The NBA is back! Training camps open for Heat, Clippers, Celtics, Mavs

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The NBA is back.

Well, not games. Not even practices, yet.

But four teams open training camps with media day today — the defending champion Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics, the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers.

They start a couple days before everyone else because they are all headed overseas for exhibition games. Boston heads to Europe, taking on Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul on Oct. 5 in then on Oct. 7 they take on EA& Emporio Armani Milano in Milan, Italy. Dallas will be in Berlin to take on Alba Berlin on Oct. 6, followed on Oct. 9 against FC Barcelona in Spain.

The Clippers and Heat will play each other twice in exhibitions in China.

Everyone will open camp by next Monday, Oct. 1.

We’ll have updates from media day, although be warned now that almost nothing actually interesting is ever said at media day — media members who don’t normally cover the team come to crowd out the beat reporters and ask inane questions. It’s basically Super Bowl Media Day in miniature.

Still, it’s NBA players in NBA uniforms talking about the NBA. We’ll take it. We’re still a week away from games (exhibition games, but games), but that is not that long. The NBA is back, baby. Let’s get this party started.

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?