The Washington Wizards lost to the Brooklyn Nets 117-80 on the road Friday. It was a sign that Brooklyn was playing with purpose since they were fighting for a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. It was also a sign of complacency for Washington, even though John Wall sat out for the second consecutive game to rest for the playoffs.
This game seemed to be a loss from the start when Washington allowed Brooklyn to race to a 47-20 lead with 5:33 left in the second quarter. Though the Wizards were able to make some runs to get the deficit down to 10 at a couple times after halftime, they allowed the Nets to go on a 23-1 run from 1:41 left in the third quarter until 7:29 left in the fourth. That run emphatically closed the door on this game, which seemed to be that way from the start.
For the Nets, Brook Lopez had a great performance throughout the game where he scored 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Bogan Bogdanovic and Jarrett Jack added 22 and 14 more respectively. We'll talk more about the Bogdanovic and Jack later. For the Wizards, Bradley Beal scored 24 points while Marcin Gortat added 21 more along with 16 rebounds, but no one else scored in double figures.
Let's get to five takeaways from this loss:
1. The Wizards must cut down on turnovers, especially when they aren't great at forcing other teams to turn the ball over themselves
If there's one stat that sticks out, it's turnovers. The Wizards turned the ball over 17 times for a turnover percentage (TOV%) of 15.9 percent. That doesn't include four shot clock violations that would give Washington 21 turnovers, but the latter figure isn't included in TOV%. The Nets took advantage by scoring 38 points off of those turnovers.
Meanwhile, the Nets committed just six turnovers and had no shot clock violations, giving them a TOV% of 5.7 percent. The Wizards did score 11 points off of those turnovers, but this one factor explains much, if not most of the large deficit in tonight's game.
In each of the GameThreads over the past several months, I've included Four Factors numbers of each team heading into this game, so let's glance at that table once again. From the GameThread:
|OFFENSE FOUR FACTORS||DEFENSE FOUR FACTORS|
|Wizards||50.2% (11)||14.0% (23)||24.6% (16)||19.4% (22)||48.0% (5)||13.1% (18)||77.3% (4)||21.3% (21)|
|Nets||49.2% (17)||13.0% (14)||23.8% (23)||20.0% (17)||50.6% (23)||12.8% (20)||73.7% (20)||18.9% (8)|
Stats from Basketball Reference for games played through April 9, 2015. Numbers in parentheses are the team's rank in that category among all NBA teams.
The Wizards are a team that is turnover-prone and they aren't particularly good at creating turnovers themselves on defense. That's in stark contrast compared to last year when they were second in defensive TOV%. Meanwhile, the Nets were a team that is about average in TOV% and actually not great at creating turnovers themselves on defense.
Many of the Wizards' turnovers tonight were unforced, which made this game frustrating to watch while the Nets were very good at taking care of the ball. This combination of things ultimately culminates in a game like this.
2. That 23-1 run showed the Wizards at their worst
Jack is known as a Wizards killer, and he scored seven of his 14 points during that aforementioned 23-1 run the Nets went on. But Bogdanovic led all scorers during that time where he scored nine points, all on three-pointers.
That doesn't mean that the aforementioned turnover issue showed its ugly head during that stretch. It showed up big time The Wizards committed four turnovers during that six-plus minute stretch, which turned into six Brooklyn points. That is a TOV% of 33.7 percent while the Nets' was zero -- because they didn't turn it over at all as mentioned before.
If you're wondering who scored the Wizards' only point in that stretch, it was Drew Gooden, who made one of two free throws early in the fourth quarter. He has played some extensive minutes during Washington's four-game winning streak heading into tonight and has been a good scorer. But tonight, he missed all eight of his shot attempts.
3. Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat continue to play well as we head toward the playoffs
Yes! We do have some positive takeaways from this game. Again, Beal led Washington with 24 points, and Gortat added 21 more -- not to mention the fact that he also grabbed 16 rebounds.
It's also the sign of a positive trend for the two starters. Beal is averaging 20.6 points per game on 51.8% shooting overall while shooting 42.1% from three in the Wizards' last five games. He's also dishing 3.2 assists per game in the same time frame. Gortat on the other hand:
Marcin Gortat is shooting 76.3 percent from the field so far this month.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) April 11, 2015
To add just a little more to this already stat-heavy recap -- and why it is taking so long for me to finish -- the Polish Hammer is averaging 17.4 points and grabbing 10.2 rebounds a game over the last five games, which were all in April.
4. It's premature to say how well Ramon Sessions and Will Bynum will work together
On Wednesday in the Wizards' shellacking of the Philadelphia 76ers, both Sessions and Bynum combined for 29 points and 14 assists. Tonight, Sessions had ten assists and only one turnover but shot just 1 of 7 from the field. Bynum only scored one point and missed all of his shots. This game wasn't their best, and I get that. But I'm also not expecting them both to have games like they did against Philly though I won't mind if I'm wrong.
5. John Wall rested, and the Wizards aren't losing playoff position!
This is the ultimate silver lining. Wall rested for the second consecutive game. And even though I won't mind seeing Washington get homecourt advantage, I'd rather see a healthy Wall in the postseason than an exhausted one. Besides, it's not like the Wizards are going to lose playoff positioning.
Don't get me wrong, I want to see this team win more than 45 games. But we still have bigger fish to fry than just one game. The Wizards face the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday in their home finale. Let's hope we can catch them off guard then.