Wizards-Grizzlies Summer League highlights
Updated 11:20 p.m.
When Otto Porter missed most of Tuesday's game against Denver with right hamstring tightness, Jan Vesely stepped up offensively and the Wizards prevailed. With the injured Porter sitting out Wednesday's summer league tournament opener against Memphis - and possibly the remainder of the event-, it was Chris Singleton's moment for an aggressive showing.
Ultimately, the Wizards lost to the Grizzlies 90-83 due to turnovers and defensive miscues in the third quarter. Washington's best stretch came early when the third-year forward turned in his top overall performance of the tournament.
The loss put Washington (1-4) into the consolation bracket where it will face the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday at 6:30 pm ET. Comcast SportsNet will televise the Wizards' final summer league game.
After averaging 9.7 points during the opening three games, an assertive Singleton scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half, including 10 of Washington's first 16 points. He finished 6 of 9 from the field after shooting only 33.3 percent entering the tournament portion of summer league. Singleton also made all four of his free throws and had five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. For the full picture, he also had four turnovers and six fouls.
Once again active on both ends, Vesely had 15 points, nine rebounds and made six of his nine field goal attempts. Glen Rice Jr. finished with 14 points and Devin Booker added 11.
Washington trailed 48-47 at halftime after a spirited rally in the second quarter, but were outscored 25-8 in the third quarter, Even with their vets on the court, the Wizards were unable to stop losing possession of the ball - or Memphis' interior options from producing as scorers and rebounders.
The Wizards committed 20 turnovers - including six from Vesely -, were outrebounded 43-36 and shot 3 of 13 from beyond the 3-point arc. Outside of Vesely and Singleton, Washington shot 32.1 percent (18 for 56).
Former Notre Dame center Jack Cooley caused the most problems inside for the Wizards with 20 points and 12 rebounds, including six of the Grizzlies 20 offensive boards. Tony Wroten led Memphis with 23 points.
Singleton opened the scoring for Washington with a driving dunk off a Vesely drop pass. Next possession, the 6-foot-9 forward made a layup off a spinning drive. Moments later, Singleton drained a deep jumper from the right wing and showed that was no fluke by making the same shot later in the quarter.
As the first half turnovers piled up, Washington trailed 42-30. Then a deft dribble-drive by Vesely started a run of 13 straight points, capped by Singleton's fast break layup in traffic. The stretch ballooned to 17-2 with all of the points coming from the Wizards two veterans along with Rice and Dennis Horner.
Nobody is expecting the Florida State product to turn into Kevin Durant, but Singleton must become a shooting and scoring threat defenses respect in order to play steadily in the NBA, not to mention a better ball handler. Like Vesely, Singleton struggled with his confidence last season, if not flat out lost it at times. He's played with energy throughout the Las Vegas event, but in this game Singleton showed he could be forceful and efficient with the ball in his hands. Also worth noting his range is still not out to 3-point territory (0 for 2 in Vegas), meaning talk of him becoming Washington's stretch-four solution remains premature.
Rice growing up
During the opening games of the summer league, Rice seemingly never passed on a shooting opportunity, firing at the rim within a nanosecond of the ball landing in his hands. Signs of progress came during the second quarter run against Memphis, which included a banked 3-pointer by the second round pick.
First, Rice passed up an open look from beyond the arc to feed Horner inside, leading to free throws. Later, the wing guard twice displayed his court vision and unselfish streak by feeding an open teammate during a fast break opportunity. Baby steps, but they were noticeable and a welcome sign.
Overall against the Grizzlies, Rice still struggled with shot selection. He missed four of five 3-point tries and it took a few late inside baskets to make his shooting line presentable. Scoring 14 points on 13 shots is the opposite of efficiency. Now that Jordan Crawford is no longer on the roster and assuming Martell Webster starts, the Wizards need an instant offense type off the bench. Rice has that mentality and point-producing skill set, but it must be blended with Washington's pass-first approach in order for Randy Wittman to consider using the rookie.
What about Horner
Horner is one of the only players on the Wizards' summer league roster with any NBA experience. Fine, calling five points in 23 games during the 2011-12 season for the New Jersey Nets "NBA experience" might be a stretch, but the 6-foot-8 forward could be a stretch-four option come training camp.
Starting in place of Porter, Horner continued his display of solid fundamental basketball with a perimeter touch. He scored nine points, grabbed four rebounds and sank one of the Wizards' three 3-pointers. The former NC State product made 4 of 9 from beyond the arc in Las Vegas and 37.3 percent over the last two seasons with the D-League's Springfield Armor. Certainly not a sexy option, but the Wizards could give Horner a training camp tryout to see if he's worthy of their 15th roster spot.