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Wizards can’t build 19-point first quarter lead, lose to the Chicago Bulls by 20

Washington Wizards v Chicago Bulls
Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma had a dismal game in Washington’s loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Well, at least they found a solution to gacking up large first half leads. Unfortunately, with an opportunity to add to their advantage over the 11th place Chicago Bulls, the Wizards decided building a large first half lead just wasn’t worth the effort.

After the first quarter, the Wizards led 27-25. With a bit of math, we can see they were outscored over the remaining three quarters, 77-55.

If you think they lost because of their futile offense, you’re correct. With Monte Morris and Kristaps Porzingis out, it was the team’s second worst offensive performance of the year. Franchise cornerstone Kyle Kuzma’s play was an egregious mishmash of out-of-control drives, impossibly difficult shots, long-range bricks, and wild passes.

If you think they lost because of their defense, you’re also correct. Their individual defenders were so overwhelmed by DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. finally resorted to sending double teams just to get the ball out of their hands. That opened things up for backup guard Coby White, who hit 3-5 from deep.

This was a dismal, dispiriting game from the Wizards. Missing Porzingis and Morris shouldn’t send the team rattling into a ravine, especially with two of the alleged Big Three on the floor, a solid veteran entering the lineup, and Daniel Gafford producing inside.

The Wizards are now just a half game ahead of Chicago for 10th in the East and a spot in the play-in.

Good Stuff

  • Delon Wright made the few shots he took (6-7 from the floor and 2-3 from three), and his defense wasn’t bad.
  • Gafford kept the Wizards in the game with 5 offensive rebounds and an array of putback slams and conversions around the rim. Despite a block and two steals, he wasn’t impactful on defense.

Not So Good Stuff

  • Bradley Beal could not figure out how to get clean looks against Alex Caruso. Caruso is a terrific defender who plays physical without excessive fouling and has superb hands. He slithered through screens, played effective ball denial techniques without getting backcut, and repeatedly forced Beal into difficult shots.
  • It’s hard to understate how costly Kuzma was yesterday. He shot 4-18 from the floor and 1-8 from three-point range. As the team’s PF, he got just 4 rebounds in 38 minutes. And he committed 3 turnovers to 3 assists. As the Bulls defense demanded precision from Washington’s offense, he got wilder and more out of control. His PPA Game Score was -20.0 (note: I zero out negative scores in the tables below).
  • The Wizards apparently need a refresher course in the rules of basketball. They whine incessantly to the refs — even when calls are obviously correct — and got slapped with two technical fouls when Beal and Gafford went over the line. (Beal’s tech came after a missed call, but the point still stands.)

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: Wizards at Bulls

EFG 0.461 0.564
OREB 12 7
TOV 16 8
FTM 12 14
ORTG 94 117

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. 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 sometimes producing weird results.

POSS is the number of possessions each player was on the floor in this game.

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.

+PTS = Tentatively dubbed “plus points,” this stat is a measure of the points gained or lost by each player based on their efficiency in this game compared to league average efficiency on the same number of possessions. A player with an offensive rating (points produced per possession x 100) of 100 who uses 20 possessions would produce 20 points. If the league average efficiency is 114, the league — on average — would produced 22.8 points in the same 20 possessions. So, the player in this hypothetical would have a +PTS score of -2.8.

Stats & Metrics: Wizards

Delon Wright 28 51 175 12.6% 3.9 230 19.9 -3
Daniel Gafford 31 56 137 18.9% 2.4 178 16.9 -13
Bradley Beal 37 66 95 30.2% -3.9 72 8.1 0
Corey Kispert 24 44 96 16.0% -1.3 67 5.0 -6
Jordan Goodwin 19 35 71 9.5% -1.4 17 1.0 -14
Taj Gibson 12 23 106 17.4% -0.3 26 1.0 1
Anthony Gill 8 14 128 19.4% 0.4 -22 0.0 -12
Deni Avdija 27 49 81 19.4% -3.2 -24 0.0 -16
Kendrick Nunn 15 27 56 23.1% -3.6 -100 0.0 -15
Kyle Kuzma 38 69 54 24.8% -10.5 -131 0.0 -22

Stats & Metrics: Bulls

DeMar DeRozan 35 64 154 29.1% 7.3 437 47.5 29
Coby White 26 47 139 24.4% 2.8 346 27.5 8
Zach LaVine 33 60 122 33.8% 1.5 208 21.1 2
Patrick Williams 22 40 146 10.1% 1.3 181 12.3 9
Alex Caruso 26 47 124 12.6% 0.6 150 12.0 11
Nikola Vucevic 32 59 103 24.9% -1.7 91 9.1 0
Andre Drummond 14 25 78 11.3% -1.0 46 2.0 19
Dalen Terry 2 3 238 8.6% 0.3 128 0.7 1
Derrick Jones Jr. 2 3 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 1
Patrick Beverly 26 47 32 8.5% -3.3 -87 0.0 9
Ayo Dosunmu 22 40 13 12.8% -5.2 -125 0.0 11