Man wrongly imprisoned for 29 years to sit courtside for Cavaliers/Celtics Game 5

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I can’t imagine what it would be like. I doubt, — no, I know I couldn’t handle spending 29 years in prison for a crime I didn’t commit with the grace that Ray Towler did. He was happy upon his release. He was accused of a heinous crime (raping a 12- and 13-year-old) only to have DNA evidence prove he didn’t do the crime. And he was not bitter about it.

Towler is a better man than I; he deserves everything coming to him. The $1.4 million plus from the state for sure.

And two courtside Cavaliers tickets for Game Five against the Celtics, as the 64 and Counting and the Dispatch reported (via TrueHoop).

(Towler) had told The Dispatch on Tuesday that it was probably too much to ask to see LeBron James in person at a Cavaliers’ playoff game.

But it wasn’t. Tad Carper, Cavs vice president of communication, said yesterday that he would invite Towler and three guests to sit courtside for next week’s playoff game in Cleveland against the Boston Celtics.

Towler at first thought it was a joke. But as it sunk in, he beamed with more joy than when he learned he was being released.

Towler is a huge Cavs fan, who had followed the team closely from behind bars. Now he’ll see them in person up close, which doesn’t even begin to make up for anything he went through.

But credit the Cavaliers for making the gesture.

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.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?