LeBron James calls playing power forward “taxing”

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LeBron James looked fatigued at the end of games. When he is fatigued he settles for jump shots rather than attack the rim. When he settles for jumpers everyone talks about how he will not take over at the end of games.

LeBron admitted that he was fatigued at the end of Game 2 in part because with Chris Bosh out he’s had to play a lot more power forward. Here is the exact quote via the Miami Herald.

“It’s a lot more taxing being in there with bigger guys,” James said. Defensively “is the biggest difference. When you’re on the perimeter, there’s more space. The interior is more cramped and physical. … But I’m ready for the challenge.”

LeBron did a solid defensive job on David West in Game 2 (he was 5-13 overall), but that is a big strong man and covering him no doubt wears you down.

Which ties into the second key issue here — without Bosh LeBron played the entire second half. During the regular season LeBron had the second best PER in the league in the fourth quarter (behind Chris Paul) but with the Heat’s rotations he usually sat to start the fourth and came back in around the seven-minute mark. He was rested and more aggressive

Not any more.

Now LeBron has to power through. Literally.

And if the Heat are going to win Game 3 and this series, he is going to have to find the energy not to physically fade, not to settle for jumpers late in the game. He needs to attack.

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?