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Wizards thumped by decimated Portland Trail Blazers

Washington Wizards v Portland Trail Blazers
Washington Wizards guard Corey Kispert
Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Such bad luck for the Wizards to face all-time greats on back-to-back nights. LeBron James and then Josh Hart.

Think about this a moment — three Portland Trail Blazers had career highs in scoring against the Wizards last night. Hart went for 44. His previous high was 30 back in 2018.

Rookie undrafted free agent Trendon Watford scored 27, which bested his previous high of 22.

And, Drew Eubanks — yet another undrafted player, whom the Blazers acquired in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs — scored 20. His previous high was 18.

The Wizards defense is downright hapless. Portland entered the night with the NBA’s 25th ranked offense, and they were missing Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Jusuf Nurkic, and Nassir Little. Note: this is a partial list — I’m not counting guys who haven’t played for them but are sidelined with injury like Eric Bledsoe and Joe Ingles. And I’m not counting Justise Winslow, who played well for the Blazers, but only in 7 games this season.

Washington was missing Bradley Beal — out of action for the rest of the season after wrist surgery — and Kristaps Porzingis, who sat the second night of their back-to-back.

Portland played lineups that would probably go .500 in the G League, and led by as much as 22 as they cruised to an easy win. Along the way, in their 66th game of the season, the Wizards managed to do things like take a five-second call because they still couldn’t get anyone open on an inbounds play, permitted repeated back door cuts, and offered little effort on the defensive end.

During a postgame interview, Josh Hart seemed puzzled when asked how he kept getting the looks he wanted as he scored a career-high 44 points. “We were just running regular pistol stuff,” he said.

Pistol is a basic NBA action most teams use to initiate their offense. Basically, a guard dribbles the ball towards a wing in the corner while a big man lurks around the elbow or at the three-point line to down screen for the wing or ball screen for the guard. Pistol almost invariably leads to one of two actions — a dribble handoff or a pick and roll.

Rui Hachimura made shots and continued to show an aggravating lack of urgency to do much else on the floor. On one play, the Blazers got a steal and an opportunity for a breakaway layup. A standard move in the NBA is for someone in Hachimura’s position to sprint back and go for a chase down block, a strip or to contest the play in some fashion. Hart did exactly this on a very similar play later in the game and forced a missed layup by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Hachimura jogged back and conceded the layup.

It’s difficult to overstate just how bad Washington’s defense has been. Last night, they let the Blazers shoot 57.5% (efg) and gave up 12 offensive rebounds. With so many players out with injury, Portland lacks quality shooters and good offensive rebounders.

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: Wizards 118 at Trail Blazers 127

EFG 0.575 0.554
OREB 12 9
TOV 11 14
FTM 20 26
ORTG 128 119

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

Corey Kispert 39 81 15 161 9.2% 146 24.9 -4
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 32 66 26 140 27.9% 172 24.0 -4
Thomas Bryant 23 47 9 165 12.1% 135 13.4 2
Ish Smith 25 52 10 115 18.9% 114 12.4 -8
Daniel Gafford 15 30 14 168 26.3% 184 11.8 1
Raul Neto 17 35 4 122 14.1% 123 9.2 -5
Kyle Kuzma 30 63 22 104 31.2% 65 8.5 -20
Rui Hachimura 17 36 12 105 25.4% 101 7.6 -9
Anthony Gill 12 24 6 144 18.3% 123 6.2 3
Tomas Satoransky 16 33 0 44 21.3% -18 0.0 7
Deni Avdija 14 28 0 25 8.9% -49 0.0 -8

Key Stats: Trail Blazers

Josh Hart 36 74 44 172 30.5% 494 58.6 22
Trendon Watford 38 79 27 168 18.5% 227 29.0 9
Drew Eubanks 39 80 20 137 18.1% 133 16.9 2
Elijah Hughes 3 7 6 122 75.1% 598 6.7 -12
Keon Johnson 15 31 6 122 17.1% 118 5.8 -12
CJ Elleby 37 76 10 109 13.1% 44 5.3 12
Greg Brown III 17 35 9 125 18.0% 73 4.1 0
Brandon Williams 40 83 10 79 16.5% 4 0.6 8
Ben McLemore 16 32 1 27 18.9% -242 0.0 2