Winderman: LeBron’s comments on Lakers last play speak volumes

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LeBron James opened a window Thursday into how he views a game even when he’s not playing . . .

And it’s remarkably similar to how he views it when he is.

As he watched the closing seconds Game 2 of Lakers-Thunder from his Indianapolis hotel room, what caught James’ eye was not Kobe trying to break slightly free in the lane, but rather how much Russell Westbrook was cheating off Steve Blake in the right corner.

“He got caught peeking in the paint, and left a very good shooter open,” James said following Thursday morning’s shootaround at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

So Metta World Peace made the pass that LeBron saw from a high-definition distance.

For James, it was no different than the Heat going to Mario Chalmers for the final shot of their Game 2 loss to the Pacers, or even deferring to Dwyane Wade for a layup attempt late in that Tuesday loss to Indiana.

“I think it was a great play,” he said of the shot that came up short for the Lakers. “Ron Artest made the perfect play, and [Blake] just missed it. You make that shot, you miss it, the storyline gets changed.”

Ah, the storyline. No sooner did Blake miss then James was well aware of what would ensue.

“I thought it was a great play,” James said. “You guys know my answer. I thought it was a great play.”

And that’s the thing, he truly believes it was a great play, just as he was so comfortable in standing by how the Heat played the closing seconds in the Game 2 loss to the Pacers.

You may not agree with his superstar approach, but there is no doubt, as you listened Thursday, that he would do it the same way again.

And have the Lakers do it the same way they did Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.

It is why he is not Kobe, but closer, perhaps, in the Lakers’ lineage to Magic.

“I’m not going to get too much into it. You guys know I’ve been there before,” he said. “I thought it was a great play.”

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

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?