REAX Game 5: Wizards, Losers in Vegas, Take Home Consolation Prize
[The Washington Wizards beat the New Orleans Pelicans, 78-77, in the consolation round of the Las Vegas Summer League Playoffs. (Playoffs!) The win doubled their total, but they’re still going home with an empty wallet and a lot of questions to answer.]
That was … a real team effort, I guess.
Every Wizards player who saw game action—with the exception of Lorne Jackson—got on the board with at least three points. And three Wizards reached double-digits in the win: Chris Singleton (11), Glen Rice, Jr. (14) and the big surprise, Sundiata Gaines (15), who shot 5-for-8 from the field in a scrappy performance.
Trailing by five points at halftime, the Wizards bounced back with a steady third quarter and trusted their ball movement and motion offense, instead of their 3-point shooting, to steal the lead—and hold on to it in the final minutes of the contest.
Dennis Horner’s trip to the free throw line.
Moments earlier, Austin Rivers raced down the court, his Pelicans down 3, hoping to tie the game with a shot from beyond the arc. But Sam Cassell was hollering from the sideline to foul (they had one to give). Rice, Jr. obliged, stopping the transition attack, which allowed the Wizards to huddle up before a critical defensive stand.
The ball made its way to Darius Miller (who finished with 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting), but Chris Singleton stayed on his feet as he closed out, forcing Miller into a tougher, leaning 3-point attempt which hit the front iron. Horner grabbed the defensive rebound, got fouled, and made the second of two attempts from the free throw line to extend Washington’s lead to four points.
That second free throw proved to be the game-winning score, as Brian Roberts banked home a three-quarter-court shot at the buzzer.
Glen Rice, Jr.
I’ll give his (sometimes lax) defense a pass, because he commanded attention from the Pelicans D. Rice showed off his offensive prowess in a number of ways: posting up a smaller Austin Rivers, following up misses with offensive boards and put-backs, hitting walk up 3-pointers in transition, nailing shots on handoffs, dunking on people on cuts to the hoop, and passing the ball—on time—to available teammates.
Rice helped spark a 12-0 run to start the third quarter. He scored seven points in about three and half minutes, and while he was officially credited with one assist to Horner, Rice should have had another after dishing the rock to Jan Vesely, who finished a three-point play on a roll to the rim.
The rook finished with 14 points on nine attempts (3-for-4 from deep), four rebounds, three assists, and a swat.
Devin Booker. He looked … like the least valuable player out there, and the box score doesn’t do him any favors: a turnover, a steal, a foul, an assist, a rebound, and three points on 1-for-6 shooting from the field in 13 minutes.
Let’s keep it moving, folks. Nothing to see here.
Austin River’s speed. During the halftime break, NBA TV analyst Sam Mitchell called the mercurial Rivers the best player on either team. And he was right. Rivers had two assists, one steal and one rebound to go with 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting from the field. The Wiz could only force him into one first-half jumper, because Rivers was shaking and baking and feasting at the rim. No one on the Wizards’ roster could keep up.