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Wizards storm back to stun Rockets 123-122: Five takeaways


Wizards storm back to stun Rockets 123-122: Five takeaways

HOUSTON -- Still with no answer for James Harden, the Wizards found a way to overcome him by putting eight players in double figures and coming from behind to erase a six-point deficit late in the fourth to win 123-122 Saturday at Toyota Center.

The Rockets (25-25) had two chances to win it at the end with 10 seconds left, with Harden driving on Bradley Beal but overshooting the rim because of help defense from Jared Dudley and John Wall's block attempt over the op. Josh Smith grabbed the offensive rebound and couldn't put it back as Wall took that rebound and threw the ball in the air to let the clock expire. 

The Wizards (21-24) were led by John Wall (19 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds), Ramon Sessions (17 points), Jared Dudley (16 points, five rebounds, five assists), Marcin Gortat (13 points, 11 rebounds), Gary Neal (12 points), Bradley Beal (11 points) and Garrett Temple (11 points).

Harden had a game-high 40 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds, followed by Dwight Howard (20 points, seven rebounds), Trevor Ariza (17 points) and Patrick Beverley (15 points). Beverely wasn't able to foul Wall before he tossed the ball down the court on the final play.

The win ended a three-game skid for Washington, which had a players-only meeting called by Dudley after a home loss to the Denver Nuggets.

  • Dudley was back in the starting lineup as they went away from the traditional two bigs with Nene and Gortat. Howard had 13 points in the first quarter but when Nene came in his streak ended quick. Too strong and too good on position defense. Tensions got out of hand, however, when the two got tangled. Howard was hit with an first-quarter technical foul for tussling with Dudley. Then after he squared off with Nene at 8:08 of fourth, Howard shoved him and was instantly hit with another. Nene was assessed a double technical foul. 
  • Down 116-110, coach Randy Wittman went to an effective strategy of putting Clint Capela on the foul line starting at 3:06. It worked as they were able to tie the score at 117 on a three by Wall.
  • Harden was efficient like he was when making 13 of 23 shots in the Dec. 9 meeting when he had 42 points. He was allowed to catch the ball when and where he wanted to and he danced with it. The Wizards didn't trap him hard and he was able to get to his spots, force the switches he wanted knowing that their simplified coverages would be a liability. Temple drew most of the assignment and the Wizards tried to take the ball out of his hands but Harden was hitting contested threes like on one was there. His sixth one put the Rockets up 113-107 before Washington made its run. Temple fouled out with 32 seconds left but the Wizards compensated with team defense. Harden made 12 of 20 shots in this one. That's a total of 58% accuracy in two games vs. Washington.
  • Porter, who had to leave the previous game because of tightness in his back, started but only played six minutes in the first half. He was looking for his shot and only had five points but rookie Kelly Oubre didn't get any time beyond spot minutes. Porter rode an exercise bike in the tunnel during the second half to stay loose. He finished with nine points in just 13 minutes and wasn't on the floor to end the game. 
  • Sessions exploded for 12 points in the third. He made all four of his shots, including two three-pointers, and had a steal and assist on a go-ahead three by Dudley for an 85-84 edge. The Wizards don't suffer offensively when Sessions comes in for Wall, who picked up his fourth foul with xxx left in the third. The Wizards were averaging 102 points per 100 possessions, according to the NBA's SVU player tracking data, heading into the game.

MORE WIZARDS: Nene, Howard ejected after 4th quarter scuffle

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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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