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Second half rally isn’t enough as Grizzlies hand Wizards their 5th loss in six games


Washington Wizards v Memphis Grizzlies
Wizards guard Jordan Goodwin
Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

In a somewhat entertaining game, the Wizards bricked more threes than the Memphis Grizzlies and lost for their fifth time in six games.

Washington’s defensive game plan gave up a bunch of open threes, but a) the Grizzlies had a crappy shooting night (just 9-29), and b) it helped limit Memphis PG Ja Morant. The Wizards used 6-9 Deni Avdija on Morant much of the game, and while Avdija had his struggles, he did a creditable job against the freakishly quick Morant.

Jordan Goodwin, getting 26 minutes with Bradley Beal and Delon Wright out, also did a solid job on Morant.

The bigs challenged Morant at the rim — Daniel Gafford more effectively than Kristaps Porzingis, though Porzingis did have three blocks.

Morant finished with gaudy glory stats — 23 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists. But he was just 9-27 from the floor, and he committed 4 turnovers.

Unfortunately, the Wizards didn’t have the same kind of results with Desmond Bane — 28 points, 4 threes, 4 assists and a 154 offensive rating (points produced per possession x 100 — league average is 112).

Brandon Clarke, Rui Hachimura’s college teammate, scored 16 points on 8 field goal attempts and grabbed 5 rebounds in 21 minutes.

Steven Adams did Steven Adams things — 4 points, 10 rebounds (5 on the offensive glass) — and stellar defense. When he was in the game, the Wizards’ offensive rating was just 81.

For the Wizards, Goodwin was excellent — 9 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block in 26 minutes. Plus the defense on Morant.

Monte Morris was decent. He made shots (7-12 from the floor, 2-5 from three) and was efficient on offense. He tallied just one assist but he actually had a solid night playmaking. The team did something I’ve been talking about all season — they put him in pick-and-roll sets where he has a history of being a good decision maker. These sets got him into the lane multiple times, and he delivered several perfect kickout passes to wide open shooters...who tossed up bricks.

Gafford had a productive night with 9 points and 5 rebounds in 14 minutes. He also provided a strong rim defender when he was out there.

For all the online kvetching about Will Barton, he was decent — 12 points on strong offensive efficiency, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. The team lost by 6 but were breakeven during Barton’s minutes.

Once again, there was much online (and text message) excitement about Hachimura’s performance. While he had a nice stretch in the second half, overall there was less to his play than met the eye. He finished with 15 points on decent efficiency (110 ortg) but had just three rebounds and zero assists, steals or blocks in 22 minutes. The team defense was at its worst with him in the game.

What else?

  • Kyle Kuzma was terrible — 12 points and 2 assists that took him 14 field goal attempts and 3 turnovers.
  • Porzingis was bad —10 points and 3 assists that took him 13 field goal attempts and 4 turnovers. He also had a steal, 3 blocks and 5 fouls.
  • Avdija was aggressive on offense and it went poorly. He managed 4 points on 2-12 shooting (0-5 from three), 2 turnovers and just 2 assists. Rough night.
  • The team’s biggest problem: missing open shots. For the night, they were 8-41 from three-point range — 19.5%. As the Memphis rims might have said last night, “Ouch.”

Zooming Out

The Wizards are 4-6, which is a game worse than I’d forecasted back when the schedule came out. The Grizzlies, even with Jaren Jackson Jr. out of the lineup are the better team. With Morant and Bane, they have better high end production than the Wizards, and they have a deep well of high-performing role players.

Amusingly, the Memphis roster is stocked with players that rated well in my stat-based pre-draft analysis, including Brandon Clarke, David Roddy and Jake LaRavia.

Two bigger picture bright spots from last night’s loss:

  1. The Wizards trailed by as much as 23 in the third quarter but battled back to avoid another blowout loss. In a stretch starting in the third quarter and lasting into the fourth, they went on a 19-0 binge to briefly take the lead.
  2. Beal’s absence forced the team to try other things. One of them was giving minutes to Goodwin, who played well. Another was running pick-and-roll with Morris. Goodwin should continue to get backup PG minutes, at least until Delon Wright returns. What I saw tonight suggested Morris-led PNRs could be efficient and effective...if his teammates can make open shots.

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, that’s more useful over a full season. In a single game, the raw numbers in each category bring more clarity.

Key Stats: Wizards 97 at Grizzlies 103

EFG 0.469 0.478
OREB 15 12
TOV 10 10
FTM 7 16
ORTG 102 108

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. 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.

Key Stats: Wizards

Jordan Goodwin 26 52 9 163 14.3% 356 35.3 12
Monte Morris 33 66 18 144 15.2% 156 19.7 -9
Daniel Gafford 14 27 9 158 21.8% 229 11.9 3
Will Barton 24 47 12 115 22.4% 114 10.3 3
Rui Hachimura 22 44 15 110 23.8% 84 7.1 0
Corey Kispert 24 47 6 110 11.9% 73 6.6 -15
Taj Gibson 4 7 2 135 28.0% 254 3.4 -11
Anthony Gill 3 5 0 242 4.8% 284 2.8 6
Kyle Kuzma 34 68 12 78 21.0% 20 2.6 -5
Kristaps Porzingis 31 61 10 65 26.7% -61 0.0 2
Deni Avdija 26 52 4 53 23.9% -75 0.0 -16

Key Stats: Grizzlies

Desmond Bane 35 70 28 154 23.8% 267 36.0 -1
Brandon Clarke 21 42 16 164 19.2% 222 18.1 5
Steven Adams 22 44 4 169 9.1% 181 15.3 9
Tyus Jones 19 38 7 122 16.8% 131 9.6 12
Jake LaRavia 16 32 6 210 7.8% 147 9.1 6
Santi Aldama 27 53 4 56 14.4% 31 3.2 6
John Konchar 15 30 2 113 10.0% 54 3.1 -1
Dillon Brooks 30 60 9 73 18.9% 18 2.1 3
David Roddy 16 31 3 103 7.3% 32 1.9 -4
Ja Morant 33 66 23 82 43.9% 14 1.8 3
Xavier Tillman 4 9 1 55 47.5% -270 0.0 -8