Joakim Noah injures ankle, “most likely” out for Game 4

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UPDATE 8:53 pm: Not good news, Bulls fans. Here is the quote from Tom Thibodeau via our friends at CSNChicago.com:

“Most likely, he’ll be out tomorrow,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said Saturday afternoon following a film session at the team’s hotel. “I haven’t gotten the grade yet, but it’s doubtful. We’ll see tomorrow, though.”

Without Noah the Bulls are going to need someone to step up with a huge game — we’re looking at you, Carlos Boozer — or the Bulls will be down 3-1 and in a world of hurt. Literally.

9:00 am: If the Bulls are going to make any more noise in the NBA playoffs without Derrick Rose, they need Joakim Noah. He’s their emotional leader, their hardest working player, the one who screams, dances, and fist pumps with crazy hair to get his team going. He’s also actually got an offensive skill set, which for the Bulls’ big men, is kind of a big deal. Unfortunately, in a continuation of how things have been for the Bulls all season, the worst has occurred, and Noah was injured Friday night in Philadelphia, badly turning his ankle. He was helped off the floor, and the Bulls’ staff was obviously careful with Noah not to bring him back too soon.

Just kidding! The Bulls staff totally let him come back in twice before taking him out. Noah left the arena on crutches, and it appears significant. No update on his status for Game 4, yet, obviously.

Here’s the play Noah was injured on. Fair warning, when Noah screams, it’s pretty gruesome stuff.

Ew. Seriously. So gross.

The good news is that Noah was able to walk it off so you have to at least have some quality hope that he didn’t fracture it. The Bulls do have Omer Asik as a backup center and Taj Gibson to help out for small-ball lineups in case Noah can’t go in Game 4, but losing Noah would be crushing for the Bulls who are already obviously without their best player in Derrick Rose.

Tough breaks all over for the Bulls.

Also, Sixers fans, must you fulfill the Philadelphia stereotype by cheering an injured player? Can’t you at least try not to be, you know, you?

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?