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Wizards win low-scoring slugfest against Chicago Bulls

Stats, analysis and commentary of last night’s win.

Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards guard Monte Morris scored 15 points in the third quarter to help beat the Chicago Bulls.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

In an engaging and entertaining contest between two teams missing key players, the Wizards rode the third quarter scoring of Monte Morris, a career-high 18 points from Anthony Gill, and a game-winning fadeaway three from Kyle Kuzma to beat the Chicago Bulls, 100-97.

For the first time in a few weeks, the Wizards were the more injured team. They were missing Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, and Daniel Gafford. Chicago was without DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball (who’s been out all season with a knee injury).

As would be expected with that much offensive firepower on the sidelines, both teams struggled to score in the halfcourt, which put greater emphasis on transition opportunities. Washington outscored the Bulls 12-4 on fastbreaks.

For the Wizards, the victory was truly a team effort. Five guys were significant contributors throughout the evening, and it was a sixth who hit the game winner.

Good Stuff

  • With Porzingis and Gafford nursing injuries, The Oldsters, Taj Gibson (37 years old) and Anthony Gill (30 years old) filled the center spot with aplomb. The duo combined for 27 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and no turnovers. They shot 10-18 from the floor. Their combined offensive rating was 140 — in a game where Washington’s offensive rating was 106 and Chicago’s was 103.
  • Trailing by 13 at the half, Morris led the Wizards to a 41-21 third quarter beatdown of the Bulls. During the third, Morris shot 6-7 from the floor, 1-2 from three and made a pair of free throws for 15 points in just under nine minutes of playing time.
  • During that third quarter, the Wizards shot 17-23 from the floor and 5-7 from three. They produced 10 assists on the 17 made field goals. Their offensive rating for the period, according to 158.
  • Washington’s defensive effort was strong. Per NBA tracking data, they contested 59 Bulls shots, 20 of Chicago’s 29 three-point attempts, and came up with 17 deflections. Deni Avdija led the team with 12 contests and 3 deflections.
  • Delon Wright may be something of a self-check on the offensive end, but his defense remains stout. He came up with another three steals last night, plus a block.
  • Avdija corralled a career-high 20 rebounds.
  • Gill scored a career-high 18 points on 7-11 shooting from the floor.

Not So Good Stuff

  • The team committed 17 turnovers in 95 offensive possessions. Avdija and Corey Kispert tied for the most with 4 each. Both had more turnovers than assists.
  • Kuzma gets credit for that final shot, but it was a poor effort from him for the most part. It took 20 field goal attempts to score 21 points, he managed just 4 rebounds, and his 3 assists were offset by 2 turnovers.
  • On the penultimate possession with the Wizards up three, Avdija dribbled down the clock in the center of the floor — the traditional NBA hero spot. Gibson set a screen, Avdija went around it too wide, which allowed Bulls defender Alex Caruso to slither through. Instead of attacking Caruso or pulling up for a jumper, Avdija through the classic hand grenade pass to Kuzma out top, who caught the ball with just 2 seconds left on the shot clock. He bricked the 34-footer. That’s a learning opportunity for the youngster. If he takes that “hero spot,” it’s on him to make the play.

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, I often find the raw numbers more useful when analyzing a single game.

Four Factors: Bulls at Wizards

EFG 0.517 0.506
OREB 8 12
TOV 12 17
FTM 6 17
ORTG 103 106

Stats & Metrics

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.

Stats & Metrics: Wizards

Monte Morris 29 56 17 124 21.7% 159 19.5 7
Deni Avdija 35 69 9 102 15.8% 124 18.6 1
Taj Gibson 25 48 9 127 18.3% 174 18.4 6
Anthony Gill 23 45 18 150 25.4% 172 16.7 -3
Delon Wright 25 49 4 92 12.2% 145 15.4 -4
Rui Hachimura 20 39 10 95 24.5% 58 5.0 -12
Kyle Kuzma 38 74 21 96 25.3% 23 3.8 11
Jordan Goodwin 14 27 6 97 21.9% -2 0.0 3
Will Barton 8 16 0 38 19.9% -127 0.0 -3
Corey Kispert 25 49 6 70 16.7% -48 0.0 9

For those wondering why Avdija’s score is “just” 124 despite grabbing 20 rebounds, keep in mind that 17 were defensive boards. At the team level, defensive rebounding is fairly important, though its value as a differentiator has diminished as teams eschew offensive rebounding in favor of getting back on defense.

At the individual level, defensive rebounding doesn’t add much. Because opposing teams don’t pursue offensive rebounds as they did in The Olden Days, most defensive rebounds could be collected by more than one defending player. If one guy doesn’t grab the ball, someone else can.

Last night, for example, a Bulls player contested just one of Avdija’s defensive rebounds. Most were a matter of him standing under the basket where the ball happened to bounce when it came off the rim. In most cases, one or more teammates were in the vicinity and would have snagged the miss even if he’d just run downcourt.

He still gets the available credit for pulling them down, of course. And he gets credit for his good defensive effort. He also gets “credit” for taking just 6 shots in 25 minutes and committing 4 turnovers to 3 assists. In a low-scoring affair where the Wizards’ offensive rating was 106, and the Bulls’ was 103, Avdija’s was just 102.

Stats & Metrics: Bulls

Zach LaVine 41 80 38 114 37.5% 235 41.0 5
Nikola Vucevic 39 76 15 112 20.5% 112 18.6 -2
Coby White 29 57 13 110 17.9% 146 18.2 6
Derrick Jones Jr. 18 36 7 187 9.3% 164 12.9 5
Ayo Dosunmu 29 58 8 109 13.6% 62 7.8 -4
Goran Dragic 15 29 4 63 25.1% 10 0.6 -1
Patrick Williams 33 65 6 77 12.4% 4 0.6 -9
Alex Caruso 28 55 6 68 20.3% -32 0.0 -16
Andre Drummond 8 16 0 49 8.5% -169 0.0 1