Callie Caplan: Luka’s opening statement after Slovenia’s semifinal loss to France: “We might have surprised a lot of people … but we’re not giving up yet.” He’s got ice wrapped around his left wrist after crashing into the courtside plexiglass, but said it’s just precautionary.
Ben Golliver: Slovenia’s Luka Doncic, who received a technical foul and appealed to multiple referees at the buzzer, on whether the officiating impacted last-second loss to France in Olympic semifinals: “No. That’s not a question you ask me.”
FIBA | #Basketball #Tokyo2020: 🗣️ "Nicolas is a class act. He told me he hates playing against me, but in a good way. That was nice of him, he's just a class act." - @luka7doncic 🇸🇮 #Tokyo2020 | #Basketball
The Vertical: Nic Batum's BIG-TIME block to seal France's win 😱 (via @NBCOlympics) pic.twitter.com/PJfOVCX6wt
Jorge Sierra: Luka Doncic loses for the first time with Slovenia in the cruelest manner. A Batum block sends France to the Olympic final. What an epic game.
StatMuse: France hands Luka Doncic his first career loss in international competition. Now 17-1. pic.twitter.com/Uxw1KlQmDz
StatMuse: Luka injured his wrist vs France. He finished with: 16 PTS 10 REB 18 AST It’s the first Olympic triple-double since LeBron James in 2012. pic.twitter.com/kMviBOUICz
Ben Golliver: Gregg Popovich on USA's sacrifices at Tokyo Olympics: "Khris Middleton’s wife gave birth & he came the next day, after the Finals. Those were pretty big sacrifices. More for his wife than for him, now that I think about it. Take the credit away from him & give it to his wife."
Ben Golliver: Australia coach Brian Goorjian after loss to USA in Olympic semifinals: "I've been to three Olympics now, and they're as good as as any Team USA team I've played against. They're right there."
Ben Golliver: Australia coach Brian Goorjian after loss to USA in semifinals & the bronze medal game: "The message is loud & clear: back straight, head back, walk out of here proud. ... We've got something right now in front of us that has never happened in this country & let's get excited."
Ben Golliver: USA's Gregg Popovich on whether he wants to face France or Slovenia for gold: "You really think I'm going to answer that question? How long have you been a reporter? You must be talking to some dumb coaches. I wouldn't touch that with a 10-foot pole. You've got to be kidding."
Rob Schaefer: Final: USA 97, AUS 78 Americans impressively flip 15-point deficit to 19-point victory to earn spot in gold medal game. Zach LaVine played 17 minutes, notched 9 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl. Another good defensive showing with some loud second-half highlights.
This situation never happens — never does the start of free agency coincide with the Olympics. To make it even stranger, Japan is 13 hours ahead of the American East Coast. So when free agency began at 6 p.m. Monday in the States, it was 7 a.m. Tuesday in Japan. Teams cannot talk to players before then, but preliminary discussions with player agents dominate the hours (and days) leading up to the official start of free agency. “This morning I woke up at 3:30, I called my agent, like, ‘You gotta get a deal done right now so I can move on from it,’” Batum said.
As for Batum, 32, he always wanted to rejoin the Clippers, because he said they gave him a fresh start on his career last season. “Of course, the last 48 hours, it’s in your head,” Batum said. “Just this morning for one or two hours (I was on the phone) with my agent, ‘Get a deal done. … OK, we’re good?’ Now I am back to the Olympics. That was a crazy day, for sure.”
Keith Smith: Team USA will play Australia in the Olympics Semifinals. Thursday 8/5 at 12:15 AM ET. Gonna be another late night!
Tim Reynolds: Luis Scola says he didn’t intend to announce his retirement from international basketball today. But he very, very strongly hinted that tonight was the end of the road.
Ben Golliver: Argentina, Australia and a few hundred spectators salute Luis Scola with a standing ovation as he checks out of Olympic quarterfinal. Scola just completed his fifth Olympics at age 41. pic.twitter.com/nxoQgpV0zF
The Americans’ path to a fourth consecutive gold was going to be arduous at best and, more likely, treacherous, which bore out in an Olympics-opening loss to France. And it was there when Team USA fell down by 10 in the second quarter of an elimination game Tuesday to Spain, an aging team that is nevertheless the defending World Cup champions. “We started to panic a little bit,” Draymond Green admitted.
By now, the explanations and excuses are worn. New team. Short training camp. Three players at the NBA Finals. Greater continuity for other countries. COVID-19 took Bradley Beal off the roster. Injuries kept other stars out. The Americans are two wins from overcoming all of it. “As we started to practice a bit more, and going through those losses, we started to understand our roles a bit more and coach started to understand the rotation,” Durant said. “I think you mix all of that in the pot, you start to build a real team. That’s what I feel like we are at this point.”
Ben Golliver: France’s Nicolas Batum on whether Clippers/Mavericks playoff series can help in Olympic semifinals versus Luka Doncic & Slovenia: “We can’t bring Kawhi [Leonard] to the next game. It’s going to be different. This is a different team.”
Gary Washburn: Gobert finishes with a 360 dunk. Don't know if I've ever seen him do that in the NBA. FRA 84, ITA 75 Final. Faces Slovenia on Thursday. #Tokyo2020
Pau, 41, confirmed his retirement on COPE, stating that he will now reflect and assess his future, while he has not decided about retirement yet. He spent the previous season with FC Barcelona. During his time with the senior Spanish NT, he has won 11 medals in three different international competitions, including gold in the 2006 FIBA World Cup and gold at the 2009, 2011 and 2015 EuroBasket.
Ben Golliver: USA’s Kevin Durant after advancing to semifinals of Tokyo Olympics with win over Spain: “We’ve got to finish it. We’re supposed to be here. For us, it’s about getting the gold.”
Kristian Winfield: Kevin Durant said Jayson Tatum could one day break his Olympic scoring record. Tatum: “I’ve got a long way to go… but imma try.”
Casey Holdahl: USA 95, Spain 81: FINAL. 11 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds for @Damian Lillard. USA now moves on to play the winner of Australia vs. Argentina in a semifinal game that will air at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Best scoring marks against Team USA at the Olympic Games: Manu Ginobili: 29 points Pau Gasol: 29 points Patrick Mills: 30 points Oscar Schmidt: 31 points Butch Lee: 35 points RICKY RUBIO: 38 points
StatMuse: Ricky Rubio vs USA: 38 PTS 13-20 FG 4-7 3P 8-8 FT He scored 38 of Spain’s 81 points (47%). pic.twitter.com/mhOeJbdiz9
Luka Doncic: Top 4 in the world, a country of 2M people! What a feeling! 🇸🇮🇸🇮🇸🇮❤️❤️❤️ #mislovenci pic.twitter.com/bK0woXuDRT
Gasol, a European and NBA legend, said Spain has a unique opportunity to defeat the Americans and reach the semi-finals. “We have to compete for each possession and believe in ourselves, play smart, limit mistakes. It is a unique opportunity to beat them, to do something very special we have never achieved in the Olympic Games,” Pau Gasol said, via Mundo Deportivo.
Holiday has been arguably the Americans’ top all-around player at the Olympics, averaging 12.3 points, four rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.7 steals. He came off the bench in the loss to France (but led the team with 18 points and seven boards) because he’d arrived to Tokyo about a day earlier from the NBA Finals. He’s made winning plays, some show up in the box score and some don’t, and he gives Team USA’s potentially potent offense a facilitator and rugged defender at the other end. “I think (my game) fits,” Holiday said. “I feel like I’m here to assist, I’m here to rebound, I’m here to penetrate and make plays for other people, and then pick up full court and be really aggressive defensively. It’s right in my wheelhouse.”
While big-name stars such as Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry will be focusing on their futures, some players are trying to keep their eye on the present. That includes Batum, who doesn't have a contract for next season but insists his only concern is his next game. "It's not easy, I mean, from the outside, but for me it's pretty easy,'' Batum said. "I know where I have to focus on.''
Same with Batum, whom LA Clippers president Lawrence Frank said the team hopes to re-sign. The forward said that is being left to his agent. "I have to make sure my team, myself get ready for the next game because that's a big game and the rest will take of itself,'' said Batum, the French captain.
Some players wait a lifetime for the opportunity to cash in the way he's about to. France has also waited a lifetime to win an Olympic gold medal. Fournier has to juggle all that at once. "It's so unfortunate that I'm going to have to give an answer on the day of the quarterfinal,'' he said. "Hopefully, teams are going to be nice and they can understand that I don't want to rush anything and at least I can wait until after the game.''
Tatum is healthy now and is also coming off his best game in a Team USA uniform, with 27 points and five 3s in a 35-point win over the Czech Republic Saturday night. Tatum was terrible in that exhibition win over Spain (3-of-9 shooting) and in the Olympics-opening loss to France (3-of-9 shooting); he scored 17 but was 2-of-7 from 3 in the 54-point win over Iran. “I don’t know,” Tatum said Saturday night, when asked why he thought he’d gotten off to a slow start. “New environment, new basketball, different style of basketball, the rules are different, playing on a new team, it’s a lot of things. But I was never worried, never concerned. I knew that shots would fall eventually and start to feel good about yourself, and then it’s just basketball.”
Spain is much closer in that department and has the discipline to run an offense that could exploit some of Team USA’s defensive switches. Unless Tatum is back to his old self, and the Americans we’ve seen in the last two games are the collective pieces of a set that is not going to suffer another setback. Any more of those, and the gold medal chase is over. These games really count now. “Our confidence never wavered,” Tatum said. “We understood that it wasn’t gonna be easy. We didn’t have our full team until four days ago, five days ago, so we knew that we had a lot of challenges ahead of us. And we also know that we would continue to get better every day, we would get better from each game, each practice, just the more time that we spent together, we were never going to be the same team, from day one, that we are now. And hopefully we’re better this time next week than we were today.”
Ben Golliver: 2020 Tokyo Olympics men's basketball bracket is set. USA will face Spain, the reigning FIBA World Cup champions, in quarterfinals. If USA wins, would face Australia or Argentina in semis. - France vs. Italy - Slovenia vs. Germany --- - USA vs. Spain - Australia vs. Argentina
Brian Mahoney: Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez on Luis Scola: “I think he didn’t stop one day in the last 25 years.”
And there’s actually a runaway No. 1 as far as the club with the most male basketball players participating: Real Madrid, the team that produced a certain Luka Doncic, who just tied the record for second-most points ever scored in an Olympic basketball contest. The storied Spanish club leads the way with eight players taking part in the Olympic Games this summer, followed by Fenerbahce out of the Turkish League, Australia’s Melbourne United, the Miami Heat (the NBA team with most male basketball representatives in Tokyo), Olimpia Milano (Italy) and Union Olimpija (Slovenia), all of whom have four players at the Games.
Brian Lewis: Durant on passing Carmelo: “Its still weird for me to do stuff like this because I play a team sport& I try my hardest to make it about the group. But it is special to do something like that. Scoring is something I’ve worked on my whole career and expanded my whole career.” #nets
The victory assured Team USA second place in their group and a place in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Their opponent and game time will be determined in a draw Sunday with the only certainty being there cannot be a rematch with France until at least the semifinals. Because of their two blowouts wins the last two games, Team USA will end up with a favorable position and avoid top medal contenders Australia, Spain and potentially even Luka Doncic-led Slovenia in the quarters.
John Karalis: Kevin Durant in a postgame interview is talking about becoming the all-time Team USA leading scorer... as Jayson Tatum walks by Durant says "this guy to the left is going to be the next guy to break the record"
Pau Gasol wasn’t done playing. That was the thought that’s driven him here to these Olympic Games, trying to write the final pages of his career on his terms. “I love the game. I wanted to finish my career playing,” Gasol said after Spain’s Olympic debut. “I had such an incredible and extraordinary career that I didn't want an injury to finish it for me.”
So Gasol is in Tokyo for one last run with the Spanish national team, a group he’s had tremendous success with. He’s enjoying this ride with his brother, Marc, the two men sharing time on the long bus trips back and forth from the basketball venue outside Tokyo. “I'm very happy for him. I'm proud of him. He didn't have to do this,” Marc Gasol said. "You know, he's done everything you can do as a professional athlete. He’s a role model in every level that you can be as a human being and as an athlete. … I don't want to put words in his mouth but he wanted to show himself and everybody that he cares so much about the sport and he wanted to leave it on that note on playing on the court. “So I'm just proud of him. That's it. Just watching him, enjoying every second, every bus ride. ... It's been a lot of fun to watch him do this.”
Joe Vardon: Excellent win for Team USA, given that it trailed by 7 at the end of one quarter. Jayson Tatum scored 27 and Kevin Durant added 23, and USA beat Czech Republic, 119-84, clinching the top No. 2 seed. It means a favorable matchup in the quarterfinals. More to come @The Athletic
Gary Washburn: Nigeria's Chimezie Metu, tore into the country's govt and Olympic committee for mistreatment of NGR athletes. "I'd like to use this time to bring awareness and comment on the off-the-court things a lot of Nigerian athletes have had to go through. in these Olympics." #Tokyo2020
After the game, the 24-year-old Metu expressed frustration with the way he said the Nigerian Olympic Committee handled organizational matters for the Tokyo Games. The basketball teams sent to Saitama had difficulty obtaining proper credentials, and 10 track and field athletes from Nigeria — nearly half the country’s team — were disqualified from competing at the Olympics because the national federation hadn’t ensured they would meet minimum doping test requirements before coming to Tokyo.
“They were disqualified and they had nothing to do with it,” said Metu, who plays for the Sacramento Kings. “What there was was a lack of attention to detail and a lack of empathy for the hard work that has been put in by us athletes. ... For 60-some athletes to come here and fly halfway across the world and be disrespected and humiliated by our country ... it’s a lack of attention to detail by our government.”
Brown said four members of his staff who made the trip to Japan — which wound up being a 30-hour ordeal instead of the planned 10-hour flight, another issue that Metu blamed on a lack of organization — were never allowed in the Olympic village because of credential and paperwork issues “I don’t know why it is this way,” said Brown, who started a foundation earlier this year seeking financial help for the men’s basketball program.
Australia upped its Group B record to 3-0 and secured first place with the 89-76 victory versus Germany on Saturday. Patty Mills packed a game-high 24 points and also dished out six assists leading the way. Jock Landale with 18 points and Nick Kay with 16 points delivered a large chunk of the 42-28 points edge in the paint.
Italy made it to the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games after storming back against Nigeria to secure the win, 80-71, at Saitama Super Arena on Saturday. Nicolo Melli and Achille Polonara put the finishing touches on a 14-0 sprint generating a 70-64 lead. The European side held on to secure the victory punching in the ticket for the next round. The team led by Meo Sacchetti will rank first in Group B if Germany beats Australia by a margin of 17 points or less later in Tokyo. It will be in second place in any other case. A helpful reminder, the three group winners and the best-placed second will be seeded for Sunday’s draw.
Richard Jefferson: Wow Jerry Colangelo! You should have used your burner account for that statement. This is what arrogance looks. How about protecting the people that decide to come to play for USA when so many people told y’all no YEAR AFTER YEAR. This should really help recruitment of vets!!!
Colangelo on Trae Young: “I’m happy that he wants to play for USA Basketball. We had him in one of our camps. We know him in USA Basketball. He’s done really well in the NBA. But predicated on what we felt we needed, he didn’t fit the bill this time around. He’s a young player, he has a future with USA Basketball but it was the opinion of our staff that it wasn’t now. It’s for others to make the declaration ‘you made a mistake.’”
Can roster continuity ever return? Colangelo: “Some things are under your control and some things are not. When I took over I did have some control over setting the tone. I did want a three-year commitment. I needed three-year commitments and I got them. Be it from Carmelo, LeBron, Wade, Chris Paul, etc. We had a good format where we had competition every two years. But the powers that be changed the format and they thought it was going to be a positive — and I immediately said it may be good for the rest of the world but it’s not for USA Basketball.”
As for the players, Colangelo pointed to injuries to Kyle Kuzma, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart that did them in during the World Cup, and the pandemic-condensed schedule that kept a quarter of the roster away because they were in the Finals. And also, this team, as constructed, can still win gold. “If we had everyone in training camp at one time and we were working collectively toward all of our goals and objectives, we would have been much further along. … If all things were equal, we all had the same time to practice, we all had our rosters set, blah blah blah, I don’t think we’d be having this discussion. I don’t. But that’s not the case. So we are gonna do everything we can to overcome it now, and I believe we will.” — Colangelo
Spain players Marc Gasol, Alberto Abalde and Usman Garuba have been placed in semi-isolation after coming into close contact with with a person who tested positive for COVID-19,EFE reports, citing confirmation by the Spanish Federation. All three players can practice and play in the games but have to stay in individual rooms and travel in a different vehicle than the rest of the national team squad.
"If we don't win, people will have their opportunity to take shots. I'm the one that has to look in the mirror and know that I did my best," Colangelo said. "I'll tell you in advance the answer is yes. I believe we're going to win."
"A lot of (players) called me and said they wanted to play, and then said, 'hmm, I'm not so sure.' I can understand it, there's been a lot of things going on," Colangelo said. "It's challenging when you can't even go out the door, except to practice or to a game. It's really hard. If all things were equal, we all had the same time to practice, we all had our rosters set...I don't think we'd be having this discussion. I don't. But that's not the case. So we are going do everything we can to overcome it now, and I believe we will."
Were mistakes made in roster construction? Colangelo on Kevin Love: “I didn’t think Kevin Love was gonna play. I wasn’t even sure he had much left to play. He reached out to us and said he was in shape and said he felt he owed us. And on the basis of that, we’re looking at someone with international experience who at one time was a heck of a rebounder and could still shoot the ball. You know, being like a 12th man on a roster. Well, it didn’t work out. He wasn’t in shape. And he was way behind as it turned out. So you move on. Call it a mistake. Call it giving someone an opportunity. Someone who had equity with us. Guys who play for us get a little plus.”
Are Popovich, his staff and the players who did sign up to blame for any of the losses? Colangelo: “Pop is a very committed guy and he’s very focused, and he’s been, he feels he’s got some things he wants to get accomplished here. He’s got a track record in terms of USA basketball that he would like to see rectified. And so a lot at stake for him. In terms of our total staff, I think they’re terrific guys, great basketball guys. I have great trust in them. I don’t think they are responsible for anything that’s happened, I really don’t.”
This has nothing to do with the proliferation of international talent that’s been causing Team USA trouble or a delayed NBA Finals that prohibited one-quarter of the Olympic team from joining in until just before the first game. Popovich’s famous wine-soaked dinners have been, at best, subdued at the Tokyo Games by restrictions related to COVID-19. “I feel like it’s not the same, you know, having been with Pop at the (World Cup),” said Jay Wright, a Team USA assistant and Villanova head coach. “We are locked in here, so I can tell you it’s not the same. (Chief of staff) Sean Ford is working hard at it, but it’s not the same. I’m feeling for Pop, but he’s handled it well.”
Brady Hawk: Bam Adebayo from Tokyo: “I talk to Jrue (Holiday) mainly from a defensive standpoint. Just how he gets steals, his instincts off-ball.” Also mentions “getting a chemistry with Dame” (Lillard): “I play center, he plays point guard, so we gotta build a connection in the PnR.”
Jorge Sierra: Ricky Rubio has five three-pointers in 25 minutes vs. Argentina. His NBA record is six (in 36 minutes). FIBA Ricky 🔥
Two different emerging stories after Spain claims the win, 81-71, against Argentina on Thursday. Ricky Rubio after recovering from an early injury punched in a team-high 26 points, also a personal-best in FIBA competitions. He was coming off 22 points in the opener. He made 8/13 field goals, including 5/6 threes in his second appearance in Tokyo’s Saitama Super Arena. The team led by Sergio Scariolo fought its way out of a nine-point hole and remained in charge for most of the Group C fixture of the Olympic Games basketball tournament.
Luka Doncic and Zoran Dragic did their part to help the Slovenian selection grab its second-ever Olympic victory with a 116-81 showdown against Japan on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament. With two wins in this group, the selection cannot finish lower than third, and even if so happens, they would still be better than the third-place team from Group A (USA or Czech Republic. Doncic, who entered the court coming from a 48-point debut on Tuesday, had 25 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in this victory, while Dragic added 24 points on 10-13 FG and 4 rebounds. Vlatko Cancar left the court with 16 points, Klemen Prepelic added 12, Jaka Blazic had 10, as all 12 players scored for coach Aleksander Sekulic.
Jorge Sierra: We're only two games in, but as of now Slovenia has the best scoring average in Olympic Games history outside of the 1992 Dream Team. 1992 USA: 117.2 ppg. 2021 Slovenia: 117.0 ppg. 2012 USA: 115.5 ppg.
Jorge Sierra: Luka Doncic is 11-0 in major tournaments with Slovenia (population 2.1 million). 15-0 if you include the Olympic qualifiers. That's pretty staggering.
On the Lillard front, sources say he’ll continue focusing on his Team USA experience while waiting to see how the Blazers’ roster looks later in the offseason before reassessing his situation. Our Trail Blazers beat writer, Jason Quick, details those sensitive dynamics well here.
And two players from the Bucks are not only also on the American team, but circumstances were such that the three had to share a private plane ride across the Pacific last weekend — a day after the Bucks’ championship parade. “The memories are there, but it’s nothing personal between us,” Booker said. “We lost and that’s it, and I’m man enough to accept that and move on. There’s no hate towards Jrue or K Mid.”
Months after LeBron James lost a Finals, he’d always say it was something he’d never get over. Good thing he never had to be Devin Booker, who barely had 10 minutes to try and put it behind him. “I’m a forward thinker and able to move onto the next thing, and be able to take my ‘L’ and move on,” Booker said Wednesday, in his first comments since the night his Phoenix Suns lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, eight days ago.
Booker’s coach on Team USA, Gregg Popovich, and teammate Draymond Green (not to mention assistant coach Steve Kerr, but we digress) have been in Booker’s shoes, having lost a Finals. He said Popovich and Green discussed it with him “in short conversation.” “Talkin’ about it with Draymond, and him stressing the fact that it’s not gonna be that easy to get back to the Finals,” Booker said. “I remember us as a team saying that in the locker room after we lost — you know we’ve got to understand, it’s going to be even harder to make it to the point we were at. … But I’m excited for the experience. It was great. I am glad I got to do it, obviously ended up on the wrong side of the stick, but that’s life.”
"It's a HUGE deal," former NBA player Raja Bell said of the international ball in a text with CBS Sports on Tuesday. "I've always said that FIBA balls affected my shot and other NBA players' shots tremendously. I HATE that ball! "It's lighter, feels smaller, different texture," Bell continued. "I mean, when the art of shooting is based on muscle memory, and you change all the factors except the rim size and height, it's going to be difficult."
In another exchange with a Western Conference scout, the conclusion was similar. "[The ball is] definitely a factor," the scout said. "How big a factor I guess depends on the particular player. But it's an adjustment for everyone. Some guys are going to make [the adjustment] easier than others." And another text from an Eastern Conference scout with international playing experience: "It's pretty different, and it takes some getting used to. It's much softer than NBA or college basketballs."
Basketball observers say the players don’t seem to be enjoying playing in the system Popovich is asking them to work within, that there is too much thinking and too much looking to force the extra pass instead of reacting to what’s in front of them.
No one would dare suggest that the Popovich legacy is riding on a turnaround in Tokyo, but these next 10 or so days likely amount to his last shot to rewrite some of the eyesore chapters of a mostly storybook journey. "We'll win the gold medal," Don Nelson, another longtime Popovich friend and fan like Brown, said over the phone the other day. "He'll figure it out,” Nelson said.
In 2012, with arguably the greatest Olympic basketball team ever, the Americans averaged 115.5 points. Durant was on that team with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. In 2008, Team USA averaged 106.2 points per game, and in 2016, the Durant-led USAB averaged 109.9 points. Previous World Cup teams were equally proficient scorers. But it’s fallen off the map since Popovich took over, and at least publicly no one seems to want to address why. As The Athletic reported Monday morning, players were visibly and audibly frustrated after losing to France, lamenting that they were running the “Spurs’ offense,” or a system that, in the opinion of the players logging the complaint, seemed to limit scoring ability.
“We know how to play with each other, we know how to make the right pass, and nobody here is expecting to lead the team in shot attempts,” Durant said. “We know we have guys that can catch and shoot the basketball. “The teams I played on, the last two or three teams, I might have 30 one night and I might have 20 the next night. … Nobody came in saying we’re going to start the game off giving the ball to Kobe or me or Bron. We have guys that have high IQ, and whatever is presented to us, we adapt.”
As he further explained, he enjoys “being a star” in Tokyo. “It is a very special day for Slovenia,” said Doncic about the nation’s Olympic debut as adapted by Marca, a game in which he was only seven points away from tying the scoring record in the Olympics held by Oscar Schmidt (55 points). Despite this huge feat, Doncic takes it day by day. “I don’t care about the records, we wanted a victory and that’s what we came for”. “I like being a star of the Games; I feel good to be one of the stars if I am”, said Doncic, who also joked about the photos taken in the Olympic Village. “I’m taking a lot of photos, yes, there could be more, although the one with the most photos is Djokovic”.
Gigantes del Basket: Someone has a message for Luka Doncic. Oscar Schmidt: "I hope you break my record"
Jorge Sierra: Luka Doncic makes his Olympic debut, posts the best scoring mark ever by an NBA player at the Games with 48 points. It's also the second-best scoring mark ever overall, behind Oscar Schmidt's 55 back in 1988. WOW.
Dwain Price: And the final score is: Slovenia 118, Argentina 100. In his Olympic debut Luka finished with 48-11-5. He was 18-of-29 from the floor and 6-of-14 from downtown. In other words, Luka shopped for the groceries, cooked the food and ate up everything. He was the top chef tonight.#Mavs
So why are borderline amateur 5-on-5ers the best in the world? Surely, if KD, or really any NBA star showed up, they’d cruise to a guaranteed gold medal … right? “Yeah, I think —” Latvia’s Nauris Miezis, the world's top-ranked player, began, then he cut himself off and reconsidered. “No. I don't think [Durant] would win the first tournament.” Hold up. So he’d struggle initially? “Against Latvia, for sure,” Miezis said with a smile.
Serbia’s Dusan Bulut, “the 3x3 GOAT,” hesitated too. “Five-on-five players come to 3x3, they need some period of adjustment,” Bulut said. Indeed, when asked if NBA players could come in and waltz to gold, the prevailing opinion expressed among 3x3 stars was: not so fast. Sometimes partly in jest, sometimes genuinely. “I don't think every 5-on-5 player will adjust quickly to 3x3,” Dominique Jones, the top American player in FIBA’s world rankings, told Yahoo Sports. “It's not just you coming up and playing, and you're just gonna beat one of the top teams.”
Ryan Ward: Team USA Basketball remains the favorite to win gold in Tokyo after today’s loss to France, according to @SportsBettingAG : USA -300, Australia +800, Spain +900, France +1100, Slovenia +1800, Italy +2500, Argentina +3300, Nigeria +4000
To be clear, Popovich is horrified by his own record coaching this team. He dwells on it and hates the losing. The players are frustrated, too, grumbling on their way back to the locker room about “running the San Antonio offense” when apparently they feel like there are better ideas. Pop has said, because of the truncated nature of Team USA’s training camp, the offense would be based on “concepts” instead of set plays.
"I think we have a history of dominance and maybe not always blowing people out, but we have a history of winning. And it's not often that you see Team USA go out there and lose, especially to start," said Lillard, who was just 3-of-10 shooting and had two hurtful turnovers late in the game. "I think that's why a lot of people will make it seem like the end of the world, but our job as professionals and this team and representing our country at the Olympics, we've got to do what's necessary and we still can accomplish what we came here to accomplish."
The Americans now will likely have to win their final two pool play games against Iran and Czech Republic to advance to the medal round. They could technically advance on scoring margin if they lose another game, however. "We were just trying too hard to do the right thing," Lillard said. "Instead of just being who we are -- the best players in the NBA."
“People shouldn’t be surprised that the French team or the Australian team or the Spanish team or the Lithuanian team… It doesn’t matter who it is — the gap in talent shrinks every year, as there are more and more great players all over the world. And you need to give the French team credit for playing well, they were more consistent than we were at both ends of the court. It’s as simple as that,” coach Popovich said while explaining why France’s two wins over the USA in the last two games aren’t a surprise.
Tim Legler on USA's loss: "You don't have great role definition on this team... It's sort of a 'my turn, your turn' type of philosophy offensively. When the talent discrepancy is not nearly as great as it used to be, you're gonna run into some problems."
“I’m rooting for Coach Popovich and the U.S. Team,’’ Ewing told The Post in an emailed interview. “It’s an unfortunate time we’re living in right now — losing players to COVID-19 protocols. It’s harder to play now because of the Dream Team. All of the current players grew up looking up to us and watching us dominate the rest of the world. But the rest of the world caught up. “There are so many talented players. Some of the NBA’s top players today come from all over the world. It wasn’t like that back then.’’
StatMuse: Team USA had scored below 80 points only once in the last 56 Olympic games since 1992. They scored 76 points today on 36/31/76% shooting. pic.twitter.com/sF3nGovqIt
Ben Golliver: USA Coach Gregg Popovich on Tokyo Olympic opening loss to France: "When you lose a game, you're not surprised. You're disappointed. I don't understand the word 'surprised.' That sort of disses the French team, as if we're supposed to beat them by 30. That's a hell of a team."
September 26, 2021 | 3:30 pm EDT Update
Salman Ali: Rockets camp roster: DJ Augustin Tyler Bey Armoni Brooks Josh Christopher Dante Exum Usman Garuba Eric Gordon Jalen Green Danuel House Anthony Lamb KJ Martin Daishen Nix David Nwaba Kevin Porter Jr. Alperen Sengun Jae’Sean Tate Daniel Theis Khryi Thomas John Wall Christian Wood
September 26, 2021 | 12:48 pm EDT Update
Where do you feel you rank among the top point guards in the game? Ja Morant: Top 5. If you’re Top 5, who else is there with you? Ja Morant: Morant: Steph (Curry). I’m a big Chris Paul fan. I’d say Dame (Lillard) and (Russell) Westbrook. It’s tough. The point guard position is so loaded. Some guys have to get left out.
Your teammate, Jaren Jackson Jr., was the No. 2 breakout player, according to a poll of 15 NBA executives I did for HoopsHype. What do you expect from a healthy Jaren this season? Ja Morant: To me, personally, I think he’s No. 1 if he’s healthy. He’s been battling some injuries that set him back. A healthy Jaren is definitely the number one breakout player this season. He’s just a special talent that’s gifted. He’s 7-foot-1, can shoot the three, can put it on the floor, and can play inside. He does so much on the floor. As long as he stays healthy, which we need him to be, he’s definitely number one.
What do you think of Dillon Brooks as a defender and as a player overall for this team? Ja Morant: Dillon is an important piece to this team offensively and defensively. I’ve been saying a lot now that I feel like he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his defense, especially against some of the top guys. Some of them probably won’t admit it, but I feel like most of the games when they struggled, Dillon was guarding them. Soon, that’ll come that he gets his respect for that. Offensively, how he’s able to score the ball from all three levels is big-time for us.
Speaking of locker rooms, what are the expectations in the locker room for the Grizzlies this season? Where do you guys think you can compete on what type of level? Ja Morant: I feel like we can compete with the top teams in this league. We all have that mindset, and this chip on our shoulder we go out and play with each and every night. Now, it’s continuing to buy in and keep gelling as a team and getting better with chemistry. Having more guys step up and talk who’ve been in the game for a while to help the young guys come along. Our goal this year is to continue to be better in all areas and better than we were last year.