Mark Jackson has good players in Golden State now, can he lead them to wins?

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Last season, it wouldn’t have mattered if Golden State brought in John Wooden circa 1968 to coach the team — they didn’t have enough talent on the roster to win a lot of games. And what talent they did have kept getting injured. Mark Jackson kind of had a free pass to learn how to be a head coach on the fly.

This season is going to be different.

After some deadline trades and offseason moves, the Warriors should have a starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Richard Jefferson (subject to change), David Lee and Andrew Bogut. Off the bench they bring Jarrett Jack, Harrison Barnes, Brandon Rush (he could start over Jefferson) and Carl Landry.

That’s not a contender, but it’s not bad. So now it is on Jackson to prove he can be an NBA coach and coax some wins out of the roster. Warriors GM Bob Meyers said as much to Matt Steinmentz at CSNBayArea.com.

“Basketball operations, from the ownership group, myself, everybody, worked very hard to give them (the coaching staff) something to work with. I’m not sure we did last year, to be frank. I’m not sure we could expect much from the talent we supplied the coaching staff.

“But I told Mark. I called him after the Landry signing, I said, ‘You’ve got something to work with.’ Which I truly believe. And I don’t think he’s running from that challenge. I think he’s embracing it. I think he’s saying: ‘Yeah, I do.’ It’s up to them now to go forward with this group. I don’t know what your guys’ opinions are but I don’t think it’s unfair to ask to go forward and do well with this group of players.”

Allow me to translate that for you:

“You better win now or you’ll be broadcasting again next season.”

A lot of people questioned the hiring of Jackson, the ABC analyst who had no coaching experience (but did have a long NBA career). Last season wasn’t a fair test of if he could do the job. But this season will be. It’s on him now.

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?