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Wizards relinquish 17-point lead to Detroit Pistons, win anyway

Washington Wizards v Detroit Pistons
Wizards forward Rui Hachimura threw down an impressive left-handed dunk in the team’s win.
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

For Wizards fans, last night’s game against the Detroit Pistons felt like déjà vu all over again. Washington opened a lead in the second quarter, when into halftime up 16, ran the advantage as high as 17, and then coughed up the lead in the fourth quarter. The Wizards tried something new in the closing minutes — they reclaimed the lead and pulled out the win, 100-97.

If your snark detector is going off, it’s for good reason. The game was poorly played by both teams. Both offenses were horribly inefficient — and that’s phrased intentionally because neither team could be accused of defending well. Open shots were bountiful. So were bricks.

While this was definitely a contest between two of the league’s worst teams, it had a close finish and wasn’t all bad for the Wizards. Kristaps Porzingis had a reasonably efficient 30 points and 10 rebounds. Tomas Satoransky got his first start at PG and played an unobtrusively effective game.

Deni Avdija erupted for 13 points in the second quarter, set new single-game highs for points, field goal attempts and overall usage rate. He grabbed 10 defensive rebounds, giving him a third double-double of the season and the fifth of his career. He also tied his career high for turnovers with four.

Rui Hachimura generated some buzz by throwing down a terrific lefty dunk on Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart. He followed it up with a celebratory howl in Stewart’s face, which got him rightfully slapped with a technical foul for taunting. The rest of the game was his usual not much. He had 11 points on 12 field goal attempts, went 1-5 from three-point range, and got five uncontested defensive rebounds.

The Pistons efforts to win were theoretically hampered by Jerami Grant suffering a strained calf. Marvin Bagley III had a great game as his replacement.

In a somewhat surprising development, after saying he had no plans to make a change at PG, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. started Satoransky and benched Raul Neto. That may have been driven by a desire to not have the 6-1 Neto try to defend the 6-6 Cade Cunningham.

The 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 100 at Pistons 97

EFG 0.438 0.488
OREB 11 5
TOV 15 17
FTM 13 19
PACE 104
ORTG 94 97

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 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

Kristaps Porzingis 32 70 30 114 34.9% 196 32.2 -4
Tomas Satoransky 29 62 6 135 11.4% 178 26.1 -1
Deni Avdija 32 69 21 99 29.2% 143 23.0 5
Anthony Gill 23 50 4 99 7.4% 59 7.0 9
Thomas Bryant 14 29 7 143 15.6% 66 4.6 0
Ish Smith 19 41 6 78 26.0% 44 4.3 4
Rui Hachimura 27 58 11 83 18.9% 21 2.8 1
Corey Kispert 31 66 7 68 13.3% -2 0.0 3
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 33 72 8 78 16.3% -21 0.0 -2

Key Stats: Pistons

Marvin Bagley III 35 75 25 145 19.6% 238 36.3 -5
Cade Cunningham 35 76 22 107 30.1% 132 20.5 0
Killian Hayes 29 62 10 92 18.0% 128 16.3 -6
Cory Joseph 22 47 6 158 8.2% 131 12.7 1
Isaiah Stewart 25 54 12 119 18.0% 87 9.6 3
Saddiq Bey 27 59 8 75 16.0% 8 0.9 -3
Jerami Grant 8 16 5 84 32.9% 22 0.7 2
Braxton Key 18 40 4 54 17.2% -82 0.0 -3
Frank Jackson 15 32 2 57 18.5% -108 0.0 8
Rodney McGruder 26 56 3 40 21.5% -133 0.0 -3