Mayo says he wants to emulate Nowitzki work ethic

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I don’t really think this means O.J. Mayo wants to bring in an eccentric old German guy to make him take one footed jumpers from all over the court, I think we can safely say we’re talking about work ethic here.

But Mayo told Mavs.com blogger Bryan Gutierrez (at Mavsfastbreak.com) that he wants to emulate Dirk Nowitzki’s workouts.

Mayo stepped up as a leader during those workouts as he helped the rookies build the right mindset as they get ready for their first season in the league. Mayo was in for a surprise though as he saw there was another player working: Dirk….

“It was crazy,” Mayo said with a smile. “I came in early and I knew the young guys would be here because they’re supposed to come in a little early before the veteran guys. I looked up and Big D was in here and that was crazy. I just really respect his work ethic and his resume and what he’s done in this league. He’s a Hall-of-Fame player in this league. I’m happy to come here and go to war alongside him.”

It’s one of those things it takes guys, even talented guys like Mayo, a while to learn in the NBA — the best guys work harder than you. It was true of Larry Bird’s shooting routines. It was true of Michael Jordan. Ask LeBron James and other young 2008 Olympians what they learned in Beijing and the first thing they say was how hard Kobe Bryant worked on his body and his game.

Nowitzki is one of those guys. You do not develop that arsenal of shots playing Xbox all summer.

If some of that rubs off on Mayo, if his game sharpens and he finds a better fit in Dallas, he could be happy he’s only on a one year deal — because he would get paid next summer. But we’re a long way from that. He’s got to prove it.

However, there’s an example in front of him.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

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.