Harden thinks Thomas Robinson will be fit in with Portland

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Thomas Robinson had a nice Summer League in Las Vegas. He’s a plus rebounder that not only gets the balls in his position but also takes them away from other guys, and he averaged 12.8 rebounds a game. He also averaged 10.4 points and 1.2 blocks through five games.

However, the shooting woes were still there — he shot 37 percent. He struggled to either finish inside or consistently hit a midrange jumper.

Genuine concerns about if he could overcome those shooting woes and take care of the ball (he can be turnover prone) are why the No. 5 pick from the 2012 daft — a guy taken in front of Damian Lillard and Harrison Barnes — was traded from Sacramento to Houston, then from Houston to Portland in a salary dump (so they could sign Dwight Howard).

I don’t know if you can actually make a comeback after just one year in the league, but Robinson is going to try to revive his career as the backup to LaMarcus Aldridge in Portland this season.

James Harden told Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com that he thinks Robinson can do it.

“He’s a beast, man. The league better get ready,” Harden told CSNNW.com. “He knows what his job is, he knows what he’s great at and he does it to the best of his ability. T-Rob is a very hard worker, an excellent rebounder and he’s definitely skilled for someone of his size. I have no doubt about it that he’ll turn his career around in Portland.”

It’s going to take some time, Portland needs to focus on player development with him and let it play out for a couple years. The guy can rebound and the athleticism is not in question, but he just has to get more comfortable scoring at the NBA level and taking care of the ball. He has to value possessions more.

Harden thinks Robinson can do it.

“Oh he’ll definitely stick in this league,” Harden said. “He has a great chance. He has so much upside. That motivates him, other teams giving up on him. He has the chance to do something special and I believe he’ll get it done.”

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.