end, help each other out, trust each other, and you’ll score after you get a stop. And that’s what we did throughout the game. We countered everything that they threw at us. They made a late run but we seem to always make the right play and we made big shots.”
Joel Embiid led all scorers with 25 points for the 76ers, but the team only shot 36 percent (31-for-86) for the game and only made nine of their 33 three-point attempts.
“I give the Wizards a lot of credit. They made tough shots,” said Sixers head coach Brett Brown. “They made shots at the end of shot clocks, I think six times, five times. But I thought that we had a spirit to our defense. It conveyed into some decent offense and we took 23 points and brought it back to eight.”