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Wizards hold on to beat Bulls behind Bradley Beal's big night, John Wall's defensive effort

Wizards hold on to beat Bulls behind Bradley Beal's big night, John Wall's defensive effort

The Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 114-110 on New Year's Eve. Here's analysis of what went down...

Bulls put up a fight: This one had all the makings of a trap for the Wizards. Not only have they struggled this season against losing teams and often right after big wins like they had on Friday against the Rockets, but the Bulls are not your typical sub-.500 team. After beginning the season 3-20, the Bulls reeled off 10 wins in 12 games before travelling to Washington.

The Wizards, though, rallied from a slow defensive start to win their second straight game and build off the momentum of a big win, something they have had major trouble doing this season.

Offense has been the biggest reason for the Bulls' resurgence and they came out hot in the first quarter. Chicago had 38 points after one and shot 53.6 percent. But the Wizards got stops when they needed them down the stretch and took a two-point lead on a huge and-1 by John Wall with 29.4 seconds left.

Chicago slowed down offensively as the Wizards kept rolling. Bradley Beal led the way with 39 points, including seven threes to tie a career-high. He also had nine assists, tying a career-high, and nine rebounds.

The Wizards hit 16 threes as a team. It was just the 10th time they have had 16 threes or more in a game in franchise history, but the fourth time this season and the third time in the last eight days. Yes, you read that right.

The Wizards are now 21-16 overall on the season and 7-3 since Wall (21 points, nine assists, six rebounds) returned. That's their best 10-game stretch of the year so far. They are 16-10 with Wall this season and just 5-6 without him.

Block party: Wall prides himself in his shotblocking and earlier this season even proclaimed himself as the best shotblocking point guard in NBA history. He sure looked like it on Sunday, as Wall swatted four shots, one off his career-high of five set back on Oct. 28, 2015 against the Magic.

Wall was all over the place, getting blocks on the fastbreak, in the halfcourt set and even in the post guarding much bigger players. He even blocked Nikola Mirotic, who is six inches taller than him. 

This was Wall's best rejection. It led to a Kelly Oubre, Jr. (12 points, five rebounds) dunk on the other end:

This was the third time in Wall's career he has had four blocks or more in a game. That's tied for sixth-most in NBA history among guards. Dennis Johnson, who has the most career blocks for a point guard, also has three such games. Wall's claim isn't that crazy at all.

Oubre, by the way, has now reached double figures in points in 25 of his 37 games this season. He had 24 such games in 79 appearances last year.

Scott returned: Wizards bench extraordinnaire Mike Scott missed their last game on Friday night against the Rockets due to the birth of his second child, a daughter named Nori. Though he has likely had no sleep the last few nights, Scott picked up right where he left off in this one.

Scott lit a spark as soon as he entered the game like he has so many times this season. He had 10 points in his first four minutes and by halftime had 13 points in 10 minutes on a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 3-for-3 from three.

Scott's production was needed for the Wizards, who saw starting power forward Markieff Morris (five points, 11 rebounds) get into early foul trouble. He had three fouls by the midway point in the second quarter. But Scott, who finished with 17 points and four rebounds, got anything he wanted against the Bulls.

Scott went scoreless in the third quarter, but returned to make some big shots in the fourth. That included a baseline midrange jumper with 8:23 left that gave the Wizards a 94-93 lead. Scott has now scored 17 points or more in six of his last 11 games.

Up next: The Wizards are off Monday and Tuesday before welcoming the New York Knicks to town on Wednesday. Tipoff is 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.


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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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