Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams team back up with 76ers

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NEW YORK – Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel have know each other a long time. A very long time.

“I knew him before the flat top,” Carter-Williams said. “We’ll say that.”

Now, the former AAU teammates with BABC in Boston, are teammates with the 76ers.

“It’s like a dream come true,” Carter-Williams said. “We always talked about how were both going to make it to the NBA. For us to end up on the same team is a blessing.”

They’ll provide length and athleticism and plenty of excitement, though their games both need a little refining. Carter-Williams must reduce his turnovers, and Noel could used more refined offensive moves.

But they’ll go through that process how they came up: together.

Noel, drafted by the Pelicans, initially said he was happy to play with Anthony Davis, the Kentucky one-and-done center who preceded Noel. Noel might be even more pleased to join Carter-Williams, who described their relationship as “best friends.”

Both met with the media before talking to each other – in fact, Noel spoke before Carter-Williams was even picked and learned of the trade in his press conference – but Carter-Williams showed he’s so in tune with Noel, they didn’t even need to see each other to know what the other was thinking.

“I know he’s happy as ever to play with me,” Carter-Williams said.

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?