Joakim Noah to miss ‘first couple’ preseason games due to injury

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source: AP

The Bulls open their preseason schedule Saturday in Indiana against the Pacers, and all eyes will be on Derrick Rose as he returns to action for the fist time in almost 18 months.

Rose won’t be playing alongside his team’s full compliment of players, however, as Joakim Noah will be sidelined due to injury.

From Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago:

Coach Tom Thibodeau finally revealed Friday that Noah has missed the last three practices with a groin issue, but characterized it as a minor injury. Thibodeau said that Noah would miss Saturday’s game, but Noah revealed that his absence would be longer.

“We’re just trying to be smart and I probably won’t play for the first couple of preseason games,” Noah said. “It’s unfortunate. I want to be out there real bad but we’re going to be smart and I will be ready when it counts.”

Noah said he’d play through the issue if these were games that count, but at some point his durability is going to come into question if he keeps struggling with injury.

Noah has been limited by plantar fasciitis in recent seasons.

There’s no sense playing while injured at this early stage of the preseason, so the Bulls are doing the smart thing in holding Noah out. What will be even more important to his long-term health is a reduction of minutes during the regular season — something Thibodeau has promised to make a priority this year.

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?