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NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Raptors Kyle Lowry Outperformed Cavs Kyrie Irving in Rio

Perhaps this shouldn’t have come as a surprise as the top players at international tournaments are invariably the more experienced veterans, so when Team USA was struggling – and they did struggle in Rio, they went to their 30-year-old veteran point guard Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors to get things back on track.  It’s not that the Cavs 24-year-old Kyrie Irving had a bad tournament, he shot the ball well and was a significant contributor on offense, it was Lowry’s defense that allowed him to outperform his NBA rival as described by Kurt Helin of NBC Sports.

As they had every step of the way to the USA’s gold medal, the bench changed the dynamic of the game when they entered.

Deserving the most credit was the combination of Kyle Lowry at the point and Paul George at the wing — they changed games. Plural. Lowry is a better, more tenacious on-ball defender than Kyrie Irving.

Look at it this way, against Argentina in the quarterfinals the lineup of Lowry, Butler, George, Durant, and DeMarcus Cousins was +20 in 12 minutes, the rest of the team was +7 for the remainder of the game.

the USA doesn’t have gold without Lowry, George and the rest of Team USA’s bench.

Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski had a plan. Irving was paired with defensive center DeAndre Jordan who clogged the paint and intimidated at the rim.  Lowry played a lot with the offensively talented DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings big man had a monster performance in the Gold medal game. In the end, Krzyzewski’s rotations got the job done yet again and Team USA got better the longer the tournament went.

For all the NBA players that didn’t make it to the Olympics in Rio like LeBron James, Team USA was still an All-Star roster and their least utilized player Harrison Barnes just signed at $94.4 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks in July. Team USA won the Gold with their depth – again. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a veteran All-Star was one of the keys to victory.

Gold Medal Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

Team USA DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry

Team USA Men’s Basketball To Be Streamed Live

If you can’t get enough NBA basketball because it’s the summer, no worries, you can get your fill of NBA stars streaming live on Facebook or watch on NBA TV reports Wired.com

Over the next two weeks, the NBA and USA Basketball will be live-streaming a mix of nine men’s and women’s exhibition games.

The games will be streamed on the Facebook pages for USA Basketball and the NBA, and they may show up as promoted posts in your feed, too.

According to the NBA, the games will only be aired live; there won’t be cached versions to watch later. And Facebook’s stream will be simulcast straight from NBA TV

USA basketball starts on Friday, July 22 at 9pm ET with the Team USA Men going up against Argentina in a pre-Olympic exhibition friendly.

 

 

 


 

Raptors Lowry And DeRozan Join Team USA

Team USA has tapped Toronto Raptors All-Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

DeRozan joins a growing list of players that has committed to represent the USA this summer.

NBA Sacramento Kings DeMarcus Cousins

Kings DeMarcus Cousins Has Foot Problems

If you think you have noticed the Sacramento Kings All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins walking funny at times this season you weren’t imagining it. Cousins has foot problems that will need to be dealt with this summer as CSN Bay Area reporter James Ham noticed.

“I have some decisions to make before the end of the season. I’ve got to get some procedures done on my body — on my feet,” Cousins said. “I’ve been playing with tendinitis in my feet all season. That’s why you see me walking up and down funny.”

Ham says Cousins is planning to undergo Platelet Rich Therapy (PRP) on his feet and possibly shockwave treatment as well. The procedure is not considered surgery and takes less than an hour to perform. The recovery for this type of treatment is roughly 4-6 weeks.

Cousins hopes to be ready in time to compete for a roster spot with the USA Men’s National Basketball Team and play at the Olympic Games in Rio this summer.

 

 

 


Canada To Face USA In Pan Am Men’s Basketball Semi-Finals

Team Canada went 3-0 in Men’s Basketball pool play at the Pan Am Games by defeating Mexico 96-76 to advance to the semi-finals against the loser between the USA and Brazil. It may seem like a surprise, but Brazil won 93-83 and Canada will now face the US Men’s National Team at 6 pm ET on Friday.

The US couldn’t contain Brazil’s 25-year-old guard Vitor Benite who went off for 34 points by shooting 8-11 from three-point range and once again they find themselves fighting from behind for a shot at Pan Am gold while mired in a 32-year drought.

This isn’t the “A” list from the USA at Pan Am. In fact, NBA players are few and far between on every team at this tournament as the Olympic Qualifier will be held later this summer in Mexico. The teams here are mostly represented by FIBA professionals, college players and Canada even has a recent high school graduate in guard Jamal Murray.

The lack of NBA talent hasn’t meant the Games aren’t well played and hotly contested. Every team is trying to win and players are trying to secure one of the limited spots available with their National Teams at the tournament in Mexico.

Heavy.com sums up Team USA’s chances as:

If the United States is going to end a 32-year gold-medal drought at the Pan American Games, it’s going to be a bunch of college kids and veterans who are going to do it.

There will be veterans playing key roles in Toronto. Ryan Hollins, who is the only active NBA player on the roster, Anthony Randolph, who is still only 26 and at 7’0″ has always boasted an intriguing blend of size and athleticism, and former NBA player Damien Wilkins come to mind. Still, the youth is the most intriguing part of this team.

That’s especially true in the backcourt, which features Melo Trimble, Ron Baker and Malcolm Brogdon, three of the best collegiate guards in the country.

Heavy.com provides detailed bios on the Team USA roster for Pan Am.

Similarly, Canada is relying on a group of National Team veterans and youth. The Canadian stars and future stars from the NBA like Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk, Dwight Powell, Tyler Ennis, Nik Stauskas and others are mostly expected to be available for Mexico.

Canada’s best players at Pan Am have been NBA players Anthony Bennett and Andrew Nicholson, undrafted three-point shooter Brady Heslip, and high school guard Jamal Murray.

Team Canada veterans Aaron Doornekamp, Carl English and Heslip have provided head coach Jay Triano with a noticeable stabilizing force so far in this tournament. They’ve been in these situations before.

While the USA hasn’t tasted Pan Am gold in over 30 years, Canada has never medaled at this event and are hoping to break that streak as the host Country.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Says World Cup Helped Him

The Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan did not have a big role on the FIBA World Cup Gold medal winning Team USA, however, he says his experience will help him grow as a player according to Emmet Ryan of Ball in Europe.

“It felt great,” DeRozan said. “Especially to play at this level with these great players that you can learn so much from and just to take this same energy and the same experience back. It can’t do nothing but help you.”

VIDEO: DeRozan says World Cup win will help him as a Raptor

 

 

 
 

Kyrie Irving

No Contest, USA Wins FIBA World Cup Gold, Kyrie Irving MVP

Serbia was not expected to be in the Gold Medal game against the United States and after a high energy start that saw the underdogs go up 15-7 early in the first quarter, the game became a shooting and rebounding display by the USA and turned into a blowout early in the second quarter.

  It quickly became obvious Serbia was just happy to be here once the game turned. They had already “won” this tournament by going home with the Silver. USA cruised to a 129-92 victory and never trailed after DeMarcus Cousins tied the game at 15-all on a pair of made free throws with 4:51 left in the first quarter.  

 

USA vs. Serbia boxscore

Kyrie Irving shot 6-6 from three-point range and led all scorers with 26 points. He was named the tournament MVP. Team USA captain James Harden scored 23 points and Cousins helped swing the momentum in his team’s favor after Anthony Davis picked up two quick fouls. Cousins finished with 11 points and 9 boards.

“DeMarcus Cousins had about five plays right in the middle of the first half that really turned positive – 8 points, 10 points – for us and then our whole team gelled,” USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski said during the post game press conference.

“This is by far the biggest accomplishment of my life so far,” Irving said. “This feels amazing. This is one of the greatest feelings that I’ve ever felt.”

22-year-old forward Nikola Kalinic led Serbia with 18 points on 8-9 shooting from the field.

The well-deserving tournament All-Star Five were Kenneth Faried, Pau Gasol, Nicolas Batum, Kyrie Irving and Milos Teodosic.


USA – Serbia post game press conference

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

NBA Sacramento Kings Rudy Gay

Kings Rudy Gay Got A Fractured Jaw Vs. Lithuania

The Sacramento Kings Rudy Gay will be sidelined for Team USA’s Gold Medal game versus Serbia after receiving a fractured jaw in Thursday’s semifinal game against Lithuania according to USA TODAY Sport Sam Amick.
 

“I’ve got a fracture in my jaw, a broken tooth and am going to probably need a root canal,” Gay told USA TODAY Sports. “The top is where I got hit. It’s painful. It’s uncomfortable, and it still bleeds, so I’ve got to continuously gargle. It is what it is, man.”

 

Gay was hit in the mouth by one of the Lavrinovic twin brothers who have played a very physical FIBA brand of basketball for a long time.

“I don’t even remember,” Gay said. “I couldn’t tell them apart.”

The incident happened in the third quarter and was the likely cause of the typical basketball ‘scuffle’ between the two teams broken up by USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“I just wanted to get in the middle and I figured they wouldn’t hit an old man,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m Polish, I knew the Lithuanians were friends. I could be somebody who – those two things – Polish and being old, I figure that’s a good separator.”

 

 

 

Note: Sportando reports Gay will play against Serbia in the Gold Medal game, but it seems unnecessary and very unlikely his club team would support such a decision.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

Display photo credit Paul Saini, Fylmm.com

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeRozan Says USA Won’t Take Teams Lightly

The Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan and virtually everyone on Team USA knows they can’t take other teams lightly if they want to win Gold at the FIBA World Cup in Spain.

“I am not surprised about anything in international competition,” USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “All these teams are good. That is why we haven’t mentioned anybody that we might play because we don’t know if we might play. We can lose. If we feel we can lose, then anybody else can lose because there are so many good teams.”

Emmet Ryan of Ball in Europe talked to DeRozan after Team USA’s win over Lithuania that put Team USA in the Gold medal game on Sunday.

“We understand that there are still a lot of things at stake,” DeRozan said. “We can’t take nobody lightly.”

DeMar DeRozan “We can’t take nobody lightly”

 

The lesson of Spain’s elimination by France is not lost on the American team.

 

Team USA knocked off Lithuania 96-68 on Thursday to advance and with so many players who know each other well as in the case of DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas who are from the same club team, but representing different countries, there is a significant amount of goodwill at these international competitions.

 

 

On Sunday, the USA goes for Gold against winner of the semifinal game on Friday between Serbia and France.

Lithuania plays in the Bronze Medal game on Saturday.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

USA Advances To Gold Medal Game At FIBA World Cup

For three of the four quarters Lithuania managed to hang with Team USA, but a third quarter scoring explosion by the Americans proved to be too much for the Lithuanians to handle and the US won by a wide margin.  The 96-68 score wasn’t indicative of how hard Team USA had to fight.

As expected, Lithuania played a tough physical game, however, it was the Americans that got into the early foul trouble and both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins fouled out. Kenneth Faried, who has been tearing up defenses all tournament, was held to just 9 points and 6 rebounds.

At half, USA was fortunate to be leading 43-35, primarily on the strong play of Klay Thompson’s 6-11 shooting for 14 points. Lithuania’s small forward Mandaugas Kuzminskas was able to take advantage of James Harden and the US smaller lineup for 12 points and 7 boards in the first half.

“Klay’s play in the first half was the biggest reason we were ahead at half time,” USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski said during the post game press conference.

The USA opened the second half at a new pace and started converting opportunities into points. Kyrie Irving turned it up a notch and Harden got mad, finally taking advantage of his mismatch at the offensive end. The third quarter quickly turned into a 33-14 blowout for a plus 20 point lead that the US never gave back.

“Kyrie was special in this game,” Krzyzewski said. “In the third quarter, he got us moving.”

Irving led all scorers with 18 points on 8-15 shooting. Thompson and Harden finished with 16 points each.

Kuzminskas was held to just 3 second half points to finish with 15 points and 9 rebounds.

Without their starting point guard Mantas Kalnietis, Lithuania has turnover problems and the US was able to take advantage of the 21 Lithuanian turnovers to score 24 points. Adas Juskevicius stepped in to play big minutes at the point against the Americans and scored 12 points despite going 1-8 from the field as he was a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line.

Inside, Jonas Valanciunas contributed 15 points on 11-13 free throws and 7 boards and was the primary reason why the American big men were in foul trouble.

 

USA v Lithuania – Post Game Press Conference – FIBA 2014 Basketball World Cup

 

USA vs. Lithuania Boxscore

 

Lithuania moves on to the Bronze Medal game against the loser of the other semifinal between Serbia and France on Saturday.

The USA goes for Gold against the other semifinal winner on Sunday.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 
 

Is Bulls Derrick Rose On Team USA For The Wrong Reasons?

All the kind and positive words from Team USA assistant coach and Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau, USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and managing director Jerry Colangelo can’t hide the fact the Bulls star point guard Derrick Rose is having a terrible FIBA World Cup in Spain and just maybe these basketball gurus knew it was going to happen.

After six games Rose is shooting 21.6 percent from the field and 9.1 percent from three point range and those statistics are worse than they seem. As a team, USA is shooting 52.7 percent from the field and everyone is looking to feed Rose wide open jump shots and easy straight line opportunities for layups and dunks – it’s not working.

USA Today Sports says Rose told reporters:

“I’m loving the way that I’m playing,” Rose told reporters. “Of course missing shots, that’s part of the game. But just conditioning-wise and how I’ve been playing defense and low turnovers the last couple of games, I’m loving it. I feel like me picking up fullcourt, really getting into people, running the team (helps) me knock this rust off along the way for the regular season. I’ve exceeded my expectations. I’m not sore. My knees are good. I know a lot of people are concerned about that, but I think I’m playing well.”

Rose’s defense with both feet planted on the floor has been good. He does move well without the ball and looks like he is playing without pain, but his skills fail him time-and-time-again at the offensive end of the court and the Chicago Bulls weren’t looking to add a star defensive point guard to next season’s roster, they need scoring.

What should be raising eyebrows are the comments from the guys who decided to keep Rose on the Team USA roster over other healthy players that were available.

“The thought is that if he were to have a game where he had some real success, then that would get him over the hump,” Colangelo said. “Not just for us, but for him in terms of the upcoming season.

Well he hasn’t played in a long time,” Thibodeau said. “I think that was to be expected. I think the more he plays, the more his timing will come around. Right now he has missed some layups that are usually automatic. That will come.”

If you take these comments at face value, then why is Rose on Team USA? The FIBA World Cup isn’t supposed to be an opportunity for Rose to shake off the rust before the Bulls season starts. They are supposed to be in Spain to win a Gold Medal and when they play Spain (and they will play Spain) the USA can’t afford to be a man short so the Bulls point guard can get some playing time ahead of the upcoming NBA season against weaker teams.

Everyone wants Rose to make a comeback. He’s young and far too many NBA players have seen promising careers cut back or down because of knee injuries. One only has to think of Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis, Penny Hardaway, Michael Redd or any number of other NBA stars that never got back to their old form. However, while watching Rose try to regain his old offensive rhythm in Spain, one has to wonder why he is doing it on this stage?

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

NBA Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson

Splash Brothers Curry And Thompson Lead USA to Win Over Mexico

It wasn’t the usual diet of Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried that carried Team USA past Mexico as the Golden State Warriors Splash Brothers Stephen Curry  and Klay Thompson filled the nets from long range to secure the 86-63 win.

The US thwarted everyone on Mexico from scoring except the Hawks free agent big man Gustavo Ayon.  Ayon led all scorers in this game with 25 points on 11-19 shooting to go with 8 boards, 2 steals and a block, but Mexico only scored 38 points through three-quarters and never had a chance in this contest.

Curry, on the other hand, had his first big game of the tournament going 6-9 from deep for 20 points and his Golden State teammate Thompson scored 15 points on 3-9 three-point attempts.  The USA knew they would need the scoring and the chemistry from this pairing as the paint often gets a lot more congested against the better teams at this world championship tournament.  Overall, team USA shot 13-29 from the three-point line against Mexico to secure this victory.

Team USA advances to face the winner of Slovenia vs. Dominican Republic in a quarter-final match on Tuesday.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

NBA Studs And Duds At The 2014 FIBA World Cup

Group play has ended at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain and most of the easy games are in the rearview mirror. If an NBA player didn’t pad his stats during this stage of the contest, it is only going to get harder from here on out.

Five games is a decent enough sample size to see who’s got it on the international stage and the studs and duds of these championships are becoming obvious. No one should be arguing about what Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried and Pau Gasol have accomplished so far.

Spain 5-0

Stud – Bulls newest star Pau Gasol has been dominate on demand averaging 21.2 points on 61.9 percent shooting to go with 5.6 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Dud – Almost invisible, Knicks new point guard Jose Calderon is shooting 30 percent from the field to average 3.6 points and dish less than an assist per game.

USA 5-0

Stud – Pelicans Anthony Davis leads the US with 15.8 points on a tournament second best 62.7 percent shooting and has 6.4 rebounds, 1 steal and 1.8 blocks.

Stud – Nuggets Kenneth Faried leads the tournament with 79.1 percent shooting from the field to average 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds

Dud – It seems like everyone on Team USA is trying to get the Bulls point guard Derrick Rose going offensively by feeding him open shots and easy routes to the basket, but it isn’t working. On a team averaging 54 percent from the field, Rose is shooting 25 percent and has missed 90 percent of his three-point attempts.

Slovenia 4-1

Stud – Suns point guard Goran Dragic does it all for Slovenia. He has shot 60.7 percent from the field and is averaging 17.4 points and 4 assists.

Brazil 4-1

This team shares the wealth, however.

Dud – Wizards Nene has disappointed with 6.8 points on 44 percent from the field and 4.2 rebounds in 18.4 minutes. Brazil needs a lot more from Nene in the elimination rounds.

Argentina 3-2

Stud – The long time FIBA star and reliable Pacers veteran Luis Scola has averaged a tournament second best 21.6 points, 52 percent shooting and 8.8 rebounds.

Australia 3-2

Stud – Spurs free agent Aron Baynes has averaged 17.2 points and 7 boards. What’s holding the Spurs back from re-signing this kid?

Duds – Jazz rookie Dante Exum has 3.2 points in 13 minutes on 35.7 percent shooting and Cavaliers Matthew Dellavedova has 6.4 points in 21.2 minutes on 35.7 percent shooting and that’s not helping the cause.

Croatia 3-2

Stud – Nets Bojan Bogdanovic has averaged 20 points and 3.8 rebounds.

Dominican Republic 2-3

Stud – Rockets veteran Francisco Garcia has put up 20.2 points on 61.2 percent shooting from the field.

Senegal 2-3

Stud – Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng has three double-doubles in five games and has put up an impressive 18 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2 steals and 1.8 blocks.

Iran 1-4

Stud – Suns 7’2 free agent center Hamed Haddadi has averaged 18.8 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks and has three double-doubles. Someone in the NBA must need a big backup center?

Philippines 1-4

Stud – Nets free agent forward Andray Blatche had five double-doubles in five games averaging a tournament third best 21.2 points, a tournament best 13.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals. His field goal percentage was reduced to 44.2 because he took 4.4 three-point shots per game but made only 1.2 of them. Blatche was auditioning for a contract. Who wants him?

Puerto Rico 1-4

Stud – Proving you just can’t keep a good little man down, the Timberwolves J.J. Barea leads the tournament in scoring with 22 points per game.

This isn’t an easy tournament to put up impressive numbers in. Through the group stage teams play five games in six days and even the main guys on each team usually only average a little more than 20 minutes per game. It can be especially tough on NBA players that haven’t played internationally before. The rules are different and they often don’t know anything about the player opposite them. No excuses though, these games are played for National pride and everyone participating is expected to bring their “A” game.

The Win or Go home portion of the tournament starts on Saturday.

Check out all of the leading scorers at the FIBA World Cup here.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

FIBA World Cup Studs From Day 5 J.J. Barea And Andray Blatche

As Team USA and Spain rolled to their fourth consecutive wins, Wednesday’s biggest studs were found in a battle between Puerto Rico and the Philippines as J.J. Barea and Andray Blatche fought to keep their team’s slim hopes of advancing beyond group play alive for another day.

Team USA found themselves in garbage time early, so Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski spread the minutes around during the 35 point blowout win over the Dominican Republic. Spain’s three-headed monster of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka were far too much for France to deal with, but they shared the wealth and no one stood out on the stats sheet in the 88-64 win even if all of France’s big men looked overmatched.

Puerto Rico defeated the Philippines 77-73 on hot hand of the Timberwolves Barea who went on a personal 10-3 run that put his team up by five points late in the fourth quarter. Barea’s 30 point game was tops among all players on Day 5. As has been the case throughout group play, the Nets free agent power forward Blatche led the Philippines with his fourth consecutive double-double as the big man scored 25 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked 2 shots and had a steal, however, as usual, it wasn’t enough and the Philippines fell to 0-4 and out of contention for the next round.

The Suns free agent Hamed Haddadi is looking for a contract and he has been showing his value at the World Cup. On Wednesday he led Iran past Egypt 88-73 with a 23 point 15 rebound 1 steal 2 block effort that kept his team’s very slim hopes of advancing to the next round alive. It was Haddadi’s second double-double and second plus 20 point game as he has averaged 18 points and 10.5 rebounds on a team that doesn’t offer him much support.

The Pelicans new center Omer Asik put up 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and a block to help propel Turkey past Finland 77-73.

Pacers veteran forward Luis Scola led Argentina in scoring for the fourth consecutive time with 21 points and 14 rebounds in a 81-46 dismantling of upstart Senegal who had just won two games in a row for the first time ever at this tournament.

The Spurs free agent Aron Baynes keeps showing flashes of why this young big man should be able to land an NBA contract again this season as he led Australia past Mexico 70-62 with a game-high 21 points to go with 5 boards and 3 blocked shots.

Other Notables:

Angola’s Roberto Forte 21 points
Brazil’s Marquinhos Vieira 21 points
Croatia’s Bojan Bogdanovic (Nets) 20 points
Lithuania’s Adas Juskevicius 20 points

Check out all of the leading scorers at the FIBA World Cup here.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Bulls Get Good News Pau Gasol Bad News Derrick Rose

The preliminary round of the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain is three-fifths done and the Chicago Bulls have received some good news and some bad news about their best players heading into the upcoming NBA season. Pau Gasol has been great and leads the tournament in scoring, but Derrick Rose has struggled mightily on offense.

Gasol has been nothing short of dominant for Spain shooting 65.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range and looking a lot like the four-time All-Star that’s won two NBA Championships. Averaging 23.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists 2.3 blocks and 26 minutes, the only thing holding Gasol back from better numbers is Spain hasn’t needed anything more from him. As of now, the Bulls have to be very excited about their big upgrade at power forward.

Rose, on the other hand, hasn’t looked anything like the pre-injury All-Star of a couple of seasons ago. Team USA assistant coach and Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau is waiting and hoping for a breakout game from his point guard, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Going back to the 10 NBA games Rose played last season there were strong signals that finding his old offensive rhythm wasn’t going to be easy as Rose shot 35.4 percent from the field and 34 percent from three-point range. Coming into Team USA training camp Rose looked good physically and his mobility generated a lot of excitement, however, his former offensive prowess was still missing and he hasn’t found it yet.

Ross played in three of the four exhibition games before the World Cup and in just over 19 minutes per game he averaged 5.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2 turnovers while shooting 36.4 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from deep. There were concerns about his knees or maybe it was just game conditioning, but he wasn’t the best point guard on Team USA before Spain and seemed to get the spot on the team because Thibodeau wanted him to have it.

The first three games in the FIBA World Cup group play only confirmed what the friendlies beforehand were showing, Rose still struggles with his offense. The 5.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.3 turnovers and 19 minutes are eerily similar to his exhibition games. The 22.2 percent shooting from the field and 14.3 percent from three-point range are worse. If one ignores Rose’s 3-8 performance during Finland’s collapse, he has shot 1-10 from the field and 0-5 from three in his last two games.

The good news for Rose is he still moves well on the court and there doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him. He just doesn’t have anything going on offense. Fortunately in the group stage and probably right through until the semi-finals, Team USA isn’t likely to win a game by less than 20 points even if Rose and several other players don’t have their best games. Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Thibodeau can keep throwing Rose out there in the hope he’ll find his offensive rhythm before they have to play Spain.

It appears the Team USA coaching staff can see something with Rose that hasn’t become obvious on the court just yet.

Thibodeau’s Chicago Bulls have a lot riding on Gasol and Rose. If both players can find their former All-Star form, Chicago will contend to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. The bad news is if Rose continues to struggle offensively those expectations will have to be severely tempered.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_inside
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

FIBA World Cup Studs From Day 4 Omer Asik And Anthony Davis

Tuesday’s action at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain continues to provide a platform for NBA and international players to strut their stuff and a pair of Pelicans stood out. Omer Asik had a massive game but failed to propel Turkey to the win. Anthony Davis had another big outing for the unbeaten USA.

Mexico 79-55 over Angola

Mexico:
Hector Hernandez, Cancun 24 points
Hawks free agent Gustavo Ayon 17 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks

Ukraine 64-58 over Turkey

Ukraine:
Olexandra Mishula, DC Dnipro 19 points

Turkey:
Pelicans Omer Asik 16 points, 20 rebounds

USA 98-71 over New Zealand

USA:
Pelicans Anthony Davis 21 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block
Nuggets Kenneth Faried 15 points, 11 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block

Australia 82-75 over Lithuania

Australia:
Joe Ingles, Maccabi Tel Aviv 18 points

Lithuania:
Renaldas Seibutis, Darussafaka 21 points

Slovenia 89-72 over Korea

Slovenia:
Suns Goran Dragic 22 points

Dominican Republic 74-68 over Finland

Dominican:
Eloy Vargas, Fuenlabrada 18 points, 13 rebounds, 1 steal and 4 blocks

Finland:
Petteri Koponen, Khimki 23 points, 3 rebounds, 9 assists

The big disappointments of the day:

No Show By Jonas Valanciunas Costs Lithuania Vs. Australia

Raptors Jonas Valanciunas 4 points, 6 rebounds, 5 turnovers
Rockets Donatas Motiejunas 2 points, 1 rebound, 2 turnovers

After three games, the top three scorers in the tournament are Pau Gasol (23.7), Luis Scola (23) and Gorgui Dieng (22). Anthony Davis leads the USA averaging 19 points and tied for 8th place overall.

Check out all of the leading scorers at the FIBA World Cup here.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

FIBA World Cup Studs From Day 2 Faried And Ibaka

Both Spain and the USA have begun to open a wide lead over the field as they have won their first 2 games by big margins and the Nuggets Kenneth Faried and Thunder Serge Ibaka were the studs that led those teams to FIBA World Cup victories on Sunday.

The 2-0 unbeaten teams are as follows:

USA           +80 points
Spain        +67 points
Greece      +35 points
Brazil        +31 points
Slovenia   +31 points
Lithuania +26 points
Croatia     +8 points

Team USA was saved by Kenneth Faried vs. Turkey as his energy and 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots turned the tide in the 98-77 come from behind win.

Spain crushed Egypt 91-54 as everyone on the roster except the 0-4 Jose Calderon scored, but it Serge Ibaka’s turn for a big game as he put up a game-high 18 points and 8 rebounds.

The high score of the day belonged to Luis Scola who once again led Argentina, his 30 points gives him a 25 point average and is tops among all players. However, Argentina lost to Croatia 90-85 as the 76ers first round draft pick Dario Saric had 16 points and 9 rebounds while the Nets Bojan Bogdanovic had 16 points and 7 rebounds.

Houston Rockets veteran Francisco Garcia put up 29 points for the Dominican Republic in a big 76-63 win over the New Zealand Tall Blacks. Thomas Abercrombie who plays for the NZ Breakers had 22 points.

Georgios Printezis had 25 points and 8 rebounds in Greece’s 82-70 win over the Philippines. Printezis turned down an offer to play for the Knicks in 2012 and his NBA rights have been held by the Spurs, Raptors, Mavericks, Knicks, Trail Blazers, Thunder and presently by the Hawks. The Nets free agent Andray Blatche recorded his second double-double in 2 days with 21 points on 6-18 shooting and 14 rebounds for the Philippines. Blatche is currently second in scoring at 24.5 points per game and second in rebounds at 13 per game.

Eugene “Pooh” Jeter scored 24 points for the Ukraine in an 81-76 loss to Finland. Jeter, a one-time King, played in Spain last season and has signed with the Shandong Bulls in China. Shawn Huff, who plays in Germany, scored 23 points for Finland.

Atlanta Hawks unrestricted free agent Gustavo Ayon scored 23 points for Mexico in an 89-68 loss to Slovenia where the Suns Goran Dragic had 18 points and 6 assists and his very noticeable brother Zoran Dragic scored 22 points.

Notes:

The Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng is averaging 19.5 points and a tournament best 13.5 rebounds for Senegal.

Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas finally missed a shot in the second quarter of his second game and had 11 points and 13 rebounds in Lithuania’s 75-62 win over Angola to become just one of ten players to record a double-double thus far.

Check out all of the leading scorers at the FIBA World Cup here.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Team USA Was Saved By Kenneth Faried Vs. Turkey

In a game that didn’t go according to script, Team USA was held to 35 first half points and trailed by 5 points heading into the break vs. Turkey.  Without the energy from the Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, this game might not have turned around midway through the third quarter to end in a 98-77 USA victory.

Faried dominated play at both ends of the court with hustle on route to a game-high 22 points on 11-14 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots and was cheered for his efforts both times he came off the court in the second half by an appreciative crowd.

Anthony Davis also got things going using his impressive reach and athleticism to grab rebounds and finish some improbable plays around the rim.  Davis contributed 19 points on 8-11 from the field, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.

Team USA looked out-of-sorts through two-and-a-half quarters as Turkey showed no fear inside and was out-working the US for loose balls and on the boards. Turkey won the rebounding battle 34-32.  They also started out hot from range and ended up hitting 9-24 three-point attempts.

With Stephen Curry (3-11), Klay Thompson (2-7) and Derrick Rose (0-4) having off shooting days in the face of some very physical defense, it took a while for Team USA to adjust, but once they got back on track offensively, their was little Turkey could do to stop the 63 point second half onslaught and more often than not it was the US failing to finish than anything their opponent was able to do.

This rough start was probably just what USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski needed to wake up a team that had yet to be challenged up until this point.  The other teams are here to win and Krzyzewski knows from experience that if his players don’t come ready they could leave disappointed.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

FIBA World Cup Studs From Aug 30 Pau Gasol And Valanciunas

The 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain kicked off on Saturday August 30 and the NBA was well represented. Almost every team in contention has multiple NBA players if not All-Stars or future stars in addition to some of the best overseas talent. However, the studs were not limited to the NBA and neither were the duds on the first day of action.

The Raptors young center Jonas Valanciunas was hit with two early personal fouls and Lithuania had to overcome a rough start, but Valanciunas shot a perfect 8-8 from the field for 17 points as Lithuania blew out Mexico 87-74 with stifling defense in the second and third quarters.

The Bulls newest All-Star Pau Gasol led all-scorers on day-one with 33 points on 12-20 shooting, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocked shots as Spain dismantled Iran 90-60. Hamed Haddadi had 16 points and 15 boards in a losing effort.

A pair of scoring studs did their best to give the game away when Croatia overcame the Philippines 81-78. The Nets free agent Andray Blatche filled up the boxscore as a ringer with the Philippines netting 28 points and grabbing 12 boards, but he did on 10-24 from the field and turned the ball over 7 times. New Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic shot better scoring 26 points on 9-18 shooting, but he turned the ball over 6 times. Someone had to win.

The Timberwolves Jose Juan Barea scored 24 points for Puerto Rico in a 98-75 losing cause against powerful Argentina as the FIBA veteran and current Pacers power forward Luis Scola had 20 points and 9 boards.

Suns starting point guard Goran Dragic had 21 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists to lead Slovenia past Australia 90-80. Spurs free agent Aron Baynes had 21 points and 7 boards for the Aussies. Jazz rookie Dante Exum was a disappointing 0-2 from the field for 0 points and 2 rebounds.

Other studs from Day One include:

New Zealand: Cory Webster 22 points
Mexico: Francisco Cruz 21 points
Senegal: Timberwolves Gorgui Dieng 21 points, 14 rebounds

As expected, the USA ran roughshod over Finland 114-55, but only two US players went over 20 minutes in the game. Warriors Klay Thompson led the US in scoring with 18 points. Pelicans Anthony Davis had 17 points in 14.3 minutes.

Check out all of the leading scorers at the FIBA World Cup here.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

DeMar DeRozan Makes The Cut For Team USA

USA Basketball National Team Managing Director Jerry Colangelo announced Friday night the 12 players who will represent the United States at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. They are:

DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)
Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings)
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets)
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)

Kyle Korver, Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward and Damian Lillard will not be joining their National teammates in Spain.

The only slight surprise was Colangelo decided to keep all three young centers, Cousins, Plumlee and Drummond and let the stretch four Parsons go, but this was really a decision about which 11th and 12th man to bring along rather than deciding about rotation players.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.