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Martell Webster finally hits his stride for the Wizards

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

Forward now a regular in starting lineup

Martell Webster will return to his previous home in Minnesota as something he never quite was in two years with the Timberwolves: a constant in the lineup.

Webster has started Washington's last 43 games, nearly as many as the 46 and 47 games he played total during each of the last two respective seasons, both of which were hampered by lower back problems that required surgeries.

"He's been healthy, and that's been a positive for him," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "He hasn't been healthy for a long time. We knew some of the things that he could do, and he has shown that his years being in the league."

Up next
Wizards at Timberwolves
When » Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Where » Target Center, Minneapolis, Minn.
TV » CSN

Webster, 26, is averaging a career-best 10.8 points per game -- better than the 10.7 he registered during the 2007-08 season -- and shooting a career-best 45.2 percent from 3-point range, which is second in the NBA behind Atlanta's Kyle Korver (46.2 percent).

The former sixth overall pick for Portland in the 2005 NBA draft was bought out by the Timberwolves last year and signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal with the Wizards during the offseason. Webster is certain to command more salary next year, creating an interesting dilemma for Washington. Trevor Ariza, whom Webster replaced as a starter and is now his primary backup at small forward, has a player-option to remain with the Wizards next season.

With the help of Webster, the Wizards are tied for 15th in the NBA in 3-point shooting (35.6 percent) entering Tuesday after finishing 28th or worse in three of the last four seasons. Since John Wall's return in January, the Wizards are best in the league from beyond the arc (40.8 percent).

"It's great for him," Wittman said. "I'm happy for him and he's playing good for us. He's given us a big lift."

Beal doesn't practice

Bradley Beal promised he'd use crutches as much as he needed to help heal his sprained left ankle but could participate only in free throws during Wizards practice Tuesday. He is listed as day-to-day but seems unlikely to play for Washington (19-39) when it visits the Timberwolves (20-37) on Wednesday.

In his last nine games, the rookie shooting guard has averaged 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and is shooting 49.3 percent from the field. More importantly, the Wizards are 12-6 when Beal, John Wall and Nene are healthy and 7-33 when one of the trio is out injured.

Wizards headed to Brazil

The Wizards will travel to power forward Nene's home country of Brazil for a preseason game against the Chicago Bulls on October 12, the NBA announced. The contest in Rio de Janeiro will be the league's first-ever game in Brazil, part of eight preseason games that will take place in six different countries outside the U.S. and Canada.

Nene, the first Brazilian player to be taken in the NBA draft, is a native of Sao Carlos, which is about eight hours away from Rio. The Wizards also have Brazilian guard Leandro Barbosa on the roster after acquiring him from Boston in the Jordan Crawford trade, but Barbosa is out for the year with a torn ACL.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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