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Morning tip: Can Humphries evolve into stretch 4? He's trying

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Morning tip: Can Humphries evolve into stretch 4? He's trying

For Kris Humphries to retain his minutes in the future with the Wizards, he realizes where he has to expand his game in the same way Drew Gooden re-invented himself by becoming a three-point shooter.

"I never really worked on shooting threes and stuff. I started working on it this year," said Humphries, a power forward who has a mid-range game and doesn't play much with his back to the basket on offense. "I had a lot of success in the last month (practicing) or so I really working on it every day, continue to work on it next year, add to my game."

Humphries has made just two in his career and those game as a rookie in 2004-05. He was 0-for-7 in his first season in Washington. After the Wizards' season ended in an Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Atlanta Hawks, coach Randy Wittman insisted that playing smaller and faster, meaning using more stretch shooters such as Gooden and Paul Pierce (if he returns) at Humphries' spot, is imperative to be a championship team. 

"I never really got up the attempts or really put the focus on it. Maybe the way this team has been playing I will," Humphries said. "It's only a couple feet difference from where I shoot it really well right now."

While Humphries is a solid rebounder, the spacing on the floor changed for the Wizards after their 31-15 start. The mid-range game didn't work as well and opponents took it away. When they flourished in the playoffs, dealing with the small-ball lineups of the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta that shredded them during the regular season, the Wizards went with Gooden as the backup to Nene. It changed both series and made the Wizards competitive against the No. 1 seed Hawks despite losing John Wall for three games with a broken left wrist. 

Humphries had missed 17 games late in the season because of a left groin strain and despite getting minutes initially to play his way back in the rotation he couldn't. Conditioning was an issue, too.

"It didn't help," said Humphries, who averaged 8.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in 64 appearances. "I can tell you that much. It's one of those things you just sit back and think about. It's tough to see things that you can do to help and not be out there. It's a game. You got to support your teammates."

The Wizards were so successful in sweeping Toronto, who'd beaten them in all three regular-season games, they stuck with Gooden as the rotations tightened as expected. More of the offense ran through Marcin Gortat with pick-and-rolls with Wall while Nene focused on rebounding and doing more of the dirty work. 

But the series with Atlanta changed in Game 5 when Al Horford's buzzer-beating putback gave them a 3-2 edge. He stormed in to snag the offensive rebound from Nene who shouldered much of the blame. Nene, however, followed the ball into the paint on a drive by Dennis Schroder and had to seal Paul Millsap, who had gotten inside of Pierce for rebounding position. Horford had an unobstructed run at full-speed to recoup Schroder's miss. 

The sequence was difficult to watch for Humphries. He only appeared in garbage time of Game 4 in the first round and never played in the second round. 

"Any time you're a guy who's been a great rebounder your whole career and you see them kind of beating you on hustle plays, stuff around the bucket, it's tough," said Humphries. "I thought I handled it well. It's frustrating. You want your team to win. You want to advance as far as possible, knowing that you've been an integral part of what the team was doing all year so I think it throws you for a loop. It's tough. It's the NBA. Got to prepare for anything. Move forward."

MORE WIZARDS: No excuses: John Wall deserves All-NBA over Kyrie Irving

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

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USA TODAY Sports

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

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

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4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

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