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Takeaways from Wizards' Game 2 win over Atlanta Hawks behind John Wall's big night

Takeaways from Wizards' Game 2 win over Atlanta Hawks behind John Wall's big night

As entertainment value goes, there was no rhythm, painful poor shooting and a plethora of whistles that “refs you suck” chants became the most entertaining part of Game 2 between the Wizards and Atlanta Hawks at Verizon Center on Wednesday

The uneven affair ended in a 109-101 as the Wizards took a 2-0 lead in front of another sellout of 20,356. Game 3 takes place Saturday at Phillips Arena.

The Wizards led by as many as 10 points in the first half but were undone by foul trouble across the board. It wasn’t until Bradley Beal’s three midway through the fourth quarter to give them a 91-89 lead did they pull away.

John Wall (32 points, nine assists, five rebounds) kept Washington ahead most of the game as they took a 51-43 lead at the half despite just eight fast-break points.

As fouls disrupted Scott Brooks’ rotations, the Wizards finally were able to create separation near the end. Beal (31 points) and Marcin Gortat (14 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks) carried the offense along with Brandon Jennings (10 points).

Jennings has a series of jumpers and an assist to Jason Smith (eight points, eight rebounds) to get the score tied at 84 for the final push.

But it was a jumper by Wall off of Gortat’s screen and a dunk off a turnover by Atlanta for a 103-98 lead with 65 seconds left.

Paul Millsap (27 points, 10 rebounds) led Atlanta, with Dennis Schroder (23 points), Taurean Prince (12 points) and Kent Bazemore (eight points) contributing.

--The Hawks’ first major adjustment was moving Millsap to center and when they came back to take a 24-23 lead at the end of the first quarter it was jump-started that way. Millsap made a bank shot, assisted Bazemore on a make and had a steal that cut a 10-point deficit in half quickly. They also played Millsap as the five in the fourth while Dwight Howard (six points, seven rebounds) only logged 20 minutes.

[RELATED: Brooks goes 1-on-1 to talk the edge Morris brings to Wizards]

-- After 21 turnovers in Game 1, Atlanta had 18. A giveaway in the final minute is how Wall made it a two-possession game. The Wizards scored 23 points on them.

--Jennings went back to being an open door on defense. Schroder and Bazemore had simple drivebys to get to the rim that allowed Atlanta to lead by as much as four in the first quarter. Jose Calderon (two points) is a much better matchup for Jennings, who can better stay in front of him and isn’t at a significant strength disadvantage. Schroder went immediately by Jennings for a layup, then made two free throws, two free throws for Bazemore and consecutive layups for Schroder. To start the fourth, Mike Muscala (two points) got a dunk because Smith had to help Jennings for allowing Calderon in the paint. Morris got his fifth foul in similar fashion, after Jennings gambled for a reacharound on Tim Hardaway (19 points) to prevent a dunk.

--Beal had his share of open shots and mismatches but was indecisive. He hesitated on at least three open looks in the first half. Then late in the second quarter he had Muscala on a mismatch at the arc, held the ball and got off an awkward shot in the lane that wasn’t close. It continued in the third when Beal missed a shot in the lane and then passed on an open look to Smith who missed the corner jumper. Beal, however, had 14 points in the fourth.

--Howard was absent for most of the second quarter as Muscala got most of the time. Gortat had to make him pay and did. Wall continued to run the pick-and-roll and Muscala was unable to defend it (like Howard) but instead of giving up the lane jumper it was clean dives to the rim. On two occasions, Millsap was late as the 2 vs. 1 coverage on the ballhandler (Wall) couldn’t prevent the pass.

--The shooting was terrible. In the first half, the teams combined to go 32-for-85 from the field, or 37%. The Hawks were 0-for-8 on threes. They ended 4-for-20, or 20%.

--After complaints from Millsap about Game 1 being too physical – and around the league others upset with game officials being too passive – the first half alone had 29 fouls called. Bojan Bogdanovic (six points), Morris and Otto Porter (four points) had three each. Muscala had three for Atlanta. The free throws attempted were almost even, an 18-16 edge for the visitors. The third quarter, however, was an ugly affair. Porter had to leave after his fourth foul just 1:40 had elapsed. Morris earned his fourth foul two minutes later. Howard picked up his fourth at 7:30, Smith’s came at 3:38 and Bazemore got his at 1:37. There were 55 total fouls called that led to 71 free throws.

--The Wizards ran plays immediately for Porter out of halftime but his foul trouble prevented him for doing much. Through three quarters he shot just 1-for-4, his only bucket coming on a dunk in transition.

--The transition game was limited for the Wizards because there were numbers back and contesting at the rim every time Wall pushed. But that left shooters open on the kickouts. The Wizards didn’t maximize their chances to make them pay as Porter was scoreless (0-for-2) and Beal (4-for-11) off rhythm.

--The biggest assist of the game may have come in the third quarter when Smith held back Beal as he was going at crew chief Marc Davis over a call. A delay of game was assessed.

[RELATED: Wizards like to have enforcer Morris on their side: 'He's not scared of anybody']

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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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