Belinelli beats Beal in tiebreaker, wins 3-point shootout

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In the first year of the new 3-point contest format, the 27-year old Marco Belinelli emerged victorious, holding off Sophomore Bradley Beal with a contest-high 24-point performance in the tiebreaker round to beat Beal’s 18-point performance.

The first format change, which pitted the conferences against each other and had the top shooter from each conference in the first round advance to the finals instead of having the top two scorers from the first round advance, ended up having absolutely no effect, as the finalists under the new format ended up having the top two scores in the first round anyways. Belinelli’s first round score of 19 was enough to get him past Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, and Kevin Love, while Beal’s first-round score of 21 put him into the finals ahead of Kyrie Irving, Joe Johnson, and Arron Affalo.

Both players made good use of the new all-moneyball rack throughout the contest, with Belinelli putting his rack in the right corner and Beal choosing to put his in the left wing. Beal provided some drama in the final round, as he hit his final six shots to tie Belinelli’s 19-point performance and send the contest into a tiebreaker. It wasn’t enough, however, as Belinelli turned it on to win the tiebreaker round and his first 3-point contest trophy.

Belinelli, who is a career 39.5% 3-point shooter in seven seasons with the Warriors, Raptors, Hornets, Bulls, and Spurs. This season, Belinelli is shooting a career-high 44.8% from deep, but he was still an underdog coming in. According to Bovada.lv, the odds against Belinelli winning were 8-1 — only Joe Johnson came into the contest with longer odds from the bookmakers.

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?