Kobe, Durant Rose well paid for Philippines pickup game

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You make any money this weekend?

Kobe Bryant did. So did Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and the rest of the NBA players who went to the Philippines for a couple of exhibition games over the weekend where they beat some local teams.

In a story about players being serious looking overseas, Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated dropped this knowledge.

Star-studded exhibition games like the two taking place in the Philippines this weekend are proving to be quite profitable as well, with one source with knowledge of the deals saying the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Chicago’s Derrick Rose are being paid more than $400,000 apiece for their weekend of work (reminder: tax-free).

Nice off-season payday.

The point of leaking this to Amick — as well as players flirting with European teams — is to put pressure on the owners at the negotiating table. To show the owners that the players are not just going to buckle in these negotiations when the first paycheck is missed. That they are in for a fight.

By the way, the players wouldn’t miss their first paycheck until Nov. 15. By then games would already be missed, fans already would have been screwed and the league will have already killed the momentum it gained last year. And if either side thinks that it will take three to five years to get back that momentum (so the price would be worth it), they should go take a real hard look at the national economy. A lockout like this during a recession, one that costs games, will play a lot worse and be felt a lot longer than previous strikes.

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?