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Wizards show solidarity with coach Randy Wittman


Wizards show solidarity with coach Randy Wittman

HOUSTON -- Despite what has taken place in recent days -- the players-only meeting, a three-game losing streak and more injuries and then the death of coach Randy Wittman's older brother -- the Wizards rallied in a way that has been uncommon this season.

They fought back with a vengeance, erasing a 116-110 deficit with 3:35 left, took a four-point lead and held on two prevail 123-122 Saturday. Wittman, who didn't attend the morning shootaround with the team when he learned the terrible news, wasn't as successful fighting back tears. 

"Tough day," said Wittman, who also endured the death of his coaching mentor, Flip Saunders, when he passed away suddenly earlier this season. "But he was here. He watched every game in a La-Z-Boy and he's up in heaven watching it in a La-Z-Boy.

"Tough day but I'm proud of our guys. They fought tooth and nail for 48 minutes. Not every call went our way. Not every play was executed right but they fought and flew around for 48 minutes and came away with a win. I can't be more proud of them and proud of my brother."

The team travels to Oklahoma City on Sunday for a game vs. the Thunder there on Monday. Wittman might not attend, but team officials said that has yet to be determined. 

"How emotional he was trying to talk before the game, that kind of triggered us also," said point guard John Wall, with 19 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds. "He came in and said seems like you guys are ready. This was the first time we were ever locked in at a shootaround in a long time. ... Him not being here that was key for us."

Back in the starting lineup as the "stretch" option at power forward, Jared Dudley did his part as well. The one who called the players-only meeting after Thursday's shocking home loss to the Denver Nuggets, he responded with 16 points on just eight shots.

"We talked about that. We wanted to win it for him," Dudley said. "We wanted to win it for us also. We all have siblings. We all know how life is short here. it was definitely emotional for him after the game. I'm glad we were able to get this for him."

The Wizards (21-24) ended a three-game skid but they can start to turn the tied by beating the Thunder who torched them 125-101 earlier this season at Verizon Center.

But one thing appears to be certain that despite all of the issues they've had with injuries, lineups, rotations and Wittman's job security coming under question year after year: The coach has never lost them. The claims of "lost the locker room" often come from outside of D.C. They've just have to figure out how to stop losing games and carry over that same focus to Oklahoma City.

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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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