Clippers want Lamar Odom to be more of a scorer

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Lamar Odom has always been a maddening puzzle for fans of the teams he’s played for over the years to try and figure out. He seemingly has all the tools to be a dominant player on both ends of the floor, yet has only shows it in flashes throughout his NBA career that is now in its 14th season.

Odom is more of a solid all-around talent than he is a pure scorer, and a lot of that has been due to the role required of him in order for his teams to be most successful.

He averaged 14.4 points per game while winning Sixth Man of the Year honors with the Lakers in 2011, but this season in Los Angeles with the Clippers, he’s averaging just 3.8 points per game while playing 20.5 minutes per game off the bench.

His teammates have been encouraging him to pick it up, and his head coach has talked to him about it, as well.

From Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

His Clippers teammates encourage Odom to be more aggressive on offense. Fans, the media and his critics want Odom to stop being so passive on offense.

But Coach Vinny Del Negro said he doesn’t really have an issue with Odom’s lack of offense because his versatile forward supplies so much more.

“I’ve talked to Lamar about that,” Del Negro said. “He understands that. Lamar has to pick his spots out there where he’s comfortable at. He’s doing a good job in a lot of areas for us. But when he’s open, he’s got to make shots for us and make plays off the dribble and get to the rim.”

Increased scoring from Odom would be nice, but the reality is that the Clippers have one of the deepest benches in the league, including the leading candidate to win Sixth Man of the Year this season, Jamal Crawford, who has no trouble lighting it up on a nightly basis.

It’s more about being aggressive when the opportunities arise than it is purely about increasing points per game for Odom; any team’s offense runs more smoothly when players take good open shots rather than passing them up.

It’s worth noting that Odom is an excellent ball handler, especially for his size. So if he can get to the rim off the dribble more often and distribute to his teammates rather than scoring himself, that would be as much of a help to L.A.’s bench unit as would an increase in his personal production.

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?