Karl Malone says he would have taken Pippen over Jordan

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Note to NBA team owners: Don’t make Karl Malone your general manager.

Malone was on the Dan Patrick Show Wednesday, talking about the Dream Team (be sure to watch the new documentary on NBA TV tonight, it rocks) and as part of the conversation he talked about Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

And Malone has it backwards (hat tip to CSNChicago.com).

“I would have to start my team with Scottie Pippen,” he said. “This is why I would take Scottie: Do you remember the time that Michael retired? I watched Scottie Pippen when the Chicago Bulls weren’t really good and Scottie led that team in every statistical category, and I just remembered that. Plus, he’s a guy who could care less about scoring. He wants to stop the best player on the other team. That would have been pretty cool, to see Scottie guarding Michael.”

Those Bulls teams that weren’t very good added Jordan back and they won titles again. Just sayin’.

I get that some people vastly underestimate how great a player Scottie Pippen was. He is a deserving Hall of Famer, one of the 50 greatest players of all time. A legend. If you think even Jordan could have did what he did on his own, well, why not look at how LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have done the last few years.

But Pippen is not Jordan. That’s not a discussion we are going to entertain.

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?