Timberwolves sign Stiemsma to add to blocks, fouls in box score

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There’s this Eddie Izzard bit I love, where he says his counselor asked him “What do you want to do, kid, what do you want to do?” and Izzard replies that he wants to be an astronaut.

The counselor says “Look, kid, you’re British, so scale it down a bit.”

That’s kind of what this offseason has been about for the Wolves. No more lofty aspirations of radically altering the team. Nicolas Batum was a cute game and a noble effort at forcing the Blazers off their RFA-rights stump, but it wasn’t ever going to actually work. But other than that, it’s been Brandon Roy in a comeback attempt, Chase Budinger in a nice little little upgrade at the wing, and now they’ve added Greg Stiemsma, via the AP.

Stiemsma was a nice bench defense guy for Boston who double-served as “that guy that fans love because he plays hard for ten minutes, is big, strange looking (NOTE: I am also strange looking, it’s a noble attribute), and isn’t on the floor long enough for you to be angry at what he can’t do.” Kind of a Scalabrine-who-actually-can-make-an-impact type. And now he comes back to the Midwest, being a Wisconsin native.

It’s a nice upgrade from Darko, as Roy is a nice upgrade from Wayne Ellington, and Dante Cunningham is a nice upgrade on Michael Beasley or whatever they had on the wing last year, along with Budinger. The Wolves aren’t trying to shoot for the moon anymore. They’re just making good additions to a good team that’s on the rise.

No big splashy moves. They’re the Timberwolves, so they scaled it down a bit. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make smart moves to improve the team. Stiemsma’s one of those.

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?