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Morning tip: Kris Humphries loses edge to chase rebounds

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Morning tip: Kris Humphries loses edge to chase rebounds

The returns have been diminishing with Kris Humphries, even though he's now a starter with the Wizards as he struggles to reprogram his way of thinking. What he's best at -- rebounding -- has been largely absent heading into tonight's game vs. the San Antonio Spurs (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET). 

"He needs to crash the boards," coach Randy Wittman said after Tuesday's practice. "There's no in-between. The four (power forward) and five (center) can crash the boards no matter where they're at."

After three games, Humphries has a total of 12 rebounds for a 4.0 average. The result has been after playing 26 minutes in the opener, he has been limited to 14 and 15 minutes in each of the last two games. In his first season with the Wizards a year ago when coming off the bench, Humphries averaged 6.5 rebounds.

The reason: In the newly arranged offense, designed by Wittman to increase pace and incorporating a "stretch" power forward, Humphries is staying on the perimeter to shoot threes. Since turning pro in 2004, Humphries has never played around the arc. He's 2-for-5 on three-pointers this season. That equals the makes he had from long range in his career.

"Didn't feel good (Saturday) night," Humphries said of being out of sync in a 117-110 home-opening loss to the New York Knicks. "We lost, that's the first thing. The flow. I think sometimes I get caught on the perimeter watching. Got to get in there and mix it up.

"If you're on the perimeter and you're not used to being out there, you're used to being in there and mixing it up with people, gives you energy and stuff like that. ... You got to get yourself going."

Drew Gooden has come off the bench and took a large share of the minutes. He hasn't shied away from getting in the trenches to do the dirty work. He had a double-double with 11 rebounds in Saturday's loss. He has outrebounded Humphries, too (19-12).

"We worked on a lot of times in the game, I was the last guy down at the top of key and I didn't feel comfortable going to the (offensive) boards from there," Humphries said of what he has been the emphasis with him at practice the last few days. "Being the last guy and not feeling we're going to get back, but today we really made an emphasis of one through three (point guard, shooting guard, small forward) getting back on defense and four and five going to the glass. See if that helps a little bit.

"I'll feel more comfortable if someone drives. I kind of feel like I'm out of the play (otherwise), being able to go in there, try to track a rebound or something like that."

Told of Humphries' comments that he feels a need to rush back on defense and play safety valve, Wittman said that's a mental block that he has to overcome.

"He don't need to be. That's my concern," Wittman said. "He's out on the perimeter a lot more but that's sometimes the easiest time to get an offensive rebound. We can't lose sight of that fact. You don't get hit. People don't try to block you out. Drew has done a good job of that. It's easy to sit there and watch it rather than go attack it from that position. He's got to keep that in mind."

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Wizards at Cavs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards at Cavs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle LeBron James, George Hill, Larry Nance, Jr. and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Where: Quicken Loans Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT (pre- and postgame coverage on NBC Sports Washington Plus)
Live stream: TNTdrama.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Back in action

The Wizards return to the court after a week-long layoff due to the All-Star break. Add in the fact that they had three days off before their last game and this will be just the second game for the Wizards in the last 12 days. What is this, football?

The Wizards will try to overcome the rust to keep their momentum going. They entered the All-Star break having won seven of their last nine games. Though the time off was needed due to a wide array of injuries, the Wizards had a good thing going and will aim to recapture that against a good Cavs team.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Tough stretch

The Wizards come back with a game against the Cavs, a difficult first assignment after such a long layoff. But this is just the beginning of what will be a very difficult part of their schedule. In their next 17 games, the Wizards will play 15 times against teams currently holding playoff spots. That includes the Warriors, Celtics, Spurs and Raptors.

The schedule is tough beyond their opponents. Four times in the next three weeks they will play back-to-back games and they have five games in the next seven nights. Hopefully the players recharged their batteries because it won't be easy.

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

New-look Cavs

The Wizards and Cavs have played twice this season already and Cleveland took both of those matchups. However, that was all before the trade deadline when the Cavs overhauled their roster. They have won all three of their games since and look rejuvenated with younger players.

Now surrounding LeBron James are a host of new faces like George HIll, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. It will be interesting to see how the Wizards match up with this new group.

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Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

As a member of the Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal has had many battles with LeBron James over the years, first with the Miami Heat and now with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Over the weekend, Beal got to experience having James as a teammate for the first time at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

It was an eye-opening endeavor. Beal got to see up close and personal James' abilities and his routine to maximize them. In a group of the best players on the planet, James stood out.

"It was surreal at first, just being around all the guys," Beal said. "Even just being on his team for two days, that was an unbelievable experience."

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Beal, 24, is six seasons in to his NBA career and from experience has learned how to train for the rigors of an 82-game regular season. What James does at 33 years old to stay in peak form, however, is next level.

"To see his preparation, his focus and his mentality and what he does to take care of his body before and after games," Beal said. "That's the true testament to a Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever play the game."

James actually assisted Beal's first points in the All-Star Game, a two-handed dunk in the first quarter. James attacked the rim on a fastbreak to draw attention, then found Beal with a dump-off pass for an easy bucket.

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It was an example of James' tricks of the trade. He is not just the most athletic player on the court, he is also the smartest when it comes to the game of basketball.

"His approach and his leadership and everything, it's top notch. It's crazy because you always play against him and to play with him, you get experience the other side of it," Beal said.

Beal, however, did note that much of what he gleaned from James was by watching him. At the end of the day, they are competitors and James isn't going to give away all of his secrets.

"He's not disclosing that information," Beal joked.

The Wizards happen to play James and the Cavs in their first game back from the All-Star break on Thursday night. Once again, Beal will be on the other side. 

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