Glen Rice, Jr. continues to excel in Wizards win over Heat

Glen Rice, Jr. continues to excel in Wizards win over Heat
July 15, 2014, 8:30 pm
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LAS VEGAS -- The Wizards might not have a player ready to join the short list of NBA regular season MVP contenders.

Their summer league roster on the other hand boasts an obvious candidate. Glen Rice Jr. has been that good.

With John Wall sitting courtside, Rice displayed his arsenal of scoring moves as he tallied 24 points including 16 in the first quarter, as the Washington Wizards defeated the Miami Heat for an 85-83 victory on Tuesday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Rice made 8 of 14 shots from the field and finished with seven rebounds and four assists. Otto Porter added 19 points on 7 of 13 shooting from the field while Khem Birch led the Wizards with 11 rebounds.

The Wizards improved to 3-0 for the first time since Wall played in 2010 thanks to the play of the young wings. The improvement shown by Rice and Porter from one year ago manifests itself beyond mere stats.

"Their swagger, you can see it from miles away," Wizards coach Sam Cassell said following the latest win. "They feel that they’re the best two ball players on the court, and it shows. 

The game concluded Washington’s primary schedule while the victory gave the Wizards a bye into the upcoming summer league tournament. Their first game of the knockout round takes place on Thursday.

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Rice provided the early punch. The 6-foot-6 wing confidently made 6 of 7 shots in the first quarter, including two 3-pointers. Some of the baskets came on open looks, but as he has throughout this event, Rice deftly worked through traffic to get off shots and thrived in contact situations. He flushed home an alley-oop pass from Porter in the third quarter.

Through three games, Rice is averaging 26 points while shooting 6 of 14 on 3-point attempts.

The rising second-year player remains a work in progress defensively, but Rice showed he has the goods when motivated. There was quality effort in spots against Miami rookie point guard Shabazz Napier and Rice blocked a bigger player’s shot at the rim.

Asked if Rice's play has helped his chances of cracking Washington's playing rotation next season, Cassell said, "(He) ain’t hurting himself, I’ll tell you that much. He’s opening eyes--just not for our team but around this league--that he can play the game of basketball."

Napier, Miami’s first round pick from Connecticut, finished 2 of 16 from the field for eight points. He missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer inside the final five seconds after the Heat forced a turnover in the backcourt while trailing 85-83.

Crisp ball movement and a 67 percent field goal percentage carried the Wizards to a 22-point lead in the first quarter. Sloppy play in the second half allowed the Heat to rally. Rice finished with six turnovers.

Porter also got caught up in the careless stretch with some forced passes and awkward shots, but overall displayed needed confidence on both ends of the court.

NEXT UP: The Wizards play again on Thursday at 8 ET in Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. They will face either the Clippers or the Heat after securing a first-round tournament bye as the No. 4 seed.