Shelvin Mack knew that he couldn’t be tentative and indecisive if the Wizards hoped to have any success at NBA Summer League. Tomas Satoransky knew that there was something behind his playful trash talk with fellow Czech Jan Vesely about which player was a better dunker. And Bradley Beal knew that if he just stayed patient and made plays for others, his offensive game would eventually come after a slow start
With Mack playing and assertive and self-assured, Satoransky showcasing his above-the-rim skills and Beal playing another steady, fully-in-control game, the Wizards defeated the Houston Rockets, 76-70, on Saturday at Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
After an embarrassing 20-point loss in their debut against the Atlanta Hawks, the Wizards bounced back nicely in the nightcap of the summer league quadruple-header. In control from the start, they eventually built a 25-point lead in the third quarter, leading assistant Sam Cassell rest most of his starters in the final period, when the Rockets rallied to make the end result appear much closer.
“We hit them first,” said Beal, who didn’t particularly shoot well from the floor (4 of 10) or the free throw line (5 of 10), but still led the Wizards with 14 points and four assists. “The team was a lot better. Coach said we got kind of punked [by the Hawks]. They were more physical than we were, but today we jumped on them early and kind of put them away.”
The Wizards never used it as an excuse, but they arrived an hour later than expected on Friday, landing in Las Vegas around 1 a.m., then had to play the opener 12 hours later. With a night of rest, a shootaround and Emeka Okafor, Jordan Crawford, Trevor Booker and Cartier Martin looking on from the stands, the Wizards appeared more prepared to tangle with the Rockets. Houston featured four first-round picks in Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones, Royce White and Marcus Morris.
“A lot more energy. Energy level was good,” Cassell said. “It was tough the first night, kind of fatigued, got in late. They performed well [against Houston]. I was impressed. I was proud of my guys.”
Mack set the tone early, after he had a rough outing on Friday against Atlanta, appearing somewhat overwhelmed with his duties as a point guard. But he was attacked the basket as he saw fit against the Rockets and scored 11 points. When Mack got going offensively, the floor opened up for his teammates and he was finally able to find Vesely (eight points) for an alley-oop dunk, after a few mishaps the day before.
“This kind of game, I felt I had a mismatch, just tried to take advantage of it,” Mack said. “From the start, me being aggressive got my teammates going. I just have to do it more often.”
Satoransky, the Wizards second-round pick expected to play in Spain next season, generated a buzz throughout the crowd with two impressive dunks. He drove down the lane and took off a few feet inside the foul line, cocked the ball behind his head and dunked with Rockets rookie guard Jeremy Lamb (game-high 26 points) contesting. Satoransky later caught an alley-oop dunk from Steven Gray.
“I wanted to show some of the athleticism they saw I have,” Satoransky said. “I hope I did.”
Beal scored just five points in the first half, but erupted for nine in the third quarter, nailing a three in front of his parents, Bobby and Besta, who were seated coutside, making a baseline dunk and having an offensive rebound putback. He capped his night by throwing a lob to Garett Siler, who had six points.
“I just let the game come to me,” Beal said. “I wasn’t really worried about scoring too much. Everybody can score on the team. I was just trying to get my teammates going. It’s always good to be in position to create for yourself and others as well.”
Chris Singleton picked up a technical foul after an exchange with Morris, but he added 10 points for the Wizards (1-1). Vesely also made two open jumpers, again showing off his improved form. The Wizards will take on a team of NBA Developmental League players on Sunday.