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Bench almost brings Wizards back

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Bench almost brings Wizards back

For those that read numerous season previews about the John Wall and Nene-less Washington Wizards, what a shame. As it turns, watching the entirety of Tuesday's 94-84 season opening loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers neatly summed up the pros and cons of the current roster.

Even with rookie guard Bradley Beal, the starting lineup lacks consistent scoring and offensive playmakers.

Even without three key players, the Wizards showed a deep reservoir of resolve in a near magical fourth quarter comeback, a carryover from last season's closing six-game winning streak.

Sans Nene and Kevin Seraphin, the primary frontcourt rotation is vertically challenged. Against a relentless Anderson Varejao and the Cavs, that led to a decisive beat down on the boards and never-ending supply of second-chance points for the home team.

The overall depth on the team is evident, especially when the reserves enter. Against Cleveland, quantity could not beat quality, i.e Varejao and Kyrie Irving, though the fourth quarter lineup of Jordan Crawford, Martell Webster, Chris Singleton, Jannero Pargo and Earl Barron (yes, I said Earl Barron) nearly did.

Trailing by as many as 16 points and 74-62 entering the fourth, Washington's bench opened the final 12 minutes with a 14-0 run, highlighted by Barron's interior activity and capped by Pargo's go-ahead 3-pointer. After some counterpunch scoring on both ends, the Cavs closed the game on a 14-4 run, tallying the final eight points including three consecutive dunks by Tristan Thompson.  

Player stats: We likely witnessed the lowest individual point total for a Wizards top scorer in any game this season. Crawford paced the locals with 11 points. Emeka Okafor added 10. That's it, that's the list of Washington double-digit scorers. Seven players scored at least seven points including Trevor Ariza and Webster with nine each. Beal scored eight points in his first official NBA action. Playing the entire fourth quarter, Barron led Washington with eight rebounds and the 7-foot journeyman added eight points...With no Wall on the other side, Irving picked his spots in terms of where to shoot from and when to impose his will, leading all scorers with 29 points. However, it was Varejao's career-high night -- 23 rebounds and 9 assists -- that hampered the Wizards throughout. His rebounding total included 12 off the offensive glass and Cleveland finished with a 54-39 overall rebounding advantage.

Key game stat: Both teams finished with 18 offensive rebounds, but the Cavs put their extra opportunities to good use, finishing with a 24-7 second-chance point edge.

Beal vs. Waiters: If you're scoring at home, this one goes to Cleveland's rookie wing guard, who finished with 17 points and three steals. Aggressive on both ends, Waiters found scoring success by running the court and penetrating past the Wizards defense. The noted defender also helped stifle Beal, who did not score from the field after the first quarter and missed his final five shots. Beal flashed his deep range and textbook jumper on two early 3's, but also had his pocket picked by Waiters near half court, leading to an easy two by the former Syracuse sixth-man. Without Wall and Nene, opposing teams are game planning for the Wizards touted rookie. Including the closing stretch of the preseason, the defenses are winning the battle right now against the 19-year-old. The key word there is "now."

Struggling starters: The group of Okafor, Beal, A.J. Price and the two Trevor's, Ariza and Booker finished a combined 13 of 48 (27.1 percent) from the field. That's some serious clanking. Booker appeared lost with the Wizards largely in halfcourt offense mode during the first half while Price missed 11 of 13 shots including seven of nine from beyond the arc. In this lineup, only Beal is a natural scorer, but he's currently best helped when others are creating opportunities and then kicking the ball outside. That's simply not an element this group offers. Should Wittman start tweaking his rotation before Washington's next game, one could imagine him putting another shooter (Webster) or more size (Vesely) on the court from the start.

Next up: The Wizards open a home-and-home set on Saturday with the Celtics, also first night losers. Against defending NBA champion Miami, Boston fell 120-107, meaning Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and company will enter the Verizon Center as unhappy campers. That and superior edge in talent means Washington faces a potential 0-3 start to the new season.

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5 things to know about new Wizards player Ramon Sessions

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Associated Press

5 things to know about new Wizards player Ramon Sessions

The Washington Wizards signed point guard Ramon Sessions to a 10-day free agent contract on Thursday. Here are five things to know about the newest Wizards player...

**Sessions has played for Washington before. He was acquired by the Wizards at the trade deadline in 2015 and played out the 2014-15 season, appearing in 28 regular season games and 10 more in the playoffs. Sessions then spent the whole 2015-16 season with the team before leaving the following summer to sign a free agent deal with the Charlotte Hornets. In 1 1/2 seasons with the Wizards, Sessions averaged 9.2 points, 3.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds. He shot 46 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from three.

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**Sessions played one season for the Hornets and spent part of this year with the New York Knicks. The Knicks waived Sessions on Jan. 13. Over the past two seasons in Charlotte and New York, Sessions has averaged 5.7 points, 2.5 assists and 1.4 rebounds while shooting 37 percent.

**This is Sessions' 11th NBA season. In addition to the Wizards, Hornets and Knicks, he has spent time with the Bucks, Cavs, Lakers and Kings. He began his career in Milwaukee after getting selected in the second round of the 2007 draft.

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**Sessions went to the University of Nevada from 2004 through 2007 and left an impressive legacy as one of the best players in the program's history. The school's practice facility is, in fact, named after Sessions. It is called the 'Ramon Sessions Basketball Performance Center' and Sessions donated $1 million towards construction costs.

**Sessions overlapped with former Wizards player JaVale McGee at Nevada. Sessions was in his final season as a junior when McGee was a freshman. The Wolfpack were quite good that year. They peaked at No. 10 in the nation, the highest ranking in school history, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

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Remember Ramon Sessions? Wizards bring back familiar face, sources confirm

Remember Ramon Sessions? Wizards bring back familiar face, sources confirm

For the Wizards, with a tough stretch coming and with John Wall still sidelined, depth and health is of the utmost importance.

With the team set to begin the second half of the 2018 NBA season on Thursday night against the Cavaliers, Scott Brooks and company decided to make a move to shore up their backcourt depth, a commodity the team cannot have enough of.

Veteran guard Ramon Sessions, who spent the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons in Washington, D.C., has been signed by the Wizards to a ten-day contract, NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller confirms.

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The news was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN . Sessions played in 110 games for the Wizards over the course of his two seasons, playing in all 82 games during the 2015-16 season.

He joins the Wizards again having been waived by the New York Knicks on Jan. 13. Sessions averaged 12.8 mpg in 13 games for the Knicks.

Sessions is rejoining a former team for the third time in his career, having played in Milwaukee and Charlotte on two separate occasions.