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Wizards take advantage of depleted Rockets for 8th win

Houston Rockets v Washington Wizards
Bradley Beal leads Washington Wizards over the Houston Rockets.
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

After losing several games while playing shorthanded, the Wizards got an opportunity for some karmic payback with a 131-119 win over an injury-decimated Houston Rockets.

Without Christian Wood, Victor Oladipo, and P.J. Tucker, the Rockets’ rotation was an unproven mishmash of undrafted free agents and underperformers. When former-Washington point guard John Wall (22 points and 7 assists in the first half) wore down, the Wizards took advantage and coasted to a comfortable victory.

For the Wizards, Bradley Beal was excellent again — 37 points on 24 shots, plus 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. He also led both teams in retrieving a lost basketball from under arena seats.

Davis Bertans shot 5-6 from three-point range, punishing the Rockets whenever they left him open.

Rui Hachimura was productive with 13 points on 8 shots, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.

Once again, the Wizards got production at center. Moritz Wagner started again and had one of his wild give and take performances — 15 points on 10 shots, 4 steals and a block, but 4 turnovers and 4 fouls in just 24 minutes.

Robin Lopez’s size and strength was too much for a vastly diminished DeMarcus Cousins and his small and slender substitutes. Matters got worse for the Rockets when Ray Spalding strained his Achilles.

Russell Westbrook continued to exhibit baffling shot selection and commit way too many turnovers, and ended the game with a 70 PPA — a score identical to Wall.

In his return to Washington, Wall was scintillating in the first half, but his performance fell apart in the second — just 3-11 shooting with 3 turnovers.

It’s much too soon to think that changes to the starting lineup and a tighter rotation are making a difference for the Wizards. I’ve advocated for a shorter rotation for some time now, but I suspect it’ll expand again when Ish Smith’s quad permits him to play again.

Washington’s season is about to get a lot more difficult. So far, they’ve played the league’s third easiest schedule — their opponents have collectively been 1.15 points per game worse than average. Over the next 9 games, the opposition is a collective 2.57 points per game better than average. Said another way, so far they’ve faced opposition about the quality of a 38-win team over an 82-game schedule. Over the next 9, their opponents are the quality of a 48-win team.

The next time they’re favored in a game is February 27 at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. They’ll likely manage two or three wins out of nine coming up, but the next couple weeks aren’t likely to be pleasant for the team and its fans.

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.

Also, someone asked why pace was always the same. The answer: I typically average possessions because they’re approximately equal between teams in each game. The actual count can fluctuate by a possession or two based on end of quarter stuff. So, today I’ve tweaked the table to report each team’s possessions without averaging.

Four Factors: Rockets at Wizards

EFG 0.516 0.587
OREB 9 10
TOV 18 15
FTM 25 23
PACE 111 109
ORTG 105 120

Player Production Average

Below are Player Production Average (PPA) results from last night’s game. PPA is my overall production metric, which credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, play-making, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls). PPA is a per possession stat that includes accounting for defense and role. In PPA, 100 is average and higher is better.

PPA is a per possession stat. The table below is sorted by each player’s total contributions for the game.

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

Wizards PPA

Bradley Beal 36 83 276 15
Davis Bertans 31 72 297 -1
Rui Hachimura 37 85 146 9
Moritz Wagner 24 56 130 6
Robin Lopez 20 47 145 8
Russell Westbrook 33 77 70 1
Raul Neto 27 62 71 10
Garrison Mathews 12 29 43 6
Deni Avdija 20 45 -14 5

Rockets PPA

Jae'Sean Tate 40 92 190 -1
David Nwaba 41 95 165 -19
Danuel House 36 83 75 -5
John Wall 35 81 70 -11
DeMarcus Cousins 20 47 37 -7
Sterling Brown 25 58 9 -1
Mason Jones 13 30 -44 -1
Ben McLemore 20 46 -39 -7
Ray Spalding 10 23 -67 -8