Kobe Bryant gets really mean with his Lakers ‘teammates’

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The 2006-07 Los Angeles Lakers drove Kobe Bryant absolutely mad. He’s called Smush Parker “the worst” and bemoaned the attitude of Kwame Brown, two teammates on that squad who started for at least portions of the season. The maniacally competitive Kobe just didn’t take to having bad teammates.

And that team had a winning record!

Obviously, this year’s 22-44 outfit doesn’t suit him any better.

This strikes me as a kidding-but-definitely-not-kidding situation, Kobe’s way of expressing his sincere dissatisfaction in a way that comes across as playful.

But ask Parker and Brown whether Kobe is ever truly kidding. They weren’t long for the Lakers once it became clear Kobe wanted them gone.

Nick Young and the Lakers actually contributing this season might meet similar fates. Kobe has already reportedly stated his preference for Los Angeles to fire Mike D’Antoni. There’s no reason to believe he’ll be any more forgiving of these infuriating players, either. Kobe has played just six games this season, and considering how many new acquisitions the Lakers added since last year, he’s really had no chance to build loyalty to many of them.

The Lakers are 22 games under .500. They probably won’t beat the Spurs on Wednesday, but their following four games – vs. Wizards, vs. Magic, vs. Knicks, at Bucks – are all winnable. Sweep those four, and the Lakers would be 19 games under .500. That’s still a longshot, but it’s possible.

Just in case, Young better prepare what conversations he wants to have with Kobe at that point. The schedule toughens again, and the Lakers could easily slip further below that 20-game mark. Waiting for next season might be a luxury Young doesn’t have.

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?