Lost in Paul George story, Derrick Rose looked good in USA Basketball exhibition

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With good reason, Paul George and his horrific injury were the focus after Friday night’s USA basketball exhibition in Las Vegas. That story will reverberate through the NBA for years.

But if Paul George had not been the story, Derrick Rose would have been.

[RELATED: Will Paul George’s injury change USA roster for 2016?]

We had told you that this week Rose was getting rave reviews out of Team USA practices.

“Derrick’s played great, not good, and hasn’t held anything back,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

“He’s playing well,” fellow Chicagoan Anthony Davis added. “He’s playing out of his mind. He’s being Derrick Rose.”

Friday night he showed everyone, with quickness and explosion that looked like his old self. He blew by some of the world’s elite players like they were standing still. He was quick end-to-end and showed some nice passing skills as well. He looked like the guy who was the league’s youngest MVP.

[RELATED: Derrick Rose explodes past defense for two-handed slam at hoops showcase (VIDEO)]

All week Rose talked about the maturity of his game now, for example he developed a floater so he wouldn’t have to take the contact going to the rim all the time (after a couple practices he stayed on the court to work on just that shot). He knows he’s got some real talent around him and he doesn’t have to carry the scoring load the same way.

“I’m able to control my body a little bit more, using my speed more, being smart with my speed rather than just running wild out there,” Rose said of his game. “I’’ve become a smarter player, but I’m mad it took me seven years to learn it.”

There was still a little rust on Rose, as is to be expected. But that’s the reason he should be with Team USA this summer, to shake that off and get his confidence back now.

Here’s the key thing, before George went down we were all thinking the same thing: If that Derrick Rose can play 75+ games next season, even if the Cavaliers get Kevin Love to pair with LeBron James and Kyrie they are going to have some serious competition to get out of the East.

[RELATED: Rose says Bulls are more talented than at any point in his career]

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?