Wake-up call: Rice's aggression pays off

Wake-up call: Rice's aggression pays off
December 13, 2013, 8:00 am
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(Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports)

With Martell Webster in the starting lineup again, Glen Rice will be headed back to the bench for the Wizards. Reading between the lines with coach Randy Wittman, the rookie will get significant playing time for the second game in a row when they play Friday at the Atlanta Hawks (CSN+, 7:30 p.m. ET).

In talking about the struggles of Eric Maynor and his reserves, who average an NBA low 18.6 points, Wittman went out of his way to exclude Rice from the group. Aggression isn't a problem with him.

"I give Glen credit for that," Wittman said. "I might have to pull aside Glen, 'Hey, slow down.' I'd rather do that."

Rice scored seven points in 29 minutes of a 75-74 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday. He also had a steal in the waning minute that gave the Wizards (9-11) a chance to pull out the victory, but they couldn't convert. He had three steals for the game. 

[RELATED: Eric Maynor says 'best of me coming here soon']

Rice's three-point shot hasn't been a factor as expected. He's only shooting 25% in the nine games in which he has played. He's even worse from long range at 23.1%. But his teammates have joked since training camp that Rice isn't shy about launching shots. 

"It's going to come around. I'm working on it," Rice said of his shooting touch. "I can shoot the ball as many people have seen in the D-League. I'm not worried about that. Can't make the shot unless you take it."

Without Bradley Beal in the lineup, and Webster starting as a result, the Wizards desperately need a scorer with the second unit. It seems to be a lot to put on a rookie, but they don't have much choice. And given Rice's personality the guess here is that he's more than capable of handling it. 

The key will be how much, if at all, Wittman plays Rice with another rookie, Otto Porter, who will see action for the third time after being on the shelf with a right hip flexor strain.

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