For the first time since 1999, the Washington Wizards won in San Antonio, tonight whipping the Spurs, 127-106.
It was a coming out party for Deni Avdija, who ran roughshod over the hapless Spurs with a career-high 25 points on just 12 field goal attempts. Avdija added 9 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block and even hit both his three-point attempts. He also played his usual excellent defense — both on-ball and as a help defender.
As part of the offensive game plan, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. had the team prepped to run actions for three-point sharpshooter Corey Kispert. He had Kispert screen for Bradley Beal in a set that produced a wide-open look from three.
On another play, Monte Morris and Taj Gibson ran a fake strongside action that appeared to be stymied. When Morris reversed the ball, Washington executed a weakside pindown that got Kispert another open three.
Yet another time, Kristaps Porzingis and Beal ran a horns dribble handoff that got Beal a free run into the paint. Instead of looking for his shot, Beal waited for defenders to step his way, then kicked to Kispert in the corner for a wide-open shot.
All set plays. All worked, in part because the Spurs are impossibly bad on defense.
Unseld used the weak opponent to do some lineup experimentation, including a small lineup of guards, wings and Porzingis.
Tonight was Washington’s sixth in a row — the franchise’s longest since an eight-game win streak in April 2021. The Wizards record is 24-26, and they’re currently ninth in the East. Since their 10-game losing streak in Nov. and Dec., they’re 13-6.
- This was Avdija’s best game as a pro. He played with poise, confidence and toughness. He’ll want to exercise a bit more caution on some of his drives — he got called for one offensive foul and could have been whistled for a couple more — but he was physical and finished through contact.
- Beal bounced back from three poor performances with a strong 21 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists. In the first half, I joked that San Antonio’s Jeremy Sochan should start calling him “professor” because Beal was taking him to school.
- Porzingis had 7 assists, 3 steals and 5 blocked shots.
- Monte Morris played another one of his solid mistake-free games — 11 points on 6 field goal attempts, 4 assists and 1 turnover. The team defense was solid with him in the game.
- Kispert’s usage was an astronomical (for him) 18.3%. He was 4-7 from three-point range and even contributed a couple assists and steals.
- Weird stat of the night: three different Wizards (Kispert, Kendrick Nunn and Kyle Kuzma) shot 5-11 from the floor.
Not So Good Stuff
- Kuzma was terrible — 5-11 from the floor, 1-3 from three-point range, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 turnovers. His defense, which was superb in their win against the New Orleans Pelicans was missing. He was the only Wizards player to score a negative relative to league average in my +PTS stat. He used 18 possessions to produce just 16 points — a total surpassed by Avdija, Beal and Porzingis — each of whom used fewer possessions.
- The Spurs are perfectly built to give the franchise the best possible chance of drafting Victor Wembayana or Scoot Henderson. They have one playable guard: Tre Jones and one playable big man: Jakob Poeltl. Keldon Johnson is a solid forward. Doug McDermott can shoot and will likely be playing elsewhere by the end of next week. The same is true of Poeltl, and possibly Jones. Sochan might be good someday.
Next up: Washington can finish their five-game road trip undefeated by beating the Detroit Pistons.
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: Wizards at Spurs
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
|Vernon Carey Jr.||2||5||2||225||20.8%||260||2.1||2|
Stats & Metrics: Spurs