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Fast break: Wizards regain edge on Paul Pierce's game-winner


Fast break: Wizards regain edge on Paul Pierce's game-winner

Invisible for most of Game 3 vs. the Atlanta Hawks, Paul Pierce made his presence felt when the Wizards were desperate for an answer. Tied at 101 with 14 seconds left in the game, Pierce gladly accepted the switch of the smaller Dennis Schroder guarding him and calmly backed him down, stepped back and over the help defense banked in the jump shot. 

It was a a major sigh of relief for the Wizards, who'd blown a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter without John Wall (left wrist) for the second game in a row, in front a sellout of 20,356 at Verizon Center. They lead the series 2-1.

Those were Pierce's only points of the fourth and it overshadowed what otherwise had been a solid performance for the Wizards until the Hawks' reserves engineered a comeback.

The Hawks went on a 17-0 run to cut the deficit to 94-91 on a series of three-pointers from Dennis Schroder and Mike Scott. Down 101-98 with 14 seconds left, Mike Muscala buried a three-pointer to tie the score on a broken play to set up Pierce's heroics.

Nene had his best game of the series, going 0-for-9 in the first two games, and made 6 of 7 shots to start en route to 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Beal had 17 and a playoff career-high eight assists. 

Porter had 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Marcin Gortat added 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

The Hawks were led by Jeff Teague, who had his best game of the series with 18 points, and his backup Dennis Schroder scoring 18 to lead the late comeback. Schroder scored 16 in the fourth.

TURNING POINT: The Wizards led by double digits throughout the second quarter, and by as many as 18 twice, en route to a 56-43 halftime edge. They held a double-digit lead entering the fourth and lost all of it until Pierce's shot at the buzzer. 

NUMBERS GAME: The Wizards shot 37-for-78, 47.4%, a 43-38 edge in rebounds, but the Hawks had a 50-38 edge in paint points and 25-11 in fast-break points.

DANGEROUS PLAY: Already dealing with a bad right ankle, Beal survived a scare when he had a breakaway basket but was fouled from behind by Teague. He was in the air and vulnerable when Teague came from behind and struck him across the head and sent Beal tumbling. Beal had to be restrained by teammates as Teague walked away. Upon review, it was ruled a Flagrant 1 foul and Beal made both foul shots. 

SICK LEAVE: Paul Millsap was bothered by the flu and didn't start. The Hawks tried to get away with Pero Antic against Nene and it wasn't a good result. Millsap entered at 7:10 of the first after Nene's consecutive baskets at the rim helped the Wizards lead 11-4. He didn't score in missing two shots and had two turnovers as the Hawks trailed 28-18 after the first. Millsap, not Antic, started the third quarter. Millsap was just 2 of 6 for eight points.

SLOW START: The Hawks scored 37 and 28 points to open Games 1 and 2 of this series. Eighteen is their low, and just two more than their playoff low going back to a first-round series with the Brooklyn Nets. The Hawks only made 1 of their first eight shots and shot 7-for-22 in the period, 31.8%.

QUALITY TIME: After appearing in garbage time of a blowout of Game 4 for the Toronto Raptors, Will Bynum had his most significant run. He played six minutes of the second quarter. Bynum shared the backcourt with Ramon Sessions and got into the paint, but his first pass was a turnover. He drained a contested corner three-point shot for a 37-24 lead that got the Wizards on a run to lead by 18. He also picked up three fouls in that span. Bynum returned to play 13 minutes in the fourth and got to the basket in transition while drawing a foul on Mike Muscala. Bynum drove past Kent Bazemore to get in the paint and left it for Porter for a layup for their first 20-point lead at 94-74. Bynum re-entered in the final 24 seconds when the Wizards needed ball-handlers and made both foul shots for a 101-98 lead to end with nine points.

UP NEXT: Both teams likely will practice lightly Sunday before playing Game 4 at Verizon Center on Monday (TNT, 7 p.m. ET).

MORE WIZARDS: John Wall addresses relationship with Wizards medical staff

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Wizards vs. Pacers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Pacers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, Bojan Bogdanovic and the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Season series on the line

The Wizards and Pacers square off for the third and final time this season on Saturday night and the game will represent the tiebreaker for the season series. The Wizards beat the Pacers in their first meeting on Feb. 5 and Indiana then got even on March 4. The first game did not feature Victor Oladipo. John Wall didn't play in either of them.

Whichever team wins on Saturday night will own the playoff tiebreaker, meaning that team will get the better seed in the even they finish with the same regular season record. Right now only one game separates the teams, so that could definitely come into play. With a win over the Pacers, the Wizards could also move into third place in the East. They would tie the Pacers by record and own the head-to-head series. The one variable there is the Cavs play the Bulls on Saturday. If they win and the Pacers lose, the Cavs will be in third.


Wizards have been struggling

The Wizards won their last game on the road against the Celtics, but have lost five of their last eight overall. They remain in good shape in the big picture, but could use some positive momentum. A win over the Pacers would certainly give them that with three off days awaiting on the other end before they head out to San Antonio to face the Spurs.

Defense has been the problem. During this eight-game stretch, they have allowed the second-most points in the paint per game (53.8), the ninth-most points per game (111.0) overall and the fourth-highest opponents shooting percentage (49.3). 


Pacers are tough

The Pacers may be missing two of their best big men on Saturday as Domantas Sabonis has been ruled out and Myles Turner is questionable. Both are nursing sprained left ankles. That bodes well for the Wizards' defense in the paint, but Indiana still has plenty of firepower.

Oladipo is having a terrific season with averages of 23.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game. There's also Bojan Bogdanovic, a former Wizards player who is averaging 14.0 points and shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from three this year. Bogdanovic has scored 20 points or more in each of his games against the Wizards this season. The Pacers as a team have won six of their last eight.


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Ramon Sessions signs with Wizards for rest of season, giving them long-term insurance for John Wall

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Ramon Sessions signs with Wizards for rest of season, giving them long-term insurance for John Wall

The Wizards have signed point guard Ramon Sessions for the rest of the 2017-18 season following the expiration of his second 10-day contract, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed.

Sessions, 31, has played in five games for the Wizards this season with averages of 7.2 points and 3.4 assists. He spent 13 games with the Knicks previously this season before first signing with the Wizards on Feb. 23. He signed his second 10-day contract on March 5.

The Wizards were only permitted to sign Sessions to two consecutive 10-day contracts per league rules. They had to decided at the end of the second deal whether to sign him for the rest of the season or release him to free agency.

"His reputation is amazing and rightfully so. He showed me and the staff that he comes and does his job every day," head coach Scott Brooks said. "He was more than deserving of the opportunity to stay here all year."


Sessions is eligible for their playoff roster if they do indeed make the postseason, as he was let go by New York before March 1. That was always going to be a consideration in their plans at the end of his second 10-day contract. If they were to go out and get someone else, the March 1 deadline would come back into play.

Sessions gives the Wizards depth at the point guard position along with Tomas Satoransky and Tim Frazier, who have collectively held down the fort with John Wall out recovering from left knee surgery. By keeping Sessions, the Wizards have another backup plan in place.

Brooks said on Friday that Wall will be placed back into the starting lineup immediately when he's ready to return. That was expected and it will have a domino effect on Sessions and the other guards once he is back. The minutes may dry up completely for Sessions, a 10-year NBA journeyman.

"You're gonna have guys that are going to have to be good teammates," Brooks said, suggesting the playing time would go away. "Sacrificing is a big part of this league."


Satoransky will be the primary backup to Wall and Sessions may be out of minutes alongside Frazier. Brooks did, however, note that Satoransky could spend time at shooting guard and small forward. That could theoretically open the door for Sessions or Frazier to get playing time.

Whether Sessions plays or not, he's happy to be in the fold. Though he often said the uncertainty of the 10-day deal didn't weight on him, he admitted on Friday that it wasn't easy to navigate.

"This was my first time doing a 10-day and those were probably the longest 20 days I've been a part of in the NBA," he said. "I'm just excited to be back here. D.C. is my home." 

The news was first reported by the Washington Post.

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