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Markieff Morris leaves Carmelo Anthony with headache -- literally


Markieff Morris leaves Carmelo Anthony with headache -- literally

Carmelo Anthony didn't speak after Saturday's loss to the Wizards. According to the New York Knicks, he couldn't because of a migraine that they said bothered him starting late in the first quarter. That was fitting because for the entire second half, it was Markieff Morris who compounded the All-Star's problem with headaches.

Anthony, who averaged 35 points in the first to meetings with the Wizards this season, was ineffective in a 99-89 loss in which the Knicks blew an 18-point lead. Coach Randy Wittman went from Otto Porter, who had trouble dealing with his strength in the mid-post, to Morris. Anthony had 20 points on 21 shots, going 2 of 9 after the switch was made.

In five NBA seasons, this was the first time that Morris, a 6-10 combo forward, had matched up exclusively with Anthony. 

"We wanted to keep more size on him, be a little physical with him and keep him away from the basket a little bit more, said Morris, who had 17 points, four rebounds and three steals. 

That he did. Morris and Marcin Gortat trapped Anthony with the ball on the Knicks' first possession of the third quarter and he passed out for a turnover. Then seeming to take the challenge from Morris a bit personal, Anthony went into rhythm-killing isolations to try to get the job done. 

Anthony missed a 20-foot jumper with Morris' extended hand in his face. He bricked a three-point attempt. There was a bad pass for a turnover. A contested pullup fell short. Battling Anthony just to catch the ball cleanly on the perimeter, Morris battled him for every inch to negate him at the rim on a drive to the basket which led to Morris throwing down a dunk off a missed three-point shot by teammate John Wall at the other end. 

"Keef was really good," Wittman said. "Being able to move him over, being able to put some better size on him was big. His activity at both ends was fabulous."

The edge that the Wizards liked so much about Morris, a key reason why they traded for him last month, showed when asked about Anthony's tendency to try to bully his way against the likes of Porter who is 6-8 but not strong enough. 

"Not with me," Morris said. 

Unlike what took place Thursday, when Morris was tossed out for a Flagrant 2 foul on Isaiah Canaan in a win at the Philadelphia 76ers, he stayed out of foul trouble (two).

He gives the Wizards (34-35) a dimension at forward that they lacked when Jared Dudley was the starter. He's longer, more athletic and can be used in situations like this to give the opponent different looks.

"We didn't have anyone to match him and Markieff did a great job of contesting and challenging him at the rim," Wall said.

His brother, Marcus, is a starting small forward for the Detroit Pistons. Like Anthony, he has a perimeter skill set that Morris was used to seeing despite not being familiar with the matchup.

"I got a twin brother so some of that that's in him is in me too," Morris said in reference to defending smaller players. "(Anthony) is an elite scorer. I was trying to pressure him way out, not trying to let him catch the ball easy. That was my first step, and just contesting all his shots. If he has a good game, he has a good game."

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards change up to throttle Knicks: Five takeaways

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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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