Jim Boylan is in as Bucks coach, already making changes

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Scott Skiles and the Milwaukee Bucks, a couple a lot of people expected to break up this summer, decided that it was better to do it now rather than later. Skiles is out. It was not a firing, it was a mutual decision, both sides were ready to move on.

Which puts Jim Boylan in the big chair for a 16-16 Bucks team eyeing the playoffs in the East.

Boylan once took over for the Bulls in mid-season so he has some experience at it. And he’s already making some changes.

Like starting Ersan Ilyasova.

“I’m putting Ersan in the starting lineup and take Ekpe (Udoh) out,” Boylan told the Bucks official Web site. “Try to get Ersan a few more minutes, get him more comfortable out there. He’s a vital part of our success.”

Ilyasova has been playing nearly 23 minutes a game, giving them 9 points and 5.6 rebounds a game, plus shooting 39.7 percent from three. Ekpe Udoh was getting more than 20 minutes a game and giving them 4.9 points a game and he didn’t venture out near the arc and space the floor.

Look at it this way: The Bucks are +8.5 per 48 minutes when Ilyasova is on the court, and -1 when Udoh is (via 82games.com). Giving more run to the guy that helps you team win seems a prudent first move.

It’s really pretty simple long-term for Boylan — if you want the job prove you can win with this roster. The Bucks are currently tied with the Celtics for the seven and eight seeds in the East, and that would be a Celtics team looking like it might find its groove with Avery Bradley back. The Bucks are 2.5 games up on the current nine seed Sixers and five up on three other teams (Raptors, Pistons and Magic). They are in position to make the playoffs if they don’t backslide.

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?