Posts Tagged ‘Leandro Barbosa’

Brazil, Spain, Russia, Argentina And Nigeria Impress In Olympic Openers

LONDON – The U.S. Men’s Senior National Team wasn’t the only crew to walk away from the first day of Olympic competition with an impressive win, theirs coming in a 98-71 thumping of France in the third game of the day.

There were familiar faces (to NBA fans) on the court all day and night, as Brazil, Spain,Russia, Argentina and Nigeria all made good first impressions at the Olympic Basketball Stadium.

A quick round-up of the action …


The Aminu brothers, Alade and Al-Farouq combined for 25 points and 18 rebounds as Nigeria, the last team to qualify for this 12-team field, held off a late rally from the African champions in the first game of the day. Ike Diogu added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Amine Rzig scored 15 of his 18 points in the second-half to lead Tunisia in what was the Olympic debut for both teams.


Leandro Barbosa scored 16 points but it was his backcourt mate, Brazilian captain Marcelo Huertas, who played the hero as they held off a late push from Australia on two free throws from Huertas with five seconds to play. David Andersen scored all 14 of his points after halftime and Patty Mills led Australia with a game-high 20 points, but it wasn’t enough.


Pau Gasol was dominant, scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 17 points, as the silver medalists and two-time European champs whipped China. Yi Jianlian was impressive in defeat, scoring a game-high 30 points for China, which had no answer for Spain’s depth and quality backcourt duo of Juan Carlos Navarro (14 points) and Jose Calderon (12).


The gracious hosts were no match for the Minnesota Timberwolves-bound duo of Andrei Kirilenko (35 points) and Alexey Shved (16 points and 13 assists, who sparked Russia’s dominating performance. Luol Deng scored the first basket of the game, the first for the British in the Olympics since 1948, and finished with 26 points. But he and Pops Mensah-Bonsu (22) couldn’t help the home team overcome Russia or an ugly 4-for-26 effort from beyond the 3-point line.


Luis Scola scored 32 points, Manu Ginobili finished with 21, 10 rebounds and six assists and Carlos Delfino added 20 points for the 2004 gold medalists, who struggled in their exhibition run-up to this competition but celebrated Ginobili’s 35th birthday in style. Linas Kleiza scored 20 points to lead Lithuania, which defeated Argentina in the opener for both teams four years ago in Beijing.


For a look at Tuesday’s schedule, click here!

Mavs Could Still Look To West

HANG TIME, Texas – They were not able to reel in their No. 1 free agent target Deron Williams and they watched future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd escape to New York.

But the Mavericks, with spaces to fill on their roster, are still hoping to fill one of them with guard Delonte West.

Despite a finger injury that forced him to miss one-third of the 66-game post-lockout schedule and that bizarre delivering of a “wet willie” to Utah’s Gordon Hayward back in April, West was a far more solid addition to the Dallas lineup last season than, say, Lamar Odom and could help while Darren Collison and rookie Jared Cunningham learn the offense.

“We’ve got 15 spots and 13 players are under contract,’’ general manager Donnie Nelson told on Monday. “We’ve got a little work to do yet, hopefully Delonte will slide into one of those spots.

“If that’s the case that’ll be great.’’

And if that’s not the case?

“There’s also an argument for keeping that last roster spot open, because sometimes you get lucky towards the end of the summer,’’ Nelson said. “That’s probably how we’ll play it up, unless something really good presents itself.

“We’re still in negotiations with his agent and we’re hopeful that we can work something out,’’ Nelson said. “Obviously he’s got options and he’s got to sort through those.

“Some of those are timing issues there. We’ve just got to continue to negotiate and talk and see if there’s a fit there.’’ (more…)

Brazil A Test For The U.S. On Monday

WASHINGTON, D.C. – From every angle, Spain, featuring a frontline of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, is the biggest threat to the U.S. Men’s Senior National team in its quest to win a second straight Olympic gold medal.

Argentina, with its generation of international stars playing one last tournament together, is a dangerous threat. France has as much NBA talent as any team outside of the U.S. And Lithuania and Russia are two more tough teams who won’t be eliminated easily.

But the team that gave the United States their toughest game at the 2010 World Championship was Brazil, who the U.S. will play Monday in an exhibition game at the Verizon Center (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2). It’s the U.S. Team’s final action on American soil before they travel to Manchester and Barcelona for three more exhibitions, and then to London for the Olympics.

The U.S. Women will also play Brazil as part of a double-header. The women’s game precedes the men on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

The Brazilian men finished ninth in Turkey, but they gave the U.S. a real scare in preliminary round action before falling 70-68 in a game that was inches away from going to overtime. It was also a game that was played without two of Brazil’s best players, Nene (not on the roster) and Anderson Varejao (injured).

Five players on this year’s U.S. Team were there in Istanbul and remember that game pretty vividly. The other seven got a taste of it when the team watched film Sunday morning before practice. (more…)

Pacers’ Stephenson Still Learning

ORLANDO — For a player whose nickname in high school was Born Ready, Lance Stephenson has been anything but in two seasons with the Pacers.

So now entering what could be a make-or-break (non-guaranteed contract) year, Stephenson is back at the Air Tran Orlando Pro Summer League to prove that he should stick around and made a statement with 28 points and seven assists in a win over the Thunder.

“I’m here to do anything I can to get better as a player and help my team,” Stephenson said. “I’m working on pick-and-rolls, coming off and hitting my jump shot and trying to get my teammates involved.

“What the coaches have told me is they want me to be more like a point guard, be a leader and take control of situations.”

Pacers’ assistant Dan Burke, who is coaching the summer league bunch, says it’s an all-around improvement to Stephenson’s approach on and off the floor that could make a difference. The most notable thing he did in the playoffs this season was giving the “choke” sign to LeBron James after a missed free throw. (more…)

Top Exec Bird Leaves Them Guessing

INDIANAPOLIS — Once you’ve won Executive of the Year, adding to your three MVPs and Coach of the Year and three championships and etc., etc., where do you go from here?

Hopefully, for the Pacers’ sake, Larry Bird goes back to work.

“Right now we’re working on the Draft and we’ve got free agency, so it never stops,” he said. “We keep plugging along.”

That’s the closest Bird has come to committing to next season. Right now, the franchise is left to guess, like everyone else, what exactly is in Bird’s immediate future. And if he knows, he’s not saying. Bird has maintained all along that he’ll wait until after this season to decide whether to retire or solider on as Pacers president, and the drama is only building because the Pacers’ season is stretching longer than it has in seven years.

Much of that is due to the turnaround engineered by Bird, who was officially named the league’s top exec Wednesday, the day after the Pacers evened their second-round series with the Heat. The honor is well deserved by Bird, only the third man (after Frank Layden and Pat Riley) to own a coach and executive award, because his fingerprints are all over this current Pacers’ team. In the last several months, Bird added David West, George Hill, Louis Amundson and Leandro Barbosa without giving up much in terms of core assets. Handcuffed by the realities of the typical small-market team, and one that hasn’t had the luxury of landing a franchise player through the draft, the Pacers are deep and with a mix of veterans and youth.


Pacers come up empty in clutch

INDIANAPOLIS -- It is a stretch to say the Pacers are missing a go-to guy, the type of player who can make a difference in winning and losing. Well, actually, it’s a silly suggestion.

They do have that player. And he’s tried and tested many times. You might even say he’s legendary in that regard, one of the all-time greats.

But Larry Bird isn’t climbing down from that president’s suite anytime soon, and so the Pacers better find someone half as good, and quick. Or their stay in the playoffs will be quick.

Danny Granger blew two free throws and was whistled for traveling in the closing moments of Game 1 against Orlando. Paul George was left wide open for a pair of mid-range jumpers and missed. There was no one else to be found, even as coach Frank Vogel desperately sent out the bat signal. The result was an embarrassing loss to a Magic team missing Dwight Howard. A team without a go-to player of its own.

“We’ve got to figure out how to finish,” said David West. “We’ve done it during the season. But these are the playoffs.”

This is the type of situation that doomed the Pacers last spring against the Bulls. They were otherwise solid in that series, but crumbled in the clutch. After adding Leandro Barbosa and West and watching George grow up, the Pacers were supposed to be improved in that area. One game into the playoffs, we see the search for a savior remains a work in progress.

Obviously, the most logical candidate is Granger, the one player who truly demands the ball. Except: Is this the same Granger from a few years back, a big scorer who was wasted on a bunch of crummy teams? Granger isn’t as good a scorer now, and his jumper comes and goes. West is a trusty second-option but you can’t find too many examples in his history that suggest he’s The One. As for George, he isn’t old enough to shave yet.

Vogel: “We’ll be all right. We’ll be fine without your quote-unquote go-to guy. We’ve made some big shots this season and we’ve grown in that area. It’s not in our nature to panic. We just need to share the ball more. We’re very dialed in to what we need to do.”

Until the Pacers find their late-game solution, it’ll remain an issue. This is a team that brings depth, veteran leadership and can be gritty on defense. These playoff games have a tendency to be suspenseful late in the fourth quarter, however, and in that regard the Pacers are still developing as contenders.

The competitor inside Bird, even now, would love to be in that situation. His time is over, though. It’s up to his hand-picked players to develop the cut-throat personality of their boss.

Blogtable: Most Impactful Recent Trade

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Not counting Dwight staying in Orlando, what recent move at the trade deadline will make the most difference this year?

Steve Aschburner: Milwaukee adding Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh. The Bucks already were rolling, winning four in a row before adding the two Golden State acquisitions to their rotation, but now they’ve made it six. That infusion of talent where there was none – Andrew Bogut was forever in the trainers room, Stephen Jackson in the doghouse – and what coach Scott Skiles will do with it over the final month trumps, for me, a temporary Woodsonity bump in New York. One caveat: Milwaukee had better start playing defense not just like a Skiles team but like a playoff team, period. And that won’t be easy with an Ellis-Brandon Jennings backcourt.

Fran Blinebury: It certainly didn’t make a lot of coast-to-coast headlines, but the Spurs pulling the wild and crazy Stephen Jackson back into the fold gives them another scorer and makes them a tougher out in the playoffs.  Coach Gregg Popovich would much rather deal with Capt. Jack’s idiosyncrasies than Richard Jefferson‘s disappearing act.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Stephen Jackson will be a boost, in energy and play, to the Spurs. And he will not be a problem, not going back to an organization he loved being part of before and not being reunited with a coach he respects. Plus, San Antonio will save about $11 million in the deal, at the cost of a first-round pick that will probably be in the 20s. (more…)

Pacers Get Barbosa

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Indiana Pacers, looking to augment their reserves for the stretch run, will acquire veteran guard Leandro Barbosa from the Toronto Raptors for a second-round pick, according to a league source.

Barbosa, 29, is averaging 12.2 points per game this season in 42 games off the bench for the Raptors. He has been with Toronto the last two seasons after spending his first seven seasons with the Suns. The Pacers are $14 million under the cap and wanted to be a conduit for potential trades before today’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. Barbosa will play both a key role in Indiana’s guard rotation, which includes starters Darren Collison and Paul George.

The Associated Press also reports that the Pacers received veteran guard Anthony Carter in the deal, too.

Yahoo! Sports first reported the trade.

Hump Day Morning Trade Chatter

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Brook Lopez is definitely back. He put on an offensive show for the Nets last night in their win over the Mavericks.

A trade deadline cynic would argue that he was being showcased as well. He’s long been rumored to be the piece the Nets would have to deliver to the Magic in a potential blockbuster deal for Dwight Howard.

The broken right foot that cost Lopez 32 games this season appears to be in fine shape, he dropped 38 points and the go-ahead free throw to power the Nets over the Mavericks last night. His every move will be analyzed as the perfect bait for the Magic, who have to make a decision to either deal or not deal Howard before the March 15 deadline.

Deron Williams gushed about his current big man after the win over the Mavs, telling reporters:

“He was a monster tonight. He carried us from the start of the game and it makes a difference, I’ve said it all season. … He knows how to play the game and we’re glad to have him back.”

Williams has to be measured in his praise. And the Nets have to be careful with Lopez, who outside of his ability score, isn’t in Howard’s category in any way. If they see him play at a high level for long enough, they might start to rethink this notion of moving him for Howard or anyone else.

Still, you can’t argue that Lopez has great timing. The Nets have won three of their last five games, and that includes wins over the Bulls, Knicks and now, the reigning champs.


Go ahead and add Timberwolves’ forward Michael Beasley to the list of players being showcased as the trade deadline draws near. So what if he’s still coming off the bench.

Rookie Derrick Williams and Beasley dropped 27 points a piece as the Timberwolves knocked off the Clippers in Los Angeles. They’ve both been overshadowed this season by All-Star power forward Kevin Love and rookie sensation Ricky Rubio. But with rumors swirling about the Timerbwolves hoping to get involved in a potential deal for Lakers forward Pau Gasol, Beasley would have to be a part of that deal.


Hang Time Without Borders

LONDON – The fleece jacket with the logo was a dead giveaway.

Or maybe it was the red, white and blue skull-cap with “ATL” splashed across the forehead that tipped him off.

“You here for the big game?” the baby-faced kid said to me, not realizing I was lost and in need of someone, anyone here in this massive and historic city, to point me in the direction of my hotel.

“Yes sir, Nets and Raptors doing the deed twice this week at the 02 Arena,” I shot back. “You must be a big NBA fan to find me like this. I knew there were NBA fans over here.”

Look at that. Mere hours after crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the trip I like to call Hang Time Without Borders, my faith in the global reach of the game was justified by a kind stranger willing to show me the way to my hotel in Canary Wharf, in London’s business district.

Only he was no ordinary kid. He was a bell hop at the hotel and spotted my get up and knew instantly where I was headed. And the big game he spoke of had nothing to do with the Nets and Raptors. Chelsea and Manchester United had a game last night at Chelsea’s home stadium.

“This is a futbol country, or as you say in the states, soccer,” he said with a smile. “You have heard of Didier Drogba? Frankie Lampard? Those are my guys. I like basketball all right, but the biggest game around here is Chelsea against Man-U. And I’m a big Chelsea fan. I have to tell you, the NBA has some work to do over here. There just aren’t as many fans here as you are used to in the States.”

That’s why I’m here, my man. This is like the basketball crusades. A mission that the NBA began years ago with routine stops in Europe and one that will be realized here in the United Kingdom specifically in 2012, when the Olympics will be held here and the world’s greatest basketball stars from the NBA and around the globe will converge on this city like the plague.

(Sorry for the medieval reference, but you try reading up on the history of this place and not diving into character.)