Dwight Howard hears boos, “Kobe” chants at Philippines game

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Kobe Bryant’s fans are passionate, blindingly loyal, defend their guy like a pit bull — and they are everywhere.

Including the Philippines.

Dwight Howard and the Rockets were in the Philippines for the first NBA game ever there — a preseason game in Manila that wrapped up before you woke up Thursday. By the way the Rockets jumped out to a 12-0 lead in and never trailed in beating the Indiana Pacers (the interesting on court note from  that game is you have to wonder if Patrick Beverly is beating out Jeremy Lin as the starting point guard spot for Houston).

Anyway, the Mall of Asia arena had a bunch of Kobe fans in it — I wasn’t kidding, they are everywhere — and they let Howard hear it, reports interaksyon.com:

During the Rockets’ preseason game on Thursday night against the Indiana Pacers, Howard was on the receiving end of some boos from the crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.

There were also scattered chants of “Kobe! Kobe!” in reference to Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, with whom Howard had a clash of personality during his one season stint in Los Angeles.

In the third quarter the crowd even gave Howard a Bronx cheer when he made a free throw. Houston fans may be doing that by Christmas.

Kobe has made multiple trips to the Philippines in the past on his summer Nike tours — the man has worked hard to build up his fan base in Asia. Those fans are like stateside Kobe fans in their passion and loyalty to the man — things Howard did not display in LA. Therefore, in the black and white world of Kobe fans, he is evil. Sad but true.

Howard should get used to this, he will get booed in Los Angeles this season, as well as some other stops as he has annoyed people everywhere with his two years of drama.

But the Philippines are the same as everywhere in another sense — win a title and Howard will shut up the boos and come back a conquering hero.

Just how Kobe turned those his boos around.

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?