Kevin Durant talks improved post game, tattoos

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Kevin Durant has been everywhere this summer — if there was a pro-am or charity game this summer, he was there. It was like he was cloned. There were reports of him popping up all over the country, most recently at a Texas Longhorns football game.

Now he’s filming a new movie, “Switch.” Which tied him down to one place for a few days, and that’s where Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman caught up with him to ask a few questions (you should read the entire Q&A).

In watching some of those pro-am games, what I noticed was KD’s improved handles on the perimeter. Something that can help him create shots. But he says that’s not the part of his game that has made the biggest jump this summer.

My post game. I think it’s grown leaps and bounds with me being comfortable down there and having a different array of moves to work with. But it’s going to be tougher during the season to do that because of a lot of double teams. A lot of (defenders) are going to be watching if I sit in the post. If I catch it they’re going to bring a double team. So I’ve been working on passing out of it and making the right decisions as well.

A lot of people in OKC smiled at that answer. We’ll see. You can’t tell how a guy’s post game improves in pro-am and charity games because nobody really plays in the post for those contests. So we’ll wait until the season. But I like that he is working on passing out of it because the doubles will come fast and hard.

The other thing that raised eyebrows this summer was when pictures of Durant with “business tattoos” on his chest and back worked their way around the web. (Business tattoos meaning they were covered by an NBA uniform, so a lot of people didn’t realize he had ink.) Really it shouldn’t be a big deal, but it caused quite a stir. One Durant didn’t get.

It was just like so what? I was wondering why people were so worried about me getting a tattoo. It doesn’t change the type of person I am. It doesn’t change how I look at things. It’s just ink. And I like ink. It’s something I always wanted to get. I was a little nervous of getting them because of needles. But I was going to get them sooner or later.

Now we wait to see Durant back on an NBA court. The movie… not so much.

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.