Anthony Bennett working on ignoring criticism, finding his game

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In a historically bad season for a No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett is trying to measure his progress.

Since the Andrew Bynum suspension he is getting 15 minutes a night. If you want some positives look at it this way: In his first 10 games he averaged 1.3 points a game on 13.5 percent shooting; in his last five games he’s up to 3.4 points a game on 31.6 percent shooting — not good, but not as dreadful.

The criticism piled on the rookie would weigh on anyone and he spoke to the News Herald about trying to deal with that.

“I don’t pay attention to all that,” Bennett said. “That’s people’s opinions. I have to focus on what’s going on here and win some games….

“I’m trying to get back to my old days like I was in college,” he said.

Of course he said it’s not bothering him, what is he going to say?

Coach Mike Brown had a more honest assessment.

“He’s getting better (dealing with it),” he said. “It’s helped him become a stronger individual. At first, I think it bothered him. He wants to play better and prove to everybody he was worthy of where he was selected.

“At first, I think it wore on him. Now, it does bother him, but he’s strong enough to fight through it.”

Bennett being taken No. 1, while it had been rumored a little on draft day, was still a big surprise and considered a reach. It put a lot of pressure on a guy seen as athletic but raw and a bit of a project.

Shoulder surgeries kept him out of Summer League and summer workouts, so when he got to camp he wasn’t in shape. He’s worked on getting his conditioning right and finding his game in the NBA.

At this point it’s still too early to call him a bust, but he looks more like a guy who maybe could develop into a rotation player rather than what one expects out of a No. 1 pick.

At some point when does the finger pointing fall on Chris Grant and Cavaliers management? They had a number of picks and while they nailed Kyrie Irving there are questions about Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and now Bennett. That’s a lot of high picks for a 10-20 team.

Gordon Hayward breaks leg against Cleveland in first game with Celtics

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The Boston Celtics season has taken a turn for the worse.

During Tuesday’s opening game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, new Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward broke his leg after landing following a leaping back cut to the basket.

It became immediately apparent to those in the arena, and the broadcast angle of the left leg injury was not pretty.

Just be warned here, the resulting photo and media is pretty disgusting. I let out a big yell when I saw it live, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

Via TNT:

This is just the most awful way to start the NBA season, for all of us. Get well soon, Gordon.

Kings’ rookie De’Aaron Fox commits California mortal sin, slams In-N-Out

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We Californians take a few things seriously. Surf reports, for one. Winemaking/tasting. Tech toys. Coming up with potential blockbuster movie franchise ideas, getting a star to buy in, then maybe or maybe not worrying about getting a decent script.

Also, In-N-Out Burger. If there is one thing all Californians can agree on, it’s that In-N-Out is the best burger chain in the world. It’s not up for debate.

Apparently Kings’ rookie De'Aaron Fox did not get that memo. He did a Q&A with Rolling Stone’s Seerat Sohi and crossed a sacred line.

“All I gotta say, you can tell everybody that lives in the state of California this: In-N-Out is not good.”

What’s your beef with In-N-Out Burger?
“Their burgers are overrated. They’re OK.”

Even Animal Style?
“Yes. People always say, you haven’t tried this. You haven’t tried that. I’m like, “Yeah, I looked up the secret menu. I’ve tried it all. It’s just not good.”

That’s controversial. What’s the best fast food spot then?
“Honestly, for me, I don’t count Chick-fil-A, because it’s way too good to be considered fast food. So I’m gonna say Wendy’s. Fat Burger in L.A. is better than In-N-Out.”

It’s this simple: Fox is flat-out wrong.

First off, Chick-fil-A is wildly overrated, so we know the taste of the 19-year-old point guard is off. Fat Burger is legit. But Wendy’s? Come on now, that’s just average.

If Fox had tried to argue Five Guys, I would have let it slide — I don’t think they’re as good, but I will admit a California bias. But Wendy’s? You lose the entire argument right there. It’s like saying Pixels was the best movie ever.

In-N-Out is the best. Fox needs to get on board with this.

Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic hospitalized after practice fight with Bobby Portis

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It was going to be a difficult season in Chicago if everything went right — and two days before the first game of the season things have gone horribly wrong.

Bulls’ starting forward Nikola Mirotic got into a shoving match with Bobby Portis, and Portis turned and sucker-punched him, according to multiple reports.

The Bulls have confirmed the fight and have announced Mirotic suffered a concussion and maxillary fractures in his face — the upper jaw and nasal cavity area — which likely will require surgery. He is going to miss weeks of time.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports had more details.

Mirotic was taken to the hospital Tuesday after their shoving altercation during practice ended with an alleged cheap shot from Portis to Mirotic’s face, league sources told The Vertical. Mirotic is undergoing tests, but is expected to be out for the foreseeable future, league sources said.

Mirotic will miss weeks, according to a source, and you can be sure severe discipline from the team is coming down for Portis.

In the short term, this likely means more run for rookie Lauri Markkanen as well as just re-signed Cristiano Felicio.

LeBron James will play in opener against Celtics

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Did we really expect anything else?

LeBron James was a game-time decision for the season opener in Cleveland against Boston and Kyrie Irving due to a sprained ankle. We expected he would go, but ankles can be tricky and are easy to re-injure once sprained, so the Cavs wanted to be careful.

He’s going to play. Coach Tyronn Lue made it official.

LeBron is the best player on the planet, but he can coast through the regular season at times. What teams try to avoid is giving him extra motivation… say bringing in a guy who left the team last summer on opening night. Expect full force LeBron tonight.