Hibbert says heckler “woke me up” in Game 4

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Don’t poke the bear, Wizards fans.

Actually, you may well not get another chance to poke the Pacers because one of your own, a heckler, got under Roy Hibbert’s skin in Game 4 and motivated his game.

For the better part of three quarters on Sunday Hibbert was a non-factor and the Wizards had a comfortable 14 point lead. Then in the final 3:35 of the third quarter Hibbert scored 9 of the Wizards next 11 points and sparked a run that made it a game again. A game the Pacers ultimately won to take a 3-1 lead.

What happened? Hibbert used a heckler as motivation, he told Ben Standig at CSNWashington.com.

“He woke me up,” Hibbert said in the Pacers locker room. “He said I was tired. He was saying a lot of obscenities. I’m a God fearing man so I’m not going into saying what he was saying…He got me going and I let him hear [me].”

How much of that is true and how much of that was just Hibbert feeling more comfortable and finding his groove is up to you to decide.

A whole lot of NBA players use what people say about them as motivation — author Roland Lazenby recently said on the PBT Podcast Michael Jordan used to make stuff up then get mad about it to motivate himself. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and others operate in pretty much in that same mold.

Maybe some Pacers fans should heckle Hibbert before Game 5, just to make sure he’s ready to go and the Pacers got a win.

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?