Shaq on Howard: "Superman my ass"

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o'neal.jpgShaquille O’Neal has not only been playing like his old self lately, after his Cavaliers beat the Magic Monday, he was talking like his old self as well.

And Shaq went off on Dwight Howard and the fact the Magic chose to double team him. Starting by saying “Superman my ass.”

“When I was coming up and there was Pat Ewing and Hakeem (Olajuwon) and I never doubled anybody. You tell me who the real Superman is. Don’t compare me to nobody. I’d rather not me mentioned, I’m offended.”

“Don’t let them double team me and make it a him vs. me thing. 18 years straight: Hakeem, (Pat) Ewing, Rik Smits, (Tim) Duncan, (David) Robinson, the best of the best, straight up. I never doubled nobody. Nor have I ever asked for double team.”

Shaq learned a few things from Phil Jackson back in the day — his “off the cuff” remarks often have a subtext and goal.

Even with what’s left of Shaq, he is hard to cover one-on-one — he is too big, too strong, too savvy in getting off his shots to really stop if he gets the ball deep on the block. But he can’t beat the double team like he once did. The Magic’s system took him largely out of the game — he had 10 points, six rebounds and sat out a lot with foul trouble.

So Shaq challenges Howard’s manhood, tries to goad him into single coverage for the next meeting. Because as good a defender as Howard is, Shaq can do some damage one-on-one. Shaq was trying to set up the two meetings left between these teams, and more importantly the playoff meetings down the line.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.