Cavaliers bask in another lottery victory

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Two years ago, Nick Gilbert made famous his catch phrase – “What’s not to like?” – when his father’s Cavaliers won the NBA Draft lottery with Nick as the team’s on-stage representative.

Since, Nick has been asked many times, “What’s not to like?” by interviewers who expect a response without considering that the phrase is rhetorical. Nick was asked the question again Tuesday night at the 2013 lottery, and for the first time, I heard him give a good response to the inherently impossible-to-answer question.

“Well, where I’m at now is the lottery,” Nick said.

Nick’s first lucky break, which resulted in Kyrie Irving, hasn’t helped the Cavaliers escape the dredges of the NBA. But Nick was all business Tuesday in doing his best to help Cleveland get another boost.

Once the top three picks were revealed to belong to the Cavaliers, Wizards and Magic, their representatives left their podiums and stood next to each other as ESPN’s cameras zoomed in on each individually.

Nick held a straight face as long as he could before smiling. Washington’s Bradley Beal also tried to keep a straight face, but he succumbed to smiling even sooner than Nick did. Pat Williams, who had already won the lottery twice with the Magic, immediately flashed a huge grin and gave two thumbs up.

Of course, the Cavaliers won, and Nick dropped any hints of sternness. He celebrated with large group of Clevelanders and honorary Clevelanders, most of them sporting bowties and some, including Dan Gilbert, wearing gaudy wine-red blazers with a Cavaliers logo.

“We’re going to be right back in it next year in a big way,” Dan Gilbert said with one arm around Nick.

Just behind that embrace, Tate Moore fiddled nervously with his phone.

Moore won a Cavaliers contest by submitting a video that explained why he would bring luck to the Cavaliers, earning  a trip to New York with the Cleveland contingent. Now, he was trying to use his phone to take a photo, but a non-stop flood of tweets and texts prevented the device from having any use.

The lone break in Cleveland’s good fortune didn’t last long, as Moore was fortunate enough to find someone who could help with his phone. Is he really as luck as he said in his video, or was it an act?

“Going into it, I would say I would do anything to win a contest,” Moore said. “But, hey, I came here, and we won the lottery. So, maybe it is true.”

Even on the flight to New York, Moore and Nick Gilbert routed a couple media members in euchre, a card game we like to play in Ohio, Michigan and Canada.

“Me and Nick, we can’t be beat,” Moore said.

Cleveland can’t win Super Bowls, World Series or NBA Championships. But the city sure can win lotteries.

Posing for pictures, Nick held up two index fingers to signify the Cavaliers’ two No. 1 picks in the last there years.

After the festivities died down, Pat Williams sat to the side of the studio with nobody at his side, hunched over and tuckered out. Bradley Beal hid in a corner behind some cameras to type on his phone.

And, somewhere, Nick Gilbert was smiling without any attempt to stifle it.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

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 Celtics 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. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s 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.