This is not how the NBA typically works. Even when a couple bottom feeders get together for a late-season contest, it’s absurd to even imagine one of the would cough a 23-point first half lead and end up losing by 18. That would be ridiculous. Preposterous. Nonsensical.
The way things usually go in the NBA is that when the league’s worst team falls behind by 23 in the first half, they stop competing and start playing for numbers. Sure, sometimes they’ll rally a bit and lose by 15 instead of 30. But they still lose.
Last night, the Wizards traveled to Houston to take on the NBA worst Rockets. “Worst” is not a matter of debate, by the way. Houston entered the game with the worst record and the worst scoring margin. Assembling a loser was the front office’s plan from the offseason.
Houston came into the night with the league’s 27th ranked offense and 30th ranked defense. They flat out stink. On purpose.
And yet, the Wizards sprinted out to a 23-point lead and then let the Rockets outscore them by 41 points the rest of the way.
Think of it: With 7:31 remaining in the third quarter, Kristaps Porzingis dunked to make the score 54-31. A bit of math shows the Wizards were up by 23 at that point. Over the remaining 31:31 of the game, the LEAGUE WORST Houston Rockets pummeled Washington 84-43.
The Wizards could do nothing with Rockets center Christian Wood, who scored 39 points on 18 field goal attempts. Wood finished the game 14-18 from the floor and 8-9 from three-point range. His shot chart reflects how easily he got exactly the shots he wanted.
For those keeping score at home, Wood’s effective field goal percentage was 100%.
Not everything was awful for the Wizards. Porzingis was good despite a poor shooting night. He got to the free throw line, grabbed four offensive rebounds and blocked five shots.
Deni Avdija shot poorly, but gave a solid defensive effort and contributed 4 assists.
Rui Hachimura had some nice moves and strong finishes early in the game.
If there’s a bright side to this humiliating loss, it’s that any pretense of contending for the play-in should be gone, even for the most delusional. The Wizards now have 11 games remaining to help their young players — and their head coach — figure out how they can translate potential into production.
The priority at this point should be minutes for Hachimura, Avdija, Daniel Gafford, and Corey Kispert. That’s the theoretical young core the team thinks they’ll put around Beal and Porzingis.
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 97 at Rockets 115
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 this season is 111.4. 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: Rockets
|Kenyon Martin Jr.||16||31||5||118||14.0%||150||7.5||4|
|Kevin Porter Jr.||36||71||11||90||18.6%||-9||0.0||15|