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Westbrook, Gafford lead Wizards in narrow loss to the Mavericks

NBA: Washington Wizards at Dallas Mavericks
The clash between Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was an epic display of great basketball.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Truth be told, the Wizards didn’t have much business even being in the game they ultimately lost to the Dallas Mavericks by one point.

They defended poorly throughout — the Mavericks had a 63.8% effective field goal percentage and just 11 turnovers — and for the most part played with the kind of road-weary energy that comes on the second night of a road-road back-to-back.

They were close enough to lose a heartbreaker because Russell Westbrook had another elite game — 42 points, 10 rebound, 9 assists, including 17-30 shooting from the floor, 3-6 from three-point range and just 2 turnovers — and they did a good job on the offensive glass, led by Daniel Gafford’s 5 offensive rebounds.

The rest of the team varied from decent (Bradley Beal and Raul Neto) to meh (Rui Hachimura, Robin Lopez and Chandler Hutchison) to putrid (Davis Bertans, Ish Smith and Alex Len).

Hachimura’s scoring was fine — 18 points on 7-11 shooting — but his non-scoring contributions were minimal. In 29 minutes, he managed just 2 rebounds, zero assists, steals or blocks, and he committed a turnover.

Compare with Raul Neto, who in 1 minute more of playing time, had 9 rebounds and 4 assists.

For Dallas, Luka Doncic is awesome...and just 22 years old. While looking tired and gimpy at times, he torched the Wizards for 31 points, 12 rebounds and 20 assists — against just 1 turnover.

The Mavericks have surrounded Doncic with good shooters in Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber and Tim Hardaway Jr., as well as some athletic bigs who can make plays. It’s an interesting team if they can Kristaps Porzingis to stay healthy long enough.

For the Wizards, the schedule gets a bit more challenging than it’s been the past few weeks. They come home to play the Indiana Pacers Monday night and then have five on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, the Pacers again, and then two against the Atlanta Hawks.

My prognostication machine has the Wizards as coinflip favorites Monday night, and then solid underdogs in each of the next five. They finish up the season with home games against the Cleveland Cavaliers (which Washington should win) and the Charlotte Hornets (coinflip odds).

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.

Wizards at Mavericks

EFG 0.638 0.549
OREB 7 14
TOV 11 10
FTM 14 24
ORTG 126 125

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 40 83 266 -3
Daniel Gafford 25 52 150 -7
Bradley Beal 37 76 103 0
Raul Neto 29 61 116 12
Rui Hachimura 29 59 62 -3
Robin Lopez 18 37 62 17
Chandler Hutchison 8 16 61 -11
Davis Bertans 26 53 1 4
Ish Smith 24 49 -24 -3
Alex Len 5 10 -140 -11

Mavericks PPA

Luka Doncic 39 81 251 6
Dorian Finney-Smith 40 84 168 4
Maxi Kleber 27 56 161 -6
Tim Hardaway Jr. 27 55 128 7
Willie Cauley-Stein 27 55 109 -3
Trey Burke 12 24 170 9
Dwight Powell 19 39 85 1
Nicolo Melli 10 22 0 2
Josh Richardson 23 48 -60 -6
Jalen Brunson 15 32 -178 -9