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Stifling second half defense leads Wizards to 7th consecutive win

Washington Wizards v Oklahoma City Thunder
Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook registered yet another triple-double in team’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Accolades for the Wizards seventh consecutive win are being doled out to Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. Deservedly in Westbrook’s case — he was terrific. Less so for Beal, although the guard did finish with 33 points.

What won the game for the Wizards was a stifling second half defense against the league’s least efficient offense.

In the first half, the Wizards were lackadaisical on defense and the 30th ranked Oklahoma City offense got an array of open looks and free runs at the basket, which they converted. At the break, the Thunder had a .577 effective field goal percentage and a 133 offensive rating (points per possession x 100).

League average is 112.1 points per 100 possessions.

Yeah. Not good.

In the second half, Washington’s defenders tightened up, executed the scheme, and held OKC to a .375 efg and an offensive rating of 76. For the game, the Thunder ended up right at their season average of 104.

With injuries to Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura, the Wizards were forced into some lineup and rotation changes. They started the game with Isaac Bonga, who was terrible. In the second half, Anthony Gill replaced him with the starting unit and had an excellent game — 9 points on 5 field goal attempts and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes. This was easily the best game of Gill’s NBA career.

Westbrook put up another triple-double (37 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) with power and efficiency. He shot 14-23 from the floor, including 3-4 from the three-point line and committed just 3 turnovers.

Raul Neto was outstanding again — 15 points on 10 shots, 3-5 from three-point range, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals. Neto gives up some stuff to bigger opponents, but he’s a crafty defender who’s skilled at blowing past screens and staying with his man.

Beal had a solid game — 33 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists. He shot decently — 12-24 from the floor and 4-6 from deep. He also had a steal and a couple blocks. What suppressed his overall rating? Seven turnovers.

Davis Bertans had one of those Bertans games: 4-7 from the three-point line and not a lot else. He had just 2 rebounds in 22 minutes.

Daniel Gafford wasn’t as eye-popping last night, but did collected 4 offensive rebounds in 15 minutes, as well as an assist, steal, block, turnover and foul. Solid game from the big.

Next up for the Wizards: the Cleveland Cavaliers at home on Sunday night. My prediction machine has Washington with a 67% chance of winning.

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.

PACE is possessions per 48 minutes.

Four Factors: Wizards at Thunder

EFG 0.473 0.613
OREB 14 12
TOV 16 20
FTM 21 15
PACE 105
ORTG 104 122

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.

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

Russell Westbrook 37 81 292 16
Raul Neto 34 74 193 14
Anthony Gill 20 45 273 20
Bradley Beal 36 80 139 12
Davis Bertans 22 49 141 6
Daniel Gafford 15 33 129 -1
Chandler Hutchison 9 21 162 -1
Cassius Winston 2 5 534 5
Alex Len 14 30 7 9
Jordan Bell 1 2 0 2
Robin Lopez 18 40 -3 10
Garrison Mathews 3 6 -68 1
Isaac Bonga 10 23 -36 9
Ish Smith 17 38 -157 -2

Thunder PPA

Darius Bazley 32 71 221 -17
Theo Maledon 31 68 185 -18
Isaiah Roby 29 64 134 -2
Luguentz Dort 35 76 61 -18
Ty Jerome 19 42 63 -6
Kenrich Williams 25 55 32 2
Moses Brown 7 15 35 -8
Tony Bradley 11 25 7 -6
Justin Robinson 1 2 0 -2
Jaylen Hoard 1 3 -249 -5
Svi Mykhailiuk 23 50 -44 -1
Aleksej Pokusevski 25 56 -53 -19