USA Basketball announces 12 man roster for World Cup; Parsons, Hayward, Lillard, Korver cut

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The roster is set and Mike Krzyzewski decided to go with three big men.

In the late hours after Team USA dismantled Puerto Rico at Madison Square Garden, USA Basketball announced the 12 man roster headed to Spain for the World Cup. That team is:

Guards: Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Klay Thompson.

Forwards/centers: DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, Mason Plumlee.

That means the last set of roster cuts were Gordon Hayward, Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver and Damian Lillard. (Bradley Beal and John Wall had been cut previously.)

Coach K went with all four centers men making the team — Davis Cousins, Plumlee and Drummond — a sign that the team is still looking ahead to a potential match-up with Spain in the gold medal game. While Davis will start at center and get the most run the four big men is a sign the team is looking ahead to a potential gold medal game against the host Spaniards, where Team USA will need the size (Spain rolls out Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka).

Team USA will still be a guard-driven team — they will pressure and run and count on nobody being able to slow them much.

Leaving Korver and Lillard home hurts the outside, shooting, but with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, James Harden and the rest the USA will have no problem scoring from beyond the arc (which is closer in international ball than the NBA).

Team USA is still a gold medal favorite. They are in a soft group and after that the easy side of the single elimination bracket if they win the group. The likely toughest team they face is Lithuania (ranked fourth in the world) — Spain, France, Argentina, Greece are all on the other side of the bracket. But beating Spain in Spain will be a real test.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

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.