Call them brothers in kookiness.
Brandon Jennings and Kelly Oubre Jr. provide the Washington Wizards‘ bench group flair, cockiness, pot-stirring and, at times, redeeming play. Much of that was on the display in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday when Oubre lost his mind and Jennings tried get into the one owned by Celtics backup point guard Terry Rozier. All three of those players were ejected.
Oubre was thrown out in the second quarter after steaming toward Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk. Olynyk had set a hard and high pick on Oubre, which knocked him to the floor. Oubre sprang up. He had options. Multiple times during the season, Oubre would jump up after being knocked to the floor. He would then give a first-down motion and sashay up the court. Or he would shake his head, making his puffy hair bounce. Or scream. He did none of those. Instead, he chose to sprint at Olynyk, who was arguing with a referee.
When Oubre made contact, Olynyk went flying to the floor. An ejection soon followed. Looming over Oubre’s enraged decision to charge Olynyk is the NBA’s league office. He could be suspended for Sunday’s Game 4 against Boston. As of Friday afternoon, neither he or Wizards coach Scott Brooks had heard from the league office.
“Whatever the league does, they do,” Oubre said.
“It was just reoccurring events,” Oubre said. “I’ve been hit in the head multiple times by the same person. I’ve confronted him about it. but, the last time it happened, I felt pain in my head and my jaw. I got up and I ran into him and I bumped him and that’s all that happened.”
Oubre received a flagrant-2 foul and was ejected. After Bradley Beal held a conversation with him on the court, Oubre walked to the back, trailed by his father. Following halftime, he took a shower as the third quarter began. When he emerged, there was Jennings sitting at his locker and looking at his phone.
“I was like, ‘Oh, you too, bro?’” Oubre said.
Jennings was harassing Rozier in his typical fashion during the fourth quarter. Jennings bumped the Celtics’ second-year player, then said some things to him, then flailed, then bumped, then said more things. Eventually, Rozier took the bait with back-to-back fouls. A technical foul on Jennings followed when he ran up the court and said something right into Rozier’s left ear. Rozier received a technical, too. Both were later thrown out when they received another round of double technicals.
This was not their first run-in. In March, he and Rozier got into it during the regular season. Also in Game 1 of this series, Rozier lost his shoe during play. As he tried to put it back on, Jennings noticed, ran over and stepped on it.
“So, I mean, he’s a young boy,” Jennings said. “Did some vet moves and just tried to get into him mentally. It actually worked.”
Why was Jennings smiling when he explained that?
“Because as long as I can get the edge — if I can get you to not think about playing basketball and you want to do other things, I felt like I won,” Jennings said. “That’s what I did.”
Both Jennings and Oubre explained Friday they have found common ground by being uncommon. Oubre is a fan of art and fashion who is just learning the league. Jennings has been crawling under the skin of opponents for seven years.
“Hey, man, that’s my brother,” Oubre said. “We kind of move on the same string sometimes.”
“Kelly’s my young boy,” Jennings said. “It’s kind of like, when Kelly gets kicked out, I’m probably next. I know probably with the organization, they probably looking like listen, we got these two crazy dudes coming off the bench. We don’t know which one is going to get kicked out tonight.”
Washington wants both around for Sunday’s Game 4. The Wizards are finally whole again thanks to Ian Mahinmi’s return from a left calf injury that he suffered April 10. Their rotation has clarity and their bench options are full. But, as Jennings said, no one can predict what will happen with him or Oubre. For better or worse.
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