Popovoch decides to sit Duncan, Parker, Ginobili Monday vs. Jazz

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Not one. Not two. But three.

In a very Gregg Popovich move, the Spurs coach will set all of his big three — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — Monday night when San Antonio takes on Utah in the second game of a home-and-home and back-to-back, according to a tweet from Mike Monroe of the Express News.

This comes despite the Spurs having an 11-game winning streak. (Popovich already sat Duncan and Parker when the Spurs were on an 11-game winning streak this season; they lost that game.) It comes with the Spurs being a virtual tie at the top of the Western Conference with the Oklahoma City Thunder. It comes without concern for the fans in Utah who paid for the tickets on the second night of a home-and-home.

This is about Popovich seeing the big picture — he needs his older stars rested for the playoffs. He has younger players such as DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal who keep Monday’s game competitive. There’s a real logic to it. So, when did Popovich decide to do this?

“Pretty much when schedule came out”

Then there was this very Popovich moment in pregame interviews, from Popovich’s pregame media availability, via the twitter of Brian Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune.

Asked “keys to the game” for second consecutive contest vs. Jazz, Popovich didn’t hold back. Said it was BS. “Make up what you want.”

The Jazz will be without C.J. Miles and Earl Watson due to injuries.

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?