Monday And-1 links: Rip Hamilton has a heck of a birthday cake

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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 more than old critics like slamming Seth McFarlane.

• Richard Hamilton may have had the best birthday cake I’ve ever seen. That’s it to the right (he tweeted the photo). It is real and it’s spectacular.

• Former NBA player Robert Swift had his home foreclosed, now he is just squatting there and refusing to leave.

• Former Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley suffered a stroke recently after being at the NBA All-Star Game. We wish him the best.

• Raptors fans have taken to booing Andrea Bargnani. Who should be blamed for that? Try Andrea Bargnani.

• J.J. Redick admits he cried when he was traded.

• LeBron James and Kobe Bryant today are not surprisingly your Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week. LeBron averaged 23.5 points, 9.3 assists 7.8 rebounds and 2.25 steals a game for the Heat’s four games (all wins) last week. The Lakers also were undefeated also were undefeated last week and Kobe averaged 31.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6 assists a game.

• How well is LeBron playing. Watch him make a one-handed, left-handed three-point bank shots just for fun.

• Great story on the best NBA gambler walking the face of the earth (he’s a great twitter follow, too).

• Here is another example of Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak saying they plan to keep Dwight Howard and make him the face of the franchise in a few years.

• Markieff Morris talks about getting to play with his brother now in Phoenix. It’s Jayhawk West.

• The league will not be suspending Carmelo Anthony for his hit on Spencer Hawes, according to reports out of New York.

• According to another report, the Sixers are still considering signing Chris Smith, J.R.’s brother. This seems a long shot.

• Bradley Beal chipped a couple of teeth last week.

• Playboy founder (and playboy) Hugh Hefner talks about his friend the late Lakers owner Jerry Buss.

• The Suns have cut loose Luke Zeller.

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?