Jamal Crawford says he ‘deserved to get booed’ by Blazers fans

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Saying last season was a disappointment in Portland is like calling the Titanic a minor boating accident. There isn’t enough hyperbole there to do it justice.

The Blazers were a talented team a season ago, but dealt with all kinds of locker room trouble that resulted in a complete dismantling of the club that began at the trade deadline and continued through the summer. Gone from last year’s roster are Raymond Felton, Marcus Camby, Gerald Wallace, Kurt Thomas, and head coach Nate McMillan.

Jamal Crawford was also on that list, and he returned to lead his new team to victory over his old one on Thursday in triumphant fashion. Not surprisingly, the fans in Portland weren’t pleased, so the bood rained down on Crawford from the rafters.

Crawford, however, had no problem with the fans’ reaction, and said afterward that anyone who played there in the mess that was last season deserved it.

Via CSNNW:

When Crawford first entered the game late in the first quarter, he received a rash of boos. He said when he heard those rumblings of displeasure, he just took it and grinned.

“I smiled, actually. I smiled,” Crawford said. “Because anybody who was a part of what happened last year, I think deserves to get booed. I don’t have any hard feelings for the fans here. I took less to come here. I just wanted to get out here and get a win and that’s what we did.”

Crawford says he expected this type of ovation.

“Nah, I kind of expected it,” Crawford said when asked if he was surprised. “I told my fiance I kind of expected it and she said ‘No they’re not’ and I said ‘Nah, trust me.’ I had a feeling they thought I was behind coach (McMillan getting fired) and all that stuff.”

There were all sorts of rumors floating around as to who exactly was the cancer in the Blazers’ locker room, and while most of the fingers ended up pointing at Felton, it was likely a combination of veterans leading the charge against their head coach during an extremely rough campaign.

Crawford has been around, and is one of the more thoughtful guys you’ll speak with in an NBA locker room. He knew this was coming, and handled it by doing the only thing he could, which was to go out and torch his former team on the way to victory.

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 Cavaliers 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. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his 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.

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.