Chill out Lakers fans, team isn’t firing Mike D’Antoni

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Lakers fans are looking for someone to blame for the mess that is the team they thought would contend for — some in Los Angeles thought would easily roll to — an NBA title.

While there are plenty of targets, Mike D’Antoni seems to be the main one — why won’t he modify his system to fit the personnel? A lot of Lakers fans want him gone.

Not happening. From Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.

There’s plenty of heat and speculation — and plenty for Mike D’Antoni to hash out as far as better utilizing his players, including 2013 free agent Dwight Howard — but I was told Thursday the Lakers are not considering a buyout or firing of D’Antoni as head coach.

Frankly, that should have been pretty obvious — Jim Buss invested in D’Antoni over Phil Jackson, he can’t just walk away from that. Also, the Lakers GM backed D’Antoni the other day and not in the usual “vote of confidence” way.

Two thoughts here:

First, blaming D’Antoni for the Lakers mess is like blaming a lion for not choosing a vegetarian lifestyle — all he has done is be true to his nature. Lakers management knew what kind of system D’Antoni would run when they hired him and they knew exactly what the roster looked like and how it didn’t fit that system. Mike D’Antoni is going to win his way, not yours, he is an NBA ideologue who believes deeply in what he is doing. If you don’t like it, blame management for bringing him in. Frankly, now they have no choice but to modify the roster to better fit his style.

Second, there is only one thing that gets him fired — Dwight Howard saying it is him or me, one of us has to go. The star player always wins that battle. But if you watched the Dwightmare in Orlando you know that kind of strong statement and decisive decision making is not his style. In the end I think he stays a Laker, D’Antoni stays and changes are made around them to make this work better. (Not that it can get much worse.)

As I said before, the Lakers are a perfect storm of mistakes and bad luck coming together. It’s not one thing. And with that, there is not one simple solution. Certainly not more instability and another coaching change.

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.