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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night as they aim to continue rising the ranks of the NBA's Eastern Conference.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch‚Ķ

WASHINGTON WIZARDS at CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Spectrum Center
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: CSN+ (coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Live stream: CSNmidatlantic.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Morris' status

The Wizards made a late scratch to their lineup about an hour before tip-off against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night, as power forward Markieff Morris dealt with an illness. The Wizards were fine without him for a night, as Jason Smith and Ian Mahinmi each stepped up with season-highs in points: 17 and 16 points, respectively.

But Washington surely wants to get Morris back to 100 percent and soon. John Wall said Morris has been battling sickness for several games and that's why his production has dipped. They need to get him back and playing well before their schedule heats up. We'll see if he can go on Saturday night.

[RELATED: Wall hits circus shot from the ground vs. Wolves]

Last tuneup before Boston

Saturday night may represent a bit of a trap game for the Wizards, who know they have a matchup with much higher stakes set for Monday in Boston. The Hornets have had a disappointing year at 29-39 and currently sit 11th in the East. It would be easy to overlook them at this point of the season.

If the Wizards can take care of business, they will roll into Boston with a two-game winning streak. Getting Morris back into the mix would be a nice bonus, as well. Right now the Celtics are second in the East and just 1 1/2 games ahead of Washington. The Wizards lead the season series 2-1, so one more win and they secure an all-important tiebreaker.

The Wizards, by the way, are inching closer to securing a playoff spot. Their magic number to clinch is now just five and their magic number for the Southeast Division is 10. Washington hasn't won a division since 1978-79, a span of 37 seasons. That's the longest drought in the NBA.

[RELATED: NBA Power Rankings: Movement in the East]

Charlotte is bottoming out

Not only are the Hornets underperforming this season, lately it has gotten even worse. They have lost three straight and 11 of their last 16 games. Injuries have hurt the Hornets all season and right now they are without star guard Nic Batum, who has a serious bout with migraine headaches.

The Hornets are a vulnerable team and there is certainly an opportunity for the Wizards, who have had trouble closing out games recently against lesser teams. Working in the Wizards' favor is their streak of 11 straight wins in games that are part of a back-to-back, as Saturday night's matchup will be.

[RELATED: Wall on Cousins: 'He said he would come to D.C.']

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Rui Hachimura falls to Devin Booker in NBA 2K Players Tournament

Rui Hachimura falls to Devin Booker in NBA 2K Players Tournament

Coming off a nail-biting win over Donovan Mitchell in the first round, Rui Hachimura lost to Suns star Devin Booker in the quarterfinals of the NBA 2K Players Tournament Thursday night. 

The Wizards' rookie forward played with the Clippers, while Booker went with the Mavericks. Not only did Hachimura have the more talented team in this matchup, but it looked like he had a coach sitting near him the whole time too. 

Hachimura's biggest challenge in this one was finding easy points against Booker's defense. Booker did a good job using his center to close down driving lanes while leaving Hachimura's big men wide open in the corner.

The Clippers bigs aren't great outside shooters, so outside of a few surprising makes from Montrezl Harrell, it was a rough night offensively. Hachimura tried to go with a small-ball lineup with Marcus Morris at the center spot, but then he started giving up way too many offensive rebounds. 

On the flip side when Hachimura tried to do the same thing to Booker, Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber were able to knock those shots down. That left the door open for Luka Doncic to get open looks and that's how Booker eventually pulled away in the second half. 

It was a good run for Hachimura in the tournament. He knocked off the four-seed in Mitchell and delivered one of the more memorable moments of the first round. He just ran into a buzzsaw in Booker, who may have a decent chance to win the whole thing. 

The semifinals and finals of the 2K Players Tournament will begin on Saturday. 

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GM Tommy Sheppard says Wizards plan to retain Shabazz Napier in free agency

GM Tommy Sheppard says Wizards plan to retain Shabazz Napier in free agency

With the NBA season on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, the extra free time has given teams an opportunity to reflect on the first 64 games of the 2019-20 campaign. 

Whichever direction the league decides to go with returning to play, the 2020 NBA draft and free agency period loom large once the season is over. For the Wizards, they have a pair of key players set to hit the open market: Davis Bertans and Shabazz Napier. 

John Wall's return significantly elevates expectations surrounding the Wizards next season and will make the team's offseason decision-making process that much more important. In the case of Napier and Bertans, Washington's general manager Tommy Sheppard talked highly of both in a Q&A with Dave Johnson Thursday

"I think with [Napier and Bertans], when we acquired them not as rentals we acquired them to stay here," Sheppard said. "I think the players that we acquired, they're here to show that they can be here for the future. With Davis and Shabazz, they showed enough to us that certainly we would love to retain them. We plan to."

What Sheppard had to say about Bertans isn't necessarily new. He maintained the stance all year that the Wizards intended to keep Bertans this summer and held true to it when Washington reportedly turned down offers including first-round picks at the trade deadline. 

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Napier's future with the team, on the other hand, has not been talked about publicly by someone like Sheppard. The Wizards acquired him from the Nuggets in exchange for Jordan McRae at the trade deadline and the six-year veteran appeared in 15 games for Washington before the season was suspended. 

Napier started eight games and averaged 12.2 points, 4.4 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals while shooting 43.1% from the field and 38.1% from three. Based on production alone, it's not that surprising Sheppard wants to bring the former UConn star back. 

However, if the Wizards can re-sign Napier this summer, they'd have quite a lot of viable point guards on their roster going into next season. Wall will be back and Ish Smith will be in the final year of his two-year contract.

Napier would figure to be either the third point guard or Washington's backup shooting guard depending on how you look at things. Then you have to ask how comfortable you are with Napier potentially taking minutes away from Jerome Robinson and ball-handling opportunities from Troy Brown Jr., both young wings the Wizards need to take a step forward next year. 

But shooting and playmaking are at a premium in the NBA today, and as defensively challenged as an Ish Smith-Shabazz Napier backcourt would be off the bench, there's no doubt Washington's second unit would be able to put up a ton of points. 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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