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Another #SoWizards Loss

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Washington Wizards
LA Clippers guard Luke Kennard and Wizards guard Bradley Beal joined the #SoWizards pantheon with Morris Peterson and Michael Ruffin.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not so bad. A one-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers led by elite players like {checks notes} Luke Kennard, Amir Coffey and Terance Mann is okay. I mean, that trio of all-time greats got quality help from borderline All-Timers {checks notes again} Isaiah Hartenstein and Jay Scrubb.

Sure, the Wizards had the rotation they wanted out there, and forced the Clippers to stage a frantic comeback to make it a game. LA trailed the entire way until the final seconds when they had to get an improbable four-point play from Kennard, the future Hall of Famer to squeak out the win.

This is the sort of performance the Wizards can build upon...okay, I can’t keep going.

This was bad. Awful. Horrific.

The Wizards frittered away a 35-point first half lead, and somehow lost to an assemblage of role players and scrubs. Literally, one of the guys giving them fits is named Scrubb.

They lost because they got lackadaisical in the second half. They laughed and chortled and had a rollicking time in the third quarter, seeming to believe their lead was insurmountable and that the Clippers would give up. Instead, the Clippers competed.

As in, Tyronn Lue benched his starters and went with youngsters who played hard and fast. As in, the Clippers won despite 6 players with negative production, according to my PPA metric (see below). Their main guys played badly, and they won anyway.

The Wizards lost composure as the gap narrowed. They committed 12 second-half turnovers, and that’s even worse than it sounds because those miscues came from guys alleged to be their best players — Bradley Beal had 4 turnovers in the second half (5 for the game), Spencer Dinwiddie had 3, and Kyle Kuzma had 2. (Daniel Gafford had a pair, and Deni Avdija had 1.)

Somehow, 48 games into the season, the Wizards continue to have trouble inbounding the ball. In this case, they took a five-second violation when they had the ball up three with 8.2 seconds left on the clock.

Beal made the last mistake, fouling Kennard as he rose for the game-tying three. It looked like he was trying to foul intentionally to prevent the three-point attempt, but he was late arriving on the switch with Dinwiddie. It also looked like he tried to foul Justise Winslow on the handoff to Kennard, but didn’t make contact until the ball was already out of Winslow’s hands.

Beal and Dinwiddie argued with the refs after that final play, but realistically speaking, the officials were not a deciding factor. The Wizards coughed up a 35-point lead because they thought the game was won at halftime, and that they could coast home with the win.

Instead, they suffered their worst loss of the season, and one of the most humiliating #SoWizards losses in franchise history. This, after getting STOMPED by Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics the previous game.

Now the schedule gets difficult for a couple weeks. If the team is serious about reaching even the play-in games, they’ll need head coach Wes Unseld Jr. and veteran leadership to pull this group together and commit to playing hard and together. The season could go into a death spiral otherwise.

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: Clippers 116 at Wizards 115

EFG 0.473 0.519
OREB 12 10
TOV 11 18
FTM 27 32
PACE 104
ORTG 111 110

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 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 40 86 23 111 23.6% 111 23.4 1
Montrezl Harrell 20 44 12 146 21.0% 190 20.6 -8
Kyle Kuzma 35 75 19 98 25.3% 98 18.2 3
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 29 64 12 146 12.3% 104 16.3 10
Thomas Bryant 15 33 11 169 18.5% 184 15.1 0
Daniel Gafford 12 27 12 119 35.4% 117 7.6 6
Deni Avdija 21 47 11 114 18.6% 65 7.5 -4
Rui Hachimura 13 29 7 93 23.7% 55 3.9 -4
Corey Kispert 20 44 3 110 8.4% 23 2.5 -4
Spencer Dinwiddie 34 73 5 58 15.8% -59 0.0 -5

Key Stats: Clippers

Luke Kennard 30 65 25 184 19.8% 407 41.4 26
Amir Coffey 37 80 29 128 24.7% 237 29.7 15
Terance Mann 32 71 16 136 15.5% 169 18.6 -1
Isaiah Hartenstein 26 56 16 117 26.0% 101 8.9 23
Eric Bledsoe 15 32 7 162 15.4% 174 8.9 5
Jay Scrubb 17 36 8 121 15.2% 149 8.5 16
Nicolas Batum 8 18 0 0 4.0% -48 0.0 -22
Ivica Zubac 12 27 2 70 23.8% -48 0.0 -19
Justise Winslow 23 50 4 84 15.4% -35 0.0 9
Serge Ibaka 4 9 0 0 19.0% -226 0.0 -12
Brandon Boston Jr. 20 43 5 63 18.4% -47 0.0 -6
Reggie Jackson 16 34 4 53 25.7% -135 0.0 -29