PBT Wednesday morning one liners

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It’s cool because he gets to use the phrase “Magic Nuggets.” But Tom Ziller also has an interesting plan — what if the NBA did away with conferences and just took the best 16 teams and threw them in a bracket? Here’s what it looks like. And it looks pretty good.

Eddy Rivera over at Magic Basketball makes the case that Derrick Rose is not the MVP this season (even though he is going to win it). He correctly points out the Rose for MVP debate is shaking out like those baseball stats vs. scouts arguments, which is something the NBA has largely avoided so far.

The case for LeBron James as MVP. (Which was written before but feels a little off after the Heat loss to the Cavs, even with LBJ’s triple-double.)

The NBA confirms the referees got it wrong on LeBron’s three pointer at the end of the quarter against the Cavs. Fortunately, it didn’t end up impacting the outcome.

From our own Rob Mahoney: You hear announcers use the points in the paint stat all the time, but it’s not as important as you think. (Controlling the paint and boards are important, but points in the paint can be a poor measure of that.)

Awesome caricature of this year’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

Paul Pierce likes to throw gum when in Indiana.

How hard did the Maloof brothers really work to get a new arena and stay in Sacramento? Not as hard as you think.

The Knicks are slumping, but Carmelo Anthony is getting some nice endorsement deals since coming to New York. Which is what really matters, right?

The Lakers have sent Derrick Caracter down to the D-League, to get some playing time so he can develop.

Jerry West scored a hole-in-one at the Lakers Celebrity Invitational golf event and fundraiser. That’s played at the Riviera Country Club, where the PGA Tour plays when it comes to Los Angeles each February.

Style tips from Zaza Pachulia.

Andre Iguodala is scoring less but he still leading the Sixers.

A conversation with Darryl Dawkins, talking the 1977 NBA finals against the Blazers and more.

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?