Study calls Lakers, Celtics, Heat smartest spenders in NBA

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It’s a favorite little game of some to play — divide the wins by the payroll and see how much a team pays per win. It’s not always terribly reflective of reality, but it’s interesting. For example, do that for last season in the NBA and the Thunder look really good (their bills are just coming due).

Bloomberg’s businessweek.com decided to do that kind of study (for all four major sports) but tried to take a big picture view — they looked at the last five years and they gave bonuses for finishing over .500 and winning playoff games and championships.

So how did the NBA shake out? Here is their top 10:

1. Lakers
2. Celtics
3. Heat
4. Magic
5. Spurs
6. Thunder
7. Mavericks
8. Hawks
9. Nuggets
10. Bulls

Looks to me that by adding weight to playoff wins you basically made this a “win and you’re at the top” contest. The Lakers have been one of the biggest spenders (because they have the revenue to do it) but to be fair have been smart about it and won titles. Boston and Miami much the same, and Dallas has been the biggest spender of them all up until last season.

To me, it’s teams like the Spurs and Thunder that have been the smartest, getting wins while being fiscally responsible. But both of those teams were able to do that with a lucky draw in the lottery of an elite player who wanted to stay in a smaller market (Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan).

By the way, the bottom five are:

26. Raptors
27. Kings
28. Nets
29. Knicks
30. Timberwolves

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?