LONDON – The first ever matchup between San Antonio Spurs teammates Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in a FIBA or Olympic competition lived up to the hype.
And when it was over Parker and France had scored the first legitimate upset of this Olympic competition with a 71-64 win over Ginobili and Argentina Tuesday night at the Olympic Basketball Arena.
Parker was the catalyst for his team, finishing with 17 points, despite a 4-for-17 shooting effort, and five assists in the battle for bragging rights between these two NBA champions and All-Stars. Parker had plenty of help as France bounced back from Sunday’s 27-point loss to the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team.
Nicolas Batum was hot early and late, draining three of his six shots from beyond the 3-point line, and finishing his night with 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists. France finished the game without both Ronny Turiaf (13 points and six rebounds) and Boris Diaw, they fouled on in a six-second span in the fourth quarter when the game was still in the balance. Nando de Colo (13 points) and Kevin Seraphin (10 points and six rebounds) played huge minutes off of the bench for the winners as well.
France played the game at the pace they preferred for much of the night, hoisting 25 shots from beyond the 3-point line (and making nine) and led by as many as nine points.
Still, they had to hold off the relentless Ginobili and his crew. Ginobili led Argentina with 26 points and five rebounds. But Luis Scola was the only other player on the roster to score in double figures (16 points and eight rebounds).
HANG TIME, TEXAS – Remember how things used to be with the Clippers? They were the NBA’s version of the groundhog, coming out on rare occasion only long enough to see their shadow and then going back into hibernation.
Not anymore, Punxsutawney Phil-breath.
After a thoroughly enjoyable 40-26 season that earned them the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and then a stirring seven-game first-round playoff series win over Memphis, the Clips have hardly spent the summer relaxing on the beach.
The Pacers and Heat will actually get around to deciding this East semifinal series on the court, but before Game 6 they threw verbal punches, the kind that don’t draw suspensions, which is what Udonis Haslem and DexterPittman received and Tyler Hansbrough didn’t.
“I mean, Hansbrough, it’s not the first time he’s gone after one of our players this year,” said LeBron James. “We have two guys suspended and basically they have no one suspended.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, citing the physical whacks on LeBron and Dwyane Wade, said: “The league does not have a problem with hard fouls on our two main guys. In nine games now (including regular season games with Indiana) there’s been over a dozen hard fouls to the face, some of the tomahawk variety, some have drawn blood. They don’t have a problem with it, so we don’t have a problem with it. We’ll focus on what we can control.”
Well, what Miami can control is its fate in this “wild wild West” series, to quote Danny Granger, with two chances to close out the Pacers. Putting aside the bad blood for a moment, both teams aren’t at full strength, Miami without Chris Bosh and Haslem, the Pacers hoping Granger will overcame a bum ankle suffered in Game 5.
For Game 6, anyway, given the injury/suspension issue, it’s a matter of everyone shutting up and certain players stepping up. Here are the candidates for the latter: (more…)
MIAMI — Chris Bosh will return when his gut tells him to, and right now, that gut is in too much pain to speak.
Such is the case with abdominal strains. They heal on their timetable, not yours. And so the Heat must definitely make do without Bosh for Game 2, and perhaps without Bosh for the entire series against the Pacers, and who knows beyond that. If Miami’s season lasts beyond that.
“The season has to be extended,” Bosh said, after his MRI, “in order for me to play again.”
That doesn’t sound like a guy who expects to suit up against against the Pacers, which means Bosh’s strain is likely in the medium range. A mild strain, he comes back by next week. A severe strain, he misses a handful of weeks, as Kevin Garnett once did, as Mo Williams once did, as Manu Ginobili once did.
“This is something we’re taking day by day,” he said. “It’s not the worse thing that could happen, and that’s the good news. Nothing would surprise me [if he didn't return this series]. These are the cards I’ve been dealt right now.”
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Veteran basketball team seeks center and/or power forward for final 20 games of season and playoffs. Relocation necessary.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. And right now, the Boston Celtics are desperate.
Their starting center, Jermaine O’Neal, is out for the season. Their back-up center, Chris Wilcox, is out for the season. Their third-string center is an undrafted rookie you probably hadn’t heard of before December unless you somehow have a tolerance for low-scoring college basketball games. (His name is Greg Stiemsma and he played for Wisconsin. Oh, he also missed shootaround on Monday with a sore foot.)
So yeah, the Celtics could use whatever help they can get from any free agent big man who might be available. And cue Rick Pitino, because Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish aren’t walking through that door.
In a stunning development late Saturday night, the three-team talks between the Lakers, Rockets and Hornets that would have sent Chris Paul to Los Angeles collapsed, with the Lakers moving toward trading Lamar Odom instead to the Dallas Mavericks. Odom would be placed into the new traded player exception the Mavericks received earlier Saturday when they completed a three-team trade with New York and Washington that sent Tyson Chandler to the Knicks and Ronny Turiaf to the Wizards.
The Lakers apparently decided to move on while the league was contemplating various versions of the deal, and in doing so potentially cleared the decks to make a bid for Orlando center Dwight Howard. The initial version would have sent Lakers forward Pau Gasol to the Rockets, and sent Odom to New Orleans, with Rockets forward Luis Scola, guards Kevin Martin and Luis Scola, and a 2012 first-round pick going to the Hornets as well. But the NBA, which owns the Hornets, nixed the deal Thursday, citing “basketball reasons” for not letting it go through. The decision was derided when it was disclosed that several owners opposed the deal, thinking it gave the already talent-rich Lakers yet another superstar player, while saddling the Hornets with older and more expensive players.
Owners also were concerned, according to a management source, with the potential sale value of the team with all of the extra salaries the Hornets would be taking on over the next three years. The team had sold 10,000 season tickets this year in New Orleans Arena, and the league is looking to sell the team to an owner who will commit to keeping the team in New Orleans. The league instructed the Hornets to restart talks Friday, according to sources involved in the discussions, with an eye toward getting more young players and draft picks.
But after hours of exploring various scenarios, with the Lakers providing additional picks and the Rockets giving up some more players, the Lakers got tired of waiting.
“The league took too long to decide and may have overplayed its hand,” a source involved in the discussions said late Saturday night.
The collapse of the talks leaves the Hornets frustrated and in an incredibly difficult bind, with just six players in camp and with Paul still seeking to be dealt elsewhere. Several teams, including the Clippers and Celtics, have held off of other potential deals in the hopes that they might somehow be able to get into the Paul Sweepstakes. The Clippers believed late Saturday that there was still a way for them to get involved, but it wasn’t clear what pieces they would be willing to use to try and make an offer to New Orleans. They had adamantly refused to include guard Eric Gordon in any potential trade discussions earlier this week.
Boston had offered a package centered around guard Rajon Rondo, young players and draft picks, but the Hornets weren’t interested.
The Mavericks have already let free agents Chandler and Caron Butler go, and appear to be ready to lose reserve guard J.J. Barea leave as well, citing the need to keep as much cap room as free as possible for the summer of 2012. Odom has two seasons left on his four-year, $32 million deal he signed in 2009, but only $2.4 million of his $8.2 million salary for 2012-13 is guaranteed, which would fall in line with Dallas’ approach for next offseason.
The Lakers would have cleared more than $20 million in cap room by dealing Odom and Gasol for Paul, which many around the league believe they would have tried to use next summer on All-Pro center Dwight Howard. Now it will be much more difficult, though there is still the possibility they could send Gasol elsewhere in a separate deal.
The Lakers, however, were one of three teams that have been given permission to enter into trade talks with the representatives for Howard on Friday, so it is reasonable to assume they’d be willing to package both Gasol and center Andrew Bynum in a deal for Howard. If the Lakers agreed to take back the salary of forward Hedo Turkoglu ($10.6 million this season), the deal could be made easily.
GREENBURGH, NY – The New York Knicks played pretty well without Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire in the second half of Tuesday’s Game 2 in Boston. And the numbers show that the Knicks have played much better when they’ve had just one of their stars on the court than when they’ve had two or three.
But, of course, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni would prefer that Stoudemire and/or Billups are healthy for Friday’s Game 3 at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).
The Knicks practiced without Stoudemire or Billups on Thursday. Billups received treatment on his strained left knee at the Knicks’ practice facility, but Stoudemire was getting treatment at his home in Manhattan, so that he didn’t have to travel an hour each way in the car and possibly aggravate the pulled muscle in his back.
D’Antoni is clearly more optimistic about the chances that Stoudemire will play Friday, but the team will have to wait until at least Friday morning to see how Stoudemire feels.
Billups had blood drained from his knee and took a cortisone shot on Wednesday.
“At this point, I know there’s no way I can come back and be 100 percent,” Billups said. “But I don’t have to be 100 to come back. I just want to be able to help the team and not hurt the team. If I can get to that point, then I’ll be out there.”