After five-straight wins, “content” Ainge suggests roster changes not likely

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It’s amazing what a few wins in a row can do.

While rumors floated around that Celtics GM Danny Ainge was listening to offers for the Celtics talisman Paul Pierce, the team got Avery Bradley back and started playing better defense.The result has been five straight wins and a renewed sense of confidence around the team.

And with those wins and all that confidence, the odds of a trade seem to go down.

That’s what Ainge implied speaking with the Boston Globe.

The Celtics’ transformation into a true contender may have taken longer than expected and there may be more obstacles as the season progresses, but president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Sunday that he is content with the roster…

“I think over the next five weeks a lot will be told,” he said. “I feel like we don’t have any glaring needs when we’re playing the way we’re playing. Everyone’s playing their role; whether they’re playing well all the time is not as much of a point if they are accepting a role and giving an honest day’s worth of work.”

In Boston they are pumped about the recent run of play. As they should be. However, the rest of the nation would like to see them sustain it for more than a couple weeks in January before we say they are better than the Knicks or Pacers, before we say they are a real threat to the Heat. (If anyone in the East is a real threat to a focused Heat team.)

But making a big move never really made sense — Ainge maid the conscious decision over the summer to bring back the team (minus Ray Allen, but with Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Jeff Green) and I think you have to see that through. They could keep playing like they have and be a threat come the playoffs, and if so that’s all Celtics fans could really expect. That they had one more big run in them. Ainge can tinker with the edges of the team, but I think you have to let the run play out then decide next summer if you want to do it again.

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?