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Recap: Wizards rally from massive deficit falls short and they lose to the Denver Nuggets 113-107

Washington Wizards v Denver Nuggets
Wizards guard Aaron Holiday
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

As has become their habit in recent games, the Washington Wizards allowed the opponent to blast out to a huge lead, and then mounted a comeback that made the final score superficially close. Tonight, it was the Denver Nuggets’ turn. The Wizards trailed by as much as 33 in the third quarter before the Nuggets slacked off and Washington could cut into the deficit. The final score was 113-107, which doesn’t do justice to how much Denver and their All-World center Nikola Jokic controlled the game.

Jokic did all kinds of Jokic things, including out-rebounding the Wizards in the first quarter, scoring 28 points on 14 field goal attempts, grabbing 19 rebounds in just 31 minutes, dishing 9 assists, and contributing 3 steals and a block. He’s long caught criticism for his defense, but he was at least solid — the Wizards managed an offensive rating (points per possession x 100) of just 88 when Jokic was on the floor.

One reason the Wizards were able to make the game as close as it was at the end was Jokic getting ejected with a little more than six minutes left to play.

Starting in place of the injured Jamal Murray, Monte Morris was terrific — 22 points on 14 field goal attempts, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and zero turnovers. Former Wizard Jeff Green was decent as well.

The Wizards were on the brink of annihilation because their starting lineup got trashed by Denver’s. Bradley Beal wasn’t awful. His 19 points on 19 field goal attempts was crummy, but he contributed 10 assists to just 2 turnovers. Still, his overall performance was subpar. Again.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was rough — just 5-16 from the floor with few other contributions. Daniel Gafford had a fairly rare bad outing, which makes sense considering he was contending with the NBA’s best center. Deni Avdija and Spencer Dinwiddie were both terrible.

Dinwiddie was passive again, and he shot just 3-8 from the floor and had 3 assists to 4 turnovers. His usage rate was 27.2%, which was inflated by those 4 turnovers.

Avdija shot badly (0-4 from three-point range) and had a couple turnovers. He contributed 3 steals and a block, but the Nuggets had an ortg of 135 in his minutes on the floor, and the Wizards were -28 in his 17 minutes of playing time.

The Wizards made their comeback because Aaron Holiday played out of his mind — 6-8 from the floor en route to 18 points in 15 minutes — and because Davis Bertans nailed threes. Bertans scored 21 points on 13 field goal attempts, including 5-9 shooting from three-point range.

Four Factors

Below are the four factors that decide who wins and loses in basketball — shooting (efg), rebounding (offensive rebounds), ball handling (turnovers), fouling (free throws made).

I’ve simplified them a bit. While the factors are usually presented as percentages, that’s more useful over a full season. In a single game, the raw numbers in each category are easier to understand.

Four Factors: Wizards 107 at Nuggets 113

FOUR FACTORS NUGGETS WIZARDS
FOUR FACTORS NUGGETS WIZARDS
EFG 0.532 0.522
OREB 4 6
TOV 13 10
FTM 29 13
PACE 101
ORTG 112 106

Key Stats

Below are a few performance metrics, including the Player Production Average (PPA) Game Score (very similar to the one I used to call Scoreboard Impact Rating). PPA is my overall production metric, which credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, playmaking, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls).

Game Score (GmSC) converts individual production into points on the scoreboard in this game. The scale is the same as points and reflects each player’s total contributions for the game. The lowest possible GmSC is zero.

PPA is a per possession metric designed for larger data sets. In small sample sizes, the numbers can get weird. But some readers prefer it so I’m including PPA scores as well. Reminder: in PPA, 100 is average, higher is better and replacement level is 45. For a single game, replacement level isn’t much use, and I reiterate the caution about small samples producing weird results.

POSS is the number of possessions each player was on the floor in this game.

PTS = points scored

ORTG = offensive rating, which is points produced per individual possessions x 100. League average last season was 112.3. Points produced is not the same as points scored. It includes the value of assists and offensive rebounds, as well as sharing credit when receiving an assist.

USG = offensive usage rate. Average is 20%.

ORTG and USG are slightly modified versions of stats created by Wizards assistant coach Dean Oliver and modified slightly by me. ORTG is an efficiency measure that accounts for the value of shooting, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. USG includes shooting from the floor and free throw line, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers.

Key Stats: Wizards

WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
WIZARDS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Aaron Holiday 15 31 18 171 29.9% 516 31.9 10
Davis Bertans 31 66 21 160 15.5% 239 31.1 22
Bradley Beal 39 82 19 103 26.3% 74 11.9 -13
Corey Kispert 20 41 4 130 10.0% 145 11.7 7
Montrezl Harrell 27 57 8 116 13.2% 91 10.2 -1
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 30 64 13 90 21.1% 42 5.2 -12
Raul Neto 16 34 5 112 15.8% 62 4.2 0
Daniel Gafford 21 44 6 94 14.3% 9 0.8 -5
Deni Avdija 17 35 4 47 22.7% -6 0.0 -28
Spencer Dinwiddie 24 51 9 74 27.2% -88 0.0 -10

Key Stats: Nuggets

NUGGETS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
NUGGETS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Nikola Jokic 31 65 28 132 36.0% 429 46.9 16
Monte Morris 32 67 22 147 21.1% 287 32.5 14
Jeff Green 28 58 13 127 14.9% 115 11.4 15
Aaron Gordon 39 83 16 99 19.6% 50 7.0 7
Zeke Nnaji 19 40 4 128 9.4% 79 5.4 -3
Davon Reed 24 50 2 63 8.7% 46 3.9 6
Vlatko Cancar 9 18 5 121 20.1% 121 3.7 -1
Markus Howard 12 26 9 139 19.0% 49 2.2 -8
Facundo Campazzo 27 58 8 84 21.4% -5 0.0 -15
Bones Hyland 20 41 6 69 18.1% -45 0.0 -6