Doctor says Derrick Rose recovery “ahead of schedule”

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If you could be sure about one thing with Derrick Rose’s knee surgery following his torn ACL in the first game of the playoffs it was this — he was going to attack rehab like he attacks the rim. Relentlessly.

So the news the doctor who did the surgery told ESPNChicago.com really shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“Derrick is ahead of schedule,” (Dr. Brian) Cole said in a phone conversation Wednesday night. “This was part of the plan established before surgery. (Rose’s meeting in Alabama with Dr. James Andrews) was not a consultation with another physician, but rather it’s working with another therapist in collaboration with the Bulls’ training staff.”

Rose’s meeting with Andrews sparked speculation that he may have had a setback.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Cole said. “He’s ahead of schedule. [The rehab] is a way to keep things fresh for Derrick, to help give him some variety.”

Recovery from a torn ACL usually takes eight months to a year, which would have Rose back with the Bulls in December at the earliest.

Rose is the kind of competitor who would push to be back for as many regular season games as he could. If anything the Bulls need to slow him down a little, make sure he is fully recovered before attempting a comeback. They can’t risk him compensating and suffering another injury because he came back too early. He’s young and the focus needs to be his long career and not a regular season game in January.

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?