The Washington Wizards lost to the Phoenix Suns 95-80 in DC, but the final score does not come close to telling the story of the game. The Suns blew the Wizards doors off, and it was only a superficial garbage-time “comeback” that narrowed the margin to 15.
To provide a sense of what the fourth quarter felt like, here are actual thoughts I had during the final period:
- The Wizards actually deserve this broadcast crew.
- The Clippers could come back from this.
- In the G-Wiz Grand Prix, how does G-Wiz drive all three carts at the same time?
I mean, I spent at least five minutes searching for wrecking ball gifs. In texting with a friend who placed an actual bet on the Wizards to cover the +8.5 point spread, I urged him to leave his brain to Bennet Omalu.
These are the things we do to get through yet another stultifying #SoWizards loss.
The issue isn’t losing, of course. The Suns are the league’s best team, and the Wizards stink. It’s entering garbage time in the second quarter. It’s falling behind by as much as 36 in the third quarter. It’s scoring 32 points in the first half and just 51 points through three quarters.
It’s enduring a fourth quarter of Drew Gooden and Chris Miller stupidly asserting that Tyler Herro deserves a spot on the All-Star roster over Jimmy Butler. Or listening to Gooden incorrectly claim that lacrosse isn’t popular in California. Or hearing Justin Kutcher arguing for Nikola Vucevic as an All-Star replacement ahead of Jarrett Allen.
One other fourth quarter thought: Could I drink another glass of wine and still be sober enough to write? (Spoiler: I didn’t risk it.)
- First quarter: the Wizards trailed by 12
- At the half: the Wizards trailed by 27
- After three: the Wizards trailed by 34
- Final: the Wizards trailed by 15.
Washington’s 80 points was their lowest total since January 22, 2018, and their 11-point second quarter was a new season low. Their 86 offensive rating was their worst of the season.
Do not in any way imagine the Wizards played remotely well on defense, even with the Suns posting an offensive rating of just 102. Through three quarters, Phoenix’s ortg was 120, and Washington’s was 72. What narrowed the gap was the Suns’ scrubs playing like trash against the Wizards’ scrubs plus Montrezl Harrell, for some reason.
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: Suns 95 at Wizards 80
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
Key Stats: Suns