Dwight Howard wants to play with Chris Paul. Jameer who?

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Thumbnail image for howard_Walk.jpgDwight Howard wants to win. He got a taste of it, he got to the doorstep of a title two years ago. Last year, there was Boston. The retooled — good bye Hedo, hello Vince — Magic could not match up. Jameer Nelson was back and the Magic did not get as far.

So Howard gave a list of players he wants the Magic to go out and get to GM Otis Smith, according to Ken Berger at CBSSports.com (via NBA Truth and Rumors blog).

Top of the list: Chris Paul.

Which is a scary combo — the best point guard and the best center walking the planet (well, unless Yao Ming is healthy) teamed up. Thunder and lightning. Paul coming off the pick then lobbing an ally-oop to Dwight Howard is an intimidating thought. The Magic would instantly be serious title contenders. Which they already are, but they become a more dynamic version.

New Orleans, however, does not want to trade Paul. Incoming owner Gary Chouest knows he is the franchise cornerstone — the best player, the guy in front on the marketing campaign, the guy who people pay to see play. He wants to build around Paul and float the other bad contracts around him out in the Gulf with all that oil.

Basically, Paul is not getting traded. Now now anyway — but if you’re Jameer Nelson right now, how do you feel? One season after an All-Star appearance, the leader of the franchise is throwing you under the bus. He wants an upgrade. Nelson had a good but not great season coming back from injuries, seemed to improve as the year went on then struggled against Rajon Rondo and the Celtics. For Dwight, apparently it is time for Nelson to go.

Pretty cold. Which is just how the Magic’s locker room may feel next year.

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?