NBA announces All-Star Three-Point Shootout lineup

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The NBA has just announced the lineup for this year’s 3-point shooting contest at All-Star Weekend in Orlando. It is part of the Saturday night events Feb. 25 (along with the Dunk Contest and the tedious Skills Contest). Here are your contestants:

James Jones: The defending champion. Jones has seen his minutes go way down this season thanks to the Heat’s signing of Shane Battier and Mike Miller getting healthy again, but the 3-point specialist will get the chance to defend his title.

Kevin Love: Last season, Love had one of the best rebounding/3-point shooting seasons of all time, averaging 15 rebounds per game while shooting 41.7% from beyond the arc. This season, Love is shooting 36% from deep while making 1.6 threes per game.

Anthony Morrow: Morrow has been considered one of, if not the best, spot-up three-point shooter in the league since his rookie season with the Golden State Warriors. This season, the undrafted Georgia Tech product is shooting 42% from beyond the arc while making 2.2 threes per game for the Nets, and is nearly automatic when given an open three-point look. Morrow isn’t the biggest name on this list, but he’s a good bet to win the contest.

Joe Johnson: The do-it all Atlanta swingman is currently making 1.8 threes per game while shooting 35.6% from deep. Johnson hasn’t been one of the best three-point shooters in the league this season, but he’s a big name.

Mario Chalmers: Miami’s mercurial point guard has been doing an exemplary job of stretching the floor for the “big three” this season, making 2.0 threes per game while shooting a blistering 46.3% from deep. Chalmers may be a good sleeper pick, but he also might find a way to foul the other contestants while they’re taking their shots.

Ryan Anderson: Once upon a time, Anderson was considered a throw-in in a trade that sent Courtney Lee to the Nets and Vince Carter to the Magic. This year, he’s leading the NBA with 2.9 threes made per game while shooting 42.1% from deep, and making teams pay dearly every time they try to double down on Dwight Howard. He’ll also enjoy a home-court advantage, as this year’s All-Star weekend will take place in Orlando.

There’s your lineup. My money is on Morrow and his silky-smooth stroke, but I’m also disappointed that Ray Allen, who leads the NBA in career three-pointers made and is shooting a career-high 49.5% from deep this year, won’t be making an appearance. Anyways, it should be a good shootout down in Orlando.

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?