Thursday And-1 Links: Blake Griffin taps Chandler Parsons in the… watch the video

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like old ladies like to complain about how loud movies are now days (written sitting at a coffee shop overhearing a conversation after “Argo”)….

In my favorite player interaction of the day, Chandler Parsons tweeted the video above to Blake Griffin, and Griffin responded.

Is there anything colder than tapping a guy in the nuts then saying “I didn’t even see you there?” Ouch.

• Chris Paul has a new fragrance coming out, so if you want to smell like CP3 (and who doesn’t)….

• There is a lot of buzz that the Knicks James White has been invited to the All-Star weekend Dunk Contest. If I were a betting man, I would bet that is spot on.

• Since John Wall came back, the Wizards have been a good defensive team. Don’t just take my word for it, ask the Knicks after Wednesday night.

• The Pacers have been a defensive force this season, but will that carry over for them into the playoffs?

• After two 10-day contracts, Shelvin Mack is out in Philadelphia and Jeremy Pargo is in.

Watch a time-lapse video of a Blake Griffin/Red Bull mural going up on a downtown Los Angeles building near Staples Center.

• Zach Lowe of Grantland is one of the best basketball writers out there and this interview with Will Leitch is a great read if you are into basketball writing. Let me echo one thing Lowe says, and consider this a lesson to young writers — write about more than just basketball (or whatever your sport of choice is). The best basketball writers are the best journalists in the field, it’s that simple.

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?