Las Vegas Council: Wizards Escape Heat, Move to 3-0 in Summer League | Wizards Blog Truth About

Las Vegas Council: Wizards Escape Heat, Move to 3-0 in Summer League

Updated: July 16, 2014

Adam Rubin, from Las Vegas, and Rashad Mobley, from back in the District, break down the Wizards’ third game in Las Vegas, a 85-83 win over the Miami Heat. Leggo…

[Rice Attack -- photo: K. Weidie]

[Rice Attack — photo: K. Weidie]

Optics on Otto.

For the majority of the game, Otto Porter seemed content to let Glen Rice do the heavy lifting on offense, while picking and choosing his spots to be aggressive. In the third quarter when Rice was frustrated by the refs, Porter calmly stepped in and scored seven points and dished out an assist, which came via a well-timed lob to Glen Rice.

Otto also grabbed seven boards, three of which came in the last three minutes of the game, where sloppy play by both teams seemed to be the name of the game, making each possession more valuable. He had no problems throwing his slight frame around to grab the crucial rebounds, and on two occasions his hustle on the offensive boards kept the possessions alive.

Otto’s only flaw of the night—and it was a flaw that plagued both he and Rice—was an inability to take care of the ball. Now, it can be argued that when John Wall, Andre Miller or even Bradley Beal are on the floor running the point, Porter will get more chances to display a brand new NBA mid-range jumper, and he won’t be forced into as many decision-making possessions as he was against the Heat. Still, all of Porter’s turnovers had the same cadence to them. Either he took two or three too many dribbles and made an ill-advised pass to bail himself out, or he just made a careless pass without having a good feel for where his teammates were on the court. In fact, Porter’s last turnover—a long inbounds pass that was inches beyond Maalik Wayns’ reach—almost cost the Wizards the game with 3.9 seconds left. And this came less than two seconds after Miami Heat forward James Nunnally hit a big basket right over Porter to bring the Heat within two points.

The most important takeaway from this game, and the three that Otto has played this summer, is that his confidence continues to grow as a result of these extended minutes on the court. If that means sitting through six turnovers to get 19 points and seven rebounds, than so be it …for now.

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)

STATS on Otto: 19 points, 7-13 FGs, 3-4 FTs, 7 rebounds, 1 ast, 1 stl, 6 TOs

[Otto baseline J -- photo: K. Weidie]

[Otto baseline J — photo: K. Weidie]

The Rice Report.

If a spaceship crashed in Nevada and its alien occupants watched Washington’s first three summer league games, I am pretty sure they would not be able to correctly identify who was the third pick and who was the 35th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Otto has certainly shown improvement this summer, but Glen Rice, Jr. entered Monday night’s game versus Miami like a man possessed. He drilled his first shot—a fade-away baseline jumper in front of Washington’s bench—and never looked back. Rice hit 6-of-7 field goals (2-for-2 3FGs) for 16 points in the first quarter and ended with 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting.

Rice played with a mean streak. He acted like he was insulted that his defender dared to stand between him and the basket. Rice and Otto are polar opposites in this regard. Where Porter fades away from contact in the paint, Rice aims straight for his defender’s chest.

But, as Sam Cassell pointed out after the game, Rice has to learn to keep his emotions in check. After being called for multiple offensive fouls, Rice began to lose his cool in the second half. Early in the third quarter he gave Danilo Barthel a hearty shove to the ground after Barthel committed a moving pick. Later in the third quarter Rice was called for a questionable offensive foul on a drive and he loudly protested with words that cannot necessarily be pixeled. He received a technical foul and was promptly removed from the game. Cassell walked over to calm him down, rubbing his head and telling him to relax. Rice was called for another offensive foul in the fourth quarter and once again reacted in disgust. This time Al Harrington played the role of big brother, yelling, “Next play, next play.”

Setting aside those few attitude issues, Rice has made clear that he is a man amongst boys in summer league. He can power his way to the lane—and the free throw line—at will. At one point late in the fourth quarter after Miami trimmed a once 20-point deficit down to just a few points, John Wall, who was sitting courtside, started yelling “14” on every offensive possession. Fourteen is Rice’s jersey number. Wall wanted everyone to throw Rice the damn ball. If Rice continues to play as he has these past two summer league games, Wall will be the one throwing the ball to Rice soon enough.

—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)

STATS on Glen: 24 points, 8-14 FGs, 2-4 3Ps, 6-8 FTs, 7 rebs, 4 asts, 7 PFs, 6 TOs

[Rice & Ref -- photo: K. Weidie]

[Rice & Ref — photo: K. Weidie]

Other Wizards Leaguers.

Midway through the second half, one media member commented that he likes it when Otto Porter and Glen Rice, Jr. are out of the game at the same time … because he can take a rest from following the game. Aside from Khem Birch, no other player on Washington’s summer league team has a realistic shot at making the regular season roster. But part of the fun of summer league is watching undrafted players and cast-offs fight and claw alongside their more glamorous lottery pick counterparts for a coveted training camp invite.

To that point, Khem Birch strengthened the argument in favor of an invite with his aggressive play versus Miami. Birch grabbed 11 rebounds in 23 minutes and was 3-for-3 from the field. Birch’s ability to pull down rebounds in traffic is impressive, but it remains to be seen whether he can be as effective against NBA-level talent.

One Washington Wizards fan who travelled to Vegas and is best known in MCI Center lore as the “Pizza Shot guy” offered the following scouting report on Birch: “He attacks the glass well and has a strong second jump. He can move his feet but drifts backwards too much on pick-and-roll defense. Birch has great extension and timing on blocks. He makes strong runs to the rim but is too weak to catch in traffic.”

I tend to agree. Birch falls into the “undersized, hustling forward” mold that Ernie Grunfeld loves (e.g., Dominic McGuire, Trevor Booker). Sam Cassell also seems to agree. One game after comparing Birch to Serge Ibaka, Cassell noted that Birch fit a need for the team. This was, of course, before the Wizards acquired DeJuan Blair in a sign-and-trade.

[Ed. Note – In a bizarre twist of fate, The Pizza Shot guy was selected to shoot a half court shot during Washington’s second summer league game versus Minnesota. Sadly, the results were not as memorable.]

Moving down the bench, Daniel Orton returned to action for the third game in Las Vegas after missing the previous game with a mildly strained calf. Maybe the Kris Humphries and Drew Gooden signings lit a fire under him. Then again, Orton probably knew that a roster spot was not in the cards. Orton did provide some comic relief at the end of the bench. Late in the fourth quarter with the game seemingly out of reach the refs called a ticky-tack foul on a reach-in. To Orton, and everyone else in the arena, the foul call did nothing except extend the length of the game. Orton registered his disagreement with the ref, “If he touches his forearm, it’s not a foul.” Then, after a pause, Orton added, “I just want go home.”

And remember those two no-look passes that Orton threw in Washington’s opening summer league game versus Atlanta? Orton was asked where he got those passing skills. Orton said that he patterns that part of his game after Arvydas Sabonis—one of the greatest passing big men in history.

—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)


What Happened: The Game

During the first quarter, the Comcast SportsNet crew of Steve Buckhantz, Phil Chenier and Chris Miller were reminiscing about the NBA Finals this past June, when the Spurs easily disposed of the Heat in five games. They discussed how the incredible ball movement of the Spurs on offense, led to cohesive, aggressive showings on the defensive end. The CSN crew’s observations about the Spurs in June could have easily been used to describe the very team they were covering last night—in the first quarter at least.

Glen Rice, Jr. scored 16 of the Wizards’ 32 points in that first period (the Heat had just 14) but it truly took a village for the Wizards to establish a lead that went as high as 22 points with 2:46 left in the quarter. Otto Porter took the open shots from long and mid-range, Khem Birch had five points and five rebounds (two offensive), Maalik Wayns did a decent job of running the offense and pushing the tempo, but a better job at harassing Shabazz Napier into rushed shots, and an offensive foul. Even Daniel Orton got into the act by hitting an improbable jumper and the following free throw. No wonder the CSN crew was riffing about the NBA Finals, because the Wizards were threatening to run away with the game.

But just as the Wizards did in the first two summer league games, they gave the opposing team hope by taking quick shots, turning the ball over, and relaxing on defense. Not only did this give the Heat energy on the offensive end of the floor, but in the second half, the Heat began to jump the passing lanes and create easy baskets for themselves. The Wizards only led by eight points after three quarters, and they closed the lead to two points with seconds left, before a Napier miss all but ended the game.

Rice and Porter continued to carry the offensive load for the Wizards, but there were other performances of note. Birch continued to be the Wizards’ energy guy with seven points and 11 rebounds. Jamil Wilson scored 10 points, but seven of those came in the beginning of the fourth quarter when the Wizards offense (mainly Rice) had grown stagnant. Still, Sam Cassell and the rest of the staff were visibly annoyed at the Wizards’ inability to maintain intensity on both ends of the floor.

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)

Bullets on Ex-Bullets.

  • The Wizards bench, led by Sam Cassell and Al Harrington, is one of the loudest in summer league. Cassell is up and yelling almost every play and Harrington often jumps out of his chair with excitement and words of encouragement.
  • Cassell is always looking for an opportunity to teach, especially when dealing with his point guards. At one point in the second half, Daniel Theis threw a pass to point guard Deonte Burton. Unfortunately, Burton had cut in the opposite direction and the ball sailed out of bounds. Burton walked back down the court saying, “Not me, not me.” Cassell corrected him, “You are the point guard. In this league, it’s always you.” Cassell then turned to his bench and told Maalik Wayns to sub out Burton.
  • Heat guard Tyler Johnson out of Fresno State provided one of the highlights of the game with a thunderous put-back dunk. Johnson, who is left-handed, was a thorn in Washington’s side all game, shooting 6-for-9 (5-6 FT) for 17 points in 25 minutes. Al Harrington spent much of the game yelling that Johnson was left handed every time he touched it, but the warning seemed to fall on deaf ears.

—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)

[Jamil Wilson jumper -- photo: K. Weidie]

[Jamil Wilson jumper — 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.