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Wizards will rely on Hollins' presence most on defensive end


Wizards will rely on Hollins' presence most on defensive end

A strong run with the Memphis Grizzlies in training camp didn't produce a roster spot for Ryan Hollins, who was the final cut after he chose them over the Wizards. Tuesday, he's expected to be in uniform when the play at the Cleveland Cavaliers (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET).  

“I’m in a different place in my career. It took a lot of patience. I felt like I had one of the best camps I’ve had with the Memphis Grizzlies. Things went great," said Hollins, a 7-foot center who will back up Marcin Gortat. "I love that organization but things obviously didn’t work out there so I came home with a different hunger for the game just knowing the way I’d played and I know how much I have still left in this game. Watching a couple guys play, knowing that I should be on a roster, so it really just humbled (me.)"

The Wizards (6-8) are on a four-game losing streak and are depleted in the middle after Nene (left calf strain) went down last week. He likely won't be available for at least a week, though probably more, as he stayed behind in D.C. Kris Humphries shuffled into Nene's role on Saturday and that didn't work out well. Although DeJuan Blair has gotten in better shape, he's undersized for the position. Hollins is longer and more athletic than both.

RELATED: Wizards-Cavaliers preview: Cleveland rocks

"The guy has played on good teams. Had a stint with the Clippers. He had a great camp, hard cut for them in Memphis," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman. "He’s a guy that’s been around. And size, legit 7-foot that can run, good defender, can block shots. In size alone, we’re pretty small, especially with the injuries."

According to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Hollins performed so well for the Grizzlies that they strongly considered trading second-year forward Jarnell Stokes to make room for him.

Hollins trained at Cal-State Northridge, with women's coach Jason Flowers and Rico Hines, a former UCLA Bruins player like Hollins and ex-coach at St. John's while he waited. At the very least, he gives the Wizards a different look with the second unit. He's not there to be an offensive weapon. Hollins' job is to do the grunt work as his career averages of 3.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.5 blocks suggest.

“Adds another body, somebody that can block shots, somebody that can rebound, athletic, can catch lobs and stuff like that," point guard John Wall said of his new teammate after their first practice Monday. "He does a great job of talking defensively. That’s what he was doing today was talking the whole time.”

This is right in Hollins' wheelhouse. Originally a 2006 second-round drat pick of the then-Charlotte Bobcats, he will be suiting up for his eighth different team. He's playing for the veteran minimum for a player of his experience at $1.36 million (pro-rated since he didn't play 14 games).

“It’s really simple. I’ve been watching the Wizards and John and playing these guys a couple times a year and watching the development of these young guys through the years. I’m just impressed with the way they defend and get after it," Hollins said. "We have aggressive guards and we want to climb into the ball so if me and Marcin do our job, and DeJuan, do our job defensively it’s going to make it easier on the guards. We can really get out and play 94 feet and that’s the way we want to play as an uptempo defense to match the offense."

MORE WIZARDS: Morning tip: For Wizards to end skid, Wall shifts focus to himself

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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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