Metta World Peace: “I don’t see anybody getting past us”

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So much for downplaying expectations.

Not that the Lakers really could — the Lakers are the 800 pound gorilla of sports in Los Angeles with a fan base is rabid and at times delusional. After the Lakers traded for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard this summer (to pair with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol), the portion of Lakers fans that will not be satisfied until they win two NBA championships a year has been a full throat.

Metta World Peace wants another ring — he auctioned off the first one — and speaking on 710 ESPN radio on Friday (transcribed by ESPNLA.com) he was very confident they would get it and talked about other Lakers pick ups.

“With the way the Lakers are looking this year, I don’t see anybody getting past us this year at all,” World Peace said.

“I saw (Antwan) Jamison today,” World Peace said. “People forget how much a great rebounder he is. He’s one of the greatest rebounders of the game, he has the best touch out of everybody in the NBA, best touch out of all the big men in the game.”

I will go only this far — the Lakers are in the mix. Before teams even get to training camp the most any team’s fans can hope for is that their squad is on the championship tier of squads that have a very legitimate shot at a ring. The Lakers are there. So are the Heat and Thunder.

Anything beyond that is posturing. But I get why World Peace really wants another ring this year, looking at his contract and the Lakers payroll (and tax obligations) next year, and knowing they still have their amnesty available, this may be his shot.

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?