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Wizards defense collapses against the Pacers

Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal played one of his better games of the season in the team’s 116-110 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

In a game where the Wizards had an effective field goal percentage of 57.4%, shot 7-15 from three-point range, and posted an offensive rating of 120 — their fourth best performance of the season — nearly every post-game comment I saw or heard was some kind of complaint about the team’s offense.

It may not have been pretty, it may not look like the ideal “good offense,” but the Wizards made their shots, protected the ball and were plenty good enough on the offensive end to beat the Indiana Pacers.

They lost, 116-110, because their defense was terrible. The 126 defensive rating was their fourth worst of the season. It was almost a match set with the 127 ortg the Indiana Pacers put on them when the two teams played back in October.

The game wasn’t as close as the final score — Aaron Holiday came up with a couple garbage time steals and breakaway layups that cut the margin to six after Wes Unseld Jr. had pulled the starters and conceded the loss.

The game’s outcome was never in serious doubt after the Pacers got out to a 16-point lead in the second quarter. The Wizards stayed close enough in the second half to keep things interesting — cutting the lead to eight in the early fourth quarter, but each time it looked like they might make a game of it, Indiana pulled away.

They were thoroughly dominated inside by Domantas Sabonis — 30 points on 15 shots, 10 rebounds (4 on the offensive glass), 6 assists, 3 steals and a block. Yeesh.

Chris Duarte came up with four steals in 25 minutes. Oshae Brissett went 3-3 from three-point range and seemingly touched every rebound and loose ball when he was in the game. Malcolm Brogdon was solid and steady — 17 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists.

For the Wizards, Bradley Beal bounced back from several subpar performances to score 34 points on just 19 field goal attempts. He got to the free throw line with regularity, hitting 9-10.

Montrezl Harrell and Daniel Gafford were productive in the middle, though they were overwhelmed by Sabonis.

Given more minutes because Davis Bertans was sidelined with gastroenteritis, Corey Kispert hit a couple threes. He got targeted on the defensive end, but the results were generally no worse than they were for the rest of his teammates.

Holiday’s PPA score looks good, though it was padded with a couple garbage time steals and baskets that were effectively meaningless.

Next up for the Wizards: What should be a get-well game against the Detroit Pistons. It’ll be an excellent chance to snap their three-game losing skid before the schedule difficulty ramps up again.

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 110 at Pacers 116

EFG 0.579 0.574
OREB 13 9
TOV 15 12
FTM 21 17
ORTG 126 120

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

Bradley Beal 39 75 34 150 27.9% 216 33.2 -9
Montrezl Harrell 26 50 11 119 18.8% 156 15.9 -5
Kyle Kuzma 39 74 14 113 14.1% 93 14.2 1
Daniel Gafford 20 39 14 174 18.5% 165 13.2 -9
Aaron Holiday 21 41 11 119 24.2% 150 12.6 -5
Corey Kispert 19 37 10 143 15.6% 163 12.4 4
Deni Avdija 16 31 2 109 13.7% 75 4.8 1
Raul Neto 23 43 6 92 22.2% 42 3.8 -3
Anthony Gill 2 3 0 0.0% 0 0.0 8
Davis Bertans 3 6 0 0 11.6% -155 0.0 -7
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 31 59 8 74 21.2% -23 0.0 -6

Key Stats: Pacers

Domantas Sabonis 36 69 30 161 27.7% 377 40.7 14
Chris Duarte 25 48 13 162 17.1% 341 25.7 7
Oshae Brissett 29 55 12 166 12.2% 226 19.5 7
Malcolm Brogdon 36 69 17 131 22.6% 126 13.5 1
Caris LeVert 33 64 19 110 22.0% 96 9.6 -1
Kelan Martin 19 37 6 98 15.8% 56 3.2 -1
Jeremy Lamb 19 36 10 95 26.9% 43 2.4 7
Myles Turner 30 57 5 76 10.6% 14 1.3 -3
Brad Wanamaker 13 25 4 116 19.1% -3 0.0 -1