Breakfast Special: RIP, My Favorite Weird Stat Story

The Charlotte Hornets got absolutely pantsed by the Golden State Warriors Sunday, losing 137-90 in the third-biggest margin of defeat by any team all year—Boston beat Chicago 133-77 on December 8, while the Mavericks beat the Jazz 118-68 on November 14.

It was Golden State’s fifth win of the season by at least 30 points, while Charlotte has now lost five games by at least that margin.

It also busted Charlotte’s net point differential to minus-1.6 per game, pretty much assuring once and for all that the Hornets will surrender more points than they score this season.

And with that dies my favorite statistical anomaly of recent NBA history; the Hornets, in 2016-17 and 2017-18, actually outscored their opponents but put up matching 36-46 records in those two years.

Charlotte is 35-41; if they win just two of their remaining six games, they’ll actually put up a better record with a negative differential than they did for two straight years with a positive one.

And no, I don’t want the Pacers to trade for Kemba Walker.

With every freaky scoreline comes even freakier stats, and Miles Bridges wins that prize in this game; he had nine points, five rebounds, and two turnovers, shot 4-of-10 in 30 minutes…and took the ultimate L with a team-worst minus-43. That was just an atrocious performance.

Over on the other side, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson played just 27 minutes each but hit a combined 11-of-17 from deep (5-of-8 for Steph, 6-of-9 for Klay), scored 25 (Steph) and 24 (Klay), and saw Steph lead the Warriors in plus/minus at plus-37.

Quinn Cook added 21 points of his own on 5-of-6 from long range and 8-of-13 overall off the bench, and just like that, 17 of the Warriors’ 21 threes are accounted for.

The Dubs shot 21-of-33 overall (63.6 percent) from out there, an eFG% nearly high enough to be functionally equivalent to hitting all your two-pointers (the cutoff is 66.7 percent, of course.)

As it stood, the Dubs’ .733 eFG% is the second-best shooting night of the season, behind Toronto’s .739 in a 122-114 win over Memphis on November 27. It’s Golden State’s third .700+ eFG% night; of the 14 such games this season, Golden State has three while Toronto and Denver have two each.

San Antonio, Denver, and Houston have the weird distinction of having both shot better than .700 eFG% and allowed their opponents to do so, though not in the same game in any of those cases.

And the highest eFG% by a team in a loss? Phoenix (natch), who lost 126-124 to the Spurs in a game in which the Suns shot an eFG% of .681. The Spurs had 11 more offensive rebounds and seven fewer turnovers in that one.

Wow, this one got long, didn’t it? Let’s go to the highlights:

Slow and Low-Scoring…in Denver? Wait, What?

The Wizards beat the Nuggets in the Mile High City 95-90 in a game that you can’t even say was right out of the Dark Ages; the Nuggets were consistently among the fastest teams in the league during those dreadful times (although the ’03 Nuggs were so legitimately awful that they posted an Offensive Rating of 92.2 and an actual average score of 84.2 points, dead last in even those garbage NBA years. Bright side, that’s how they drafted Carmelo Anthony.)

And it’s not like this latest game was played slowly; both teams got up over 90 shots, and without having the morning Basketball Reference recaps in front of me, I can only estimate the pace but it looks like the game was played on right around 100 possessions (adding in turnovers and free throws and subtracting offensive boards.)

That just means…well, the Wizards had a .435 eFG% and the Nuggets had .414. You tell me what that means.

And for Denver, when you take out Nikola Jokic, who went 11-of-15 to get 23 points and 14 rebounds, the rest of the Nuggets shot 30.7 percent.

Dear gods.

Troy Brown Jr. had 24 points to lead all scorers, Thomas Bryant and Jabari Parker had 20 points each, and Bradley Beal had 17 (and if you’re thinking “how did Washington only score 95 points?”, it’s because the rest of the team combined to shoot 5-of-28.)

But how about the 19-year-old man of the match?

No Giannis, No Victory

The Bucks lost a wild 136-135 overtime thriller to the Atlanta Hawks in a game Giannis Antetokounmpo sat with that nagging ankle injury. Khris Middleton, Tony Snell, and Eric Bledsoe all sat as well, as Milwaukee ran just eight guys out there.

Seven of them scored in double figures.

Not to take away from a team that beats the 1 seed and hangs 136 on them, but the Hawks kinda beat the Wisconsin Herd.

Justin Anderson led Atlanta with 24, John Collins and Alex Len scored 23 apiece, and Trae Young‘s 5-of-19 stinker for just 12 points was mitigated by the rook getting 16 assists.

There were a combined 234 field goal attempts, 118 attempted threes (and 39 makes), 40 free throw attempts (MIL 22-of-23, ATL 10-of-17), and 129 rebounds.

Where are Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell in all of this?

Oh, and just because Trae stunk out the joint doesn’t mean he couldn’t shine when it mattered most:

Straight clutch and all those assists puts him on the man-of-the-match reel.

Lightning Round!

Oklahoma City has gone sideways, losing at home to the Mavericks, who are 8-31 away and 30-46 overall.

The 106-103 result even came without Luka Doncic in the game.

OKC won the turnover (13-8) and offensive rebound (15-10) battles, but all those extra possessions didn’t mean jack when the bench shot a combined 5-of-24 and wasted a 25-11-11 triple-double from Russell Westbrook, who shot an efficient-for-him 9-of-19.

Trey Burke led all Mavs scorers with 25 off the bench, Burke and Dirk Nowitzki put up matching plus-14 numbers (although Dirk had just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting), and an inexplicable game ended in a Thunder loss.

Burke is your man of the match:

LeBron James may be done for the year, but the Lakers stomped New Orleans 130-102 in a “screw you, Anthony Davis” kind of game.

Rajon Rondo led the Lakers with 24 points, JaVale McGee and Alex Caruso both had 23, and Lance Stephenson had zero points on 0-of-7 shooting in 16 minutes as a starter.

Reggie Bullock (!) had 18 off the bench to go with a game-high plus-34.

Who in the bloody hell is Alex Caruso? Your man of the match.

The Kings may be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t fight the Spurs like the game still meant something.

Sacramento won 113-106 on the road behind 26 points from Buddy Hield and a bench unit that clobbered San Antonio’s reserves in the plus-minus department almost to a man.

Yogi Ferrell had a plus-22 in a game where De’Aaron Fox, who started, was minus-15, and that’s a seven-point difference explained.

Highlights of a season series sweep:

And finally, the Clippers stomped the Grizzlies 113-96 in Los Angeles, powered as these things always seem to be by Danilo Gallinari (27) with the starters and Montrezl Harrell (20) and Lou Williams (17) off the bench.

The Clippers turned it over 18 times, but Memphis helpfully obliged them by shooting a dreadful 37.6 percent from the floor and 24.2 percent from three while losing the rebound battle 47-34.

Gallinari added 15 rebounds for an In-N-Out Double Double Animal Style, and we’ve got the highlights:

What a fantastic traffic month in March; this here site may be small-time as small-time gets, but those of you who keep coming back for more make this whole journey worthwhile.

There’s more coming as the playoffs approach, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!