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Morning tip: Markieff Morris taxes defenses that fail to account for him

Morning tip: Markieff Morris taxes defenses that fail to account for him

A day off is just what the doctor ordered for Markieff Morris, who sat out the previous game at the Brooklyn Nets to recover from a sore right calf. He responded with his best game of the season Friday vs. a more significant opponent in the Indiana Pacers.

Morris' wide-open three-pointer with 50.6 seconds left held off the last push by Paul George as the Wizards (32-21) now lead the season series 2-1 and already surpass their home win total from a season ago with 23. 

"Felt good," said Morris, who shot 11 of 18, including 3 of 6 on threes. "I had three to four days off. Made some shots."

That included a dunk off a pass from John Wall that caromed, went up in the air, came down and danced into the hoop for an 18-13 lead in the first quarter; a three-pointer for a 75-70 lead at 5:24 of the third quarter; an assist to Bradley Beal for a three-pointer and a 100-96 lead with 4:02 left; and his own three that was the capper in the final minute to help the Wizards clinch it 112-107.

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' impressive win over Pacers]

As Beal missed two free throws with the Wizards up 108-102, Morris ripped away the loose ball rebound from  Kevin Seraphin and proceeded to exchange high fives with fans on the floor before the play ended. Wall would go to the line for more free throws to extend it to a three-possession game with 30 seconds left. It was Morris' 10th rebound and the type of hustle play that has boosted them to new heights in the East.

Indiana tried to defend Morris with Lavoy Allen and he was isolated and dominated at will. Whether it was being faced up or beaten to the basket for a putback, Morris' play overode Paul George's denial defense of Beal and Otto Porter's foul trouble that neutralized the NBA's most accurate three-point shooter. 

"Since the month of January, Keef has been playing great for us," said John Wall, who had a game-high 14 assists. "When teams switch he can post up and score in the post. He's doing a great job of rebounding and defending. He's shooting the three with a lot of confidence. It's paying off for us. A lot of teams leaving him open. They're not leaving Otto and Brad as much so he's the next guy they're leaving open and he's knocking down shots for us."

Morris has had to manage his right foot and ankle issues for a bulk of the season. He initially was injured in a Nov. 19 loss to the Miami Heat when he only played nine minutes before leaving. 

Morris played after that but evetually sat out a Dec. 14 game vs. the Charlotte Hornets. They won without him just like they did in Brooklyn, but the Wizards will have difficulty overcoming Morris' absence against elite teams.

Seven of Morris' eight double-doubles have come since Jan. 8 which has been key to the hot streak that rocketed the Wizards from the bottom of the East into third place. 

He had 24 points and 15 rebounds early in the season in a loss to the Chicago Bulls; 23 and 9 in a win over the L.A. Clippers; 20 and 10 in a win vs. the Milwaukee Bucks;1 7 and 13 in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers; 17 and 12 in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies; 19 and 11 in a win over the Boston Celtics; 21 and eight in beating the New Orleans Pelicans; and 24 and 10 in a rout of the N.Y. Knicks. 

"I just had some fresh legs. Made some shots. John put me in great postion to make some plays," Morris said. "And Beal draws a lot of attention... I had the energy."

[RELATED: Markieff Morris not cool with 'Phoenix Outlaws' nickname]

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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.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

**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.

RELATED: WIZARDS HAVE BIG QUESTIONS TO ANSWER IN SECOND HALF

**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.

RELATED: 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT HAS LOADED CLASS

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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.

RELATED: NBCSW'S MIDSEASON NBA AWARDS

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.