For a second straight night, the offense was terrific and the defense meh for both the Wizards and their opponent. Last night, however, Washington’s offense was better, and they hammered the Minnesota Timberwolves, 142-127.
Shooting and efficiency scores resembled the kinds of numbers put up in All-Star games. The Wizards had their best shooting night of the season — a 65.4% effective field goal percentage. Their 138 offensive rating (points per possession x 100) was their highest this year.
Minnesota’s 18 turnovers were the highest total of the season for a Wizards opponent. In fairness, many were the result of sloppiness from the Timberwolves than good defense from Washington.
The Wizards’ field goal defense wasn’t bad — Minnesota’s efg was 54.2% (a little above league average). But making the other team miss is only part of the battle. Washington allowed 15 offensive rebounds (tied for third most by an opponent this season), and they sent the Timberwolves to the free throw line a staggering 42 times. Washington’s previous high was 33 opponent free throw attempts.
- Kristaps Porzingis his first four threes en route to a career high 41 points. He’s said that he likes playing against teams that use drop coverage because of the extra space he gets outside, and he showed it.
- Kyle Kuzma attacked the paint early, set up teammates (9 assists), hit threes (4-7) and avoided the turnovers that have undermined his efficiency throughout the season.
- Will Barton made some shots and contributed a pair of assists and three steals. This was probably his best game of the season thus far.
- Corey Kispert was one missed free throw from a perfect shooting night — 4-4 from the floor, 2-2 from three, 1-2 from the FT line.
The Not So Good
- Minnesota star Karl-Anthony Towns had to leave the game with what’s being called a calf strain. While the Wizards broadcasters expressed relief, it’s worth a reminder that calf strains range from mild overstretching to a muscle tear. Also, a “calf strain” can sometimes end up as an Achilles injury. If there’s a bright side, Towns seemed to grab a spot high on his calf — just below his knee. If that’s where the injury is location, it’s unlikely to involve the Achilles.
- Speaking of the Wizards broadcast, I’m probably done watching it this season. For me at least, it’s a slog of cornball cheerleading, erroneous descriptions (Chris Miller misidentifying parts of the floor and calling reverse layups up-and-unders (for example)), and pointless “analysis” from “analyst” Drew Gooden. League Pass and opponent broadcasts are my friend.
- Deni Avdija had some good moments, but his overall game was rough, and he got benched in the second half. My guess is he’ll be back in the starting lineup on Wednesday, but this would be the second time this season head coach Wes Unseld Jr. has been frustrated enough with his performance to sideline him.
The Kinda Good
- Monte Morris was efficient (again), and the team defense was actually good when he was out there — 92.2 defensive rating. This was likely helped by Minnesota starting Austin Rivers, who for some reason is still employed as an NBA player.
- It’s good that the Wizards earned some garbage time for the end-of-bench youngsters. Unfortunately, they were all bad.
The Four Factors
Below are the four factors that decide wins and losses 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, I find the raw numbers more useful when analyzing a single game.
Four Factors: Timberwolves at Wizards
The Stats & Metrics
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. 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 112.0. 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.
Stats & Metrics: Wizards
|Vernon Carey Jr.||3||6||0||0||42.1%||-566||0.0||-11|
Stats & Metrics: Timberwolves
|Wendell Moore Jr.||5||10||2||91||23.6%||-67||0.0||10|