Summer fun ends as Kings trump Wizards

Summer fun ends as Kings trump Wizards
July 20, 2014, 10:30 pm
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As with most trips to Las Vegas, it was fun while it lasted.

As a reminder, the actual result matters little, if at all. The entire point of summer league involves player development, not wins and losses. In that sense, the six games represent success as far as Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. go.

That said the NBA does keep score. The last undefeated team is undefeated no more. Washington's 2014 summer league adventure ended with a 74-62 loss to Sacramento in the semifinal round of the Las Vegas summer league.

Whether there were tired legs defensively or lacking ball movement on offense or the Kings simply had more NBA talent, the Wizards started slow. Like Bay Bridge traffic heading back to D.C. on a Sunday night slow. Washington trailed by 26 points in the first half and 45-24 at halftime. Rice glared at officials following one apparent injustice after another while the team clanked 3-pointer after 3-pointer.

Like Friday night's game against San Antonio, that wasn't the end of the story. Washington's two leaders refocused at halftime and led a rally that cut Sacramento's lead to single digits. Porter showed more of his crafty scoring and playmaking abilities while Rice went after the ball no matter the scenario or its location.

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Ultimately, the deficit was too deep. After a weeklong run of good fortune, the Wizards rolled snake eyes.

Rice finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and six steals. Barring the miraculous from those on Sacramento or Houston in Monday's championship game, Rice will lead the Vegas summer league with 25 points per game.

However, this wasn't his most efficient of performances. Rice needed 23 field goal attempts for those 24 points. He missed eight of nine 3-point attempts, though he was hardly alone in misfiring from distance; Washington finished 3 of 29.

Not only did the 23-year-old miss shots, he lost his cool more than once. Rice lived at the free throw line in Las Vegas, but visibly and audibly disagreeing with the officials will lead to rarer trips. Learning to play through emotion is the next step and something that in theory comes with maturity. 

As for Porter, because he's not terribly big or quick, it's a wonder at times how he's able to get off shots in traffic or when well defended. The thing is he does. Porter showed strong footwork in Vegas and flashed his innate ability to find space throughout.

Again, this wasn't his best game of the week -- 7 of 18 from the field, 0 of 5 from beyond the arc, some first-half defensive struggles keeping up with Kings rookie Nik Stauskas. Obviously, he must get stronger, like immediately. Yet considering the doom and gloom talk from some onlookers following his limited rookie season, Porter did more than enough to please his fans and quiet the critics.

Both second-year wings headed to Las Vegas with much to prove. Between Porter's crafty mid-range game and all-court game, between Rice's scoring prowess and assertive style, they did just that.

The pair also has a lengthy to-do list before training camp starts or before Randy Wittman feels comfortable with them in the rotation. In that sense, perhaps a semi-blowout loss is the ideal result. Besides, nobody ever really leaves Vegas a winner.

Khem Birch started, but played less than eight minutes, finishing with two points and three rebounds. Washington went with a smaller lineup in comeback mode. Perhaps that played a factor in his limited playing time. Since the UNLV product shined most of the event, one scouted by every NBA team, the idea that the Wizards would hide him doesn't fly. Regardless, the shot blocker is the non-roster player with the best shot at a training camp invitation. Birch might have received more than that if not for the Wizards currently having six big men on the roster.

Marshawn Brooks, one of six NBA caliber players on Sacramento's roster, led the Kings with 14 points.

Porter and Rice both finished among the top-9 in minutes played. The deeper Kings didn't have anyone crack the top 20.