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Morning tip: Can Wizards count on Ramon Sessions again?

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Morning tip: Can Wizards count on Ramon Sessions again?

Part of the reason Ramon Sessions is with the Wizards is his ability to score, a layer they'd been missing off the bench that they desperately needed to make a playoff run last season. But it's easy forget that he can distribute when he puts his mind to it, too, and he may have to fill that role again in Friday's matchup with the Detroit Pistons if John Wall remains unavailable.

Sessions had 18 points and 13 assists in Wednesday's 121-103 win over the Brooklyn Nets, and he did it in just 29 minutes. When the Wizards broke open a 54-52 score at halftime, Sessions had 11 of his points in the third quarter.

"Ramon played great. I thought he kept a good pace to the game. For us as a team to have 36 assists on 48 baskets, it can’t get much better than that," coach Randy Wittman said. "We had two turnovers in the second half."

It was Sessions' first double-double since joining the Wizards and he's the first player on this team other than Wall to get 10-plus assists since Garrett Temple in 2013.

Wall (right knee bruise) was a late scratch when he had severe swelling after a full practice Tuesday. He had difficulty walking as he left the locker room at Verizon Center and might not be anywhere close to 100 percent if he can play in Detroit. That means Sessions may have to play a bigger role regardless. 

The Wizards (38-40) have to win or they're officially eliminated from postseason contention. 

“Going out there from the jump-start knowing John is down, just got to pick up the minutes, getting those minutes consistently playing with the starters," Sessions said of joining Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal for his 138th career start and first in Washington this season. "Those guys were just setting screens. I was just trying to keep pushing the pace and play my game.”

When Wall broke his left hand/wrist in last year's playoffs, Sessions filled in but wasn't the same distributor with the ball. The Wizards lost that series in six games. This version of Sessions looked more like the player he has to be when Wall isn't on the floor, but the lowly Nets are a much easier foe than the Pistons. Sessions' career-high is 24 assists from his rookie season with the Milwaukee Bucks. 

"Believe it or not, he's just as fast as John bringing the ball up the court," Porter said. "He did a good job pushing the pace, keeping the pace going, looking for us or creating ... if they weren't back. So I think that was good for Sesh.”

Porter had 15 points. Beal made 11 of 15 shots for a game-high 25 points, bouncing back from his 2 of 16 shooting in the Wizards' loss to the L.A. Clippers.

“It went well. I have the same approach as I did if John would have played. I was aggressive. I was able to handle the ball a little more. It is what I have to do when he is out," Beal said of going from Wall to Sessions. "It was beneficial. We are going to need him."

 

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

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

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Another test

The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.

The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round. 

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Season series

Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.

If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Sixers are tough to guard

The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.

The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKING

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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USA Today Sports Images

Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

PODCAST: WIZARDS MAKE A FREE AGENT SIGNING

The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

RELATED: DURANT MAKES HUGE DONATION TO PG COUNTY SCHOOLS

Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS