Las Vegas Council: Rice Cooks Wolves for a Wizards Game 2 Win | Wizards Blog Truth About

Las Vegas Council: Rice Cooks Wolves for a Wizards Game 2 Win

Updated: July 14, 2014

TAI’s Kyle Weidie and Adam Rubin are once again out in Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League. The Washington Wizards won their second game over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday evening, 67-61. The coverage…

[Glen Rice Jr. for the jumper -- photo: K. Weidie]

[Glen Rice Jr. for the jumper — photo: K. Weidie]

Optics on Otto.

If Saturday night was Otto’s coming out party, Sunday night was Rice’s turn in the spotlight.

Otto started the game with a confident mid-range jumper but he was Washington’s second option for the rest of the night. As a result, he played a lot more off the ball than in the previous game and did not have an opportunity to display his full offensive arsenal. Nevertheless, Porter remained active and engaged, often keeping possessions alive with offensive rebounds and hustle.

If there was one negative, it was his continued inability to finish in the lane and win loose balls in traffic. Otto tends to finish drives with fadeway shots instead of forcing contact—a skill he could learn from Rice (who’s averaging double-digit free throw attempts so far).

Similarly, Otto has trouble corralling rebounds in traffic. He gets his hands on plenty of balls but does not seem to come away with possession as often as he should. Very Vesely-like.

—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)

STATS on Otto: 13 points, 6-16 FGs, 1-2 FTs, 5 rebs, 2 asts, 1 PF, 1 TO

The Rice Report.

Sam Cassell had high praise for Glen Rice after a 67-61 win over the Timberwolves on Sunday evening. Rice scored a game-high 22 points on 7-for-14 field goals, 4-for-8 3-pointers, and 4-for-7 from the free throw line. Said Cassell:

“On our team, in the winter, we got one guy who can get us in the penalty, and that’s John Wall. And I think Glen Rice could be the other guy. He’s going to make it hard for somebody [guarding him].”

On Saturday, Rice also had 22 points but earned 14 of those from the free throw line (16 attempts) and missed both of his 3-pointers. Free throw attempts weren’t as abundant on Sunday (7), but Rice was able to display his 3-point shooting stroke. “That one reminded me of his father,” said one scout within earshot after one make.

The praise from Cassell was interesting. When Bradley Beal was coming into the NBA, it was presumed that he would be able to get to the free throw line at a high rate. There was the one aspect about Beal coming up against his jumbo-sized, football-playing brothers at the local Y. And in his five Summer League games as a rookie in 2012, Beal got to the line 36 times (making 26, 72%)—some suspected Beal’s 7.2 FTAs per game came with being a top 3 pick playing in Las Vegas.

In his freshman year at Florida, Beal averaged 5.5 free throw attempts per 40 minutes (pace adjusted, via Draft Express). Over three seasons at Georgia Tech (the third being a partial), Rice’s FTAs per 40 rates went as such: 2.9, 4.6, and 4.4. The question is begged: Rice has 23 free throw attempts through two summer league games. With Beal coming back to earth as an NBA player (his 3.1 FTAs per 40 minutes as an NBA soph was lower than Kyle Singler’s rate of 3.2), can Glen Rice really become the second free throw creator after John Wall?

Maybe. First, consider that Rice would be doing such off the bench—and per Cassell’s words, you could guess that the Wizards are serious about finding more time for him this season. Second, Rice is 6-foot-6 while Beal is 6-foot-3 (although, last summer Beal grew closer to 6-foot-5, in shoes).

“I’ve seen my dad do it a lot. But that mainly comes from being a bigger 2 guard,” said Rice when I asked him where he learned his ability to put defenders on his hip to create spacing in attacking the basket. “Sometimes they’re a little faster, so I have to be able to use my body and get that shot up.”

On Sunday, Rice was consistently able to get to the rim and finish through contact—something Otto Porter needs to learn. One caveat was that Rice was often guarded by the frail Alexey Shved, but whether it was against him or other Las Vegas victims, he was consistently able to hang in the air and get a good shot off.

“Normally, I’m just up there a little longer than most people,” Rice said. Maybe he can be a second attacker off the bench, especially with his threat to bomb from deep. Now how much of a chance will Randy Wittman ultimately give him remains to be seen.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

STATS on Glen: 22 points, 7-14 FGs, 4-8 3Ps, 4-7 FTs, 6 rebs, 3 asts, 3 PFs, 3 stls, 3 TOs

Other Wizards Leaguers.

Khem Birch, annexed to an undrafted free agent when he could have very well been pick No. 46, continues to build clout in Vegas, having also attended U.N.L.V. (he’s had the luxury of playing in the familiar Thomas & Mack Center).

Birch was once again active in all areas of the court on Sunday night—a stat line of eight points, six rebounds, four blocked shots, and nine fouls will convey that; he also had a team-high plus/minus of plus-13. He is great at filling the open lanes, especially when passers need an outlet. The 6-foot-9 Birch also sneakily blocked shots, quickly eating up space opposing guards assumed was available. He even displayed a couple nice instances of paint footwork to combat claims that his overall offensive game is lacking (still is, but he’s got to grow somehow).

I asked Sam Cassell to draw comparisons between Birch and a current NBA player:

“He’s a shot blocker. He’s a quick jumper. He’s like … Serge Ibaka. He’s a quick jumper. He’s not as strong, he’s not as big, but he’s effective.”

And that’s the issue that might ultimately keep Birch off the Wizards. Birch is about an inch shorter, 20 pounds lighter, and has about three inches less of wingspan than Ibaka. The rest of free agency remains to be seen, but the Wizards really need a veteran rim protector to play behind Gortat, especially if he gets into foul trouble. Nene, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, DeJuan Blair, Drew Gooden (even though he played some backup center last season), and others of that ilk don’t exactly fit the description. Then again, if Birch continues to impress, how can the Wizards leave him off the roster?

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

What Happened: The Game

There were a lot of familiar faces in Thomas & Mack Center as Washington took on Minnesota. Ryan Saunders was handling coaching duties for the Wolves, Flip Saunders was watching from the stands, and Milt Newton had a baseline seat next to the Wizards bench. While there were plenty of smiles and hugs after the final horn, first there was the serious business of a Summer League basketball game.

Washington started the game off strong and built an early lead off transition baskets and aggressive shooting from Glen Rice, Jr.

In familiar Wizards’ form they let the Wolves back in it with some sloppy play. I looked up at the scoreboard for the first time in a few minutes mid-way through the second quarter and was surprised to see the Wizards down by one. It felt like they should be winning by a good margin.

The same pattern played out in the second half with Washington jumping out to a double-digit third quarter lead behind Rice, Rice and more Rice, only to let Minnesota back within striking distance early in the fourth quarter.

The coaching staff, led by Sam Cassell and Pat Sullivan, were not happy with the team’s anemic fourth quarter effort. The coaches even took the rare step of re-inserting their starters late in the game.

But, as is the case with most Summer League games (and especially the final game on a Sunday night that was delayed due to an earlier double-overtime game), the story is more about individual performances than the final score. In that regard, this game belonged to Glen Rice, who was aggressive from the start and never let up.

—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)

Bullets on Ex-Bullets.

  • At the insistence of Sam Cassell, Washington pushed the ball early. During one early timeout, Sam told his team to look for the lob whenever it was available.
  • Rice and Cassell had a slight disagreement on one first half offensive possession. Rice was standing in the lane while the point guard was trying to post up Otto. Cassell began screaming, “Get out of there, get off there. Pay attention.” The pair had a testy, but professional, exchange during the next stoppage of play.

—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)

  • At one point, Minnesota’s Alexey Shved was getting ready to take the ball out of bounds. Glen Rice asked the ref how close he could get, and the ref let him get right up on the line. Shved made a face, and players on the sidelines for the Timberwolves weighed in. “Chillax,” the ref said to the Minnesota players. “You’re near your own bench.” It was a funny moment…Rice was amused.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

[Alexey Shved and Glen Rice -- photo: K. Weidie]

[Alexey Shved and Glen Rice — photo: K. Weidie]

Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.