We have our first real upset of EuroBasket, just as things are starting to get interesting (Lithuania vs. Spain and Germany vs. Serbia Sunday, for example).
Macedonia 72, Greece 58: This is a pretty big upset — Macedonia had never won a EuroBasket game before this tournament, while in recent years Greece has been one of the better teams in Europe (it was just five years ago they upset the USA at the FIBA World Championship semi-finals). But a good rule of thumb is if you shoot 31 percent from the field as a team for the game, you’re going to lose. That said, this was close until the fourth courter, when Macedonia pulled away. Macedonia is now 2-1 in group play (same record as Greece) and they have a good chance of advancing to the knockout round, which is a huge win for them.
Slovenia 87, Georgia 75: Slovenia is now 3-0, tied with Russia atop Group D and almost certainly headed to the knockout round. And they are a team to be feared there. That said, the Rockets Goran Dragic is not wowing anyone in this tournament, with a 1-8 shooting performance Saturday, which leaves him shooting 32 percent for the tournament (but he is 7-of-14 from three).
Russia 79, Belgium 58: No real shock here, and Russia is now 3-0 and headed to the next round. By the way, Timofey Mozgov has been solid, scoring 5.7 points per game on 61.5 percent shooting and pulling down three boards per contest in limited minutes.
In other action: Croatia 87, Montenegro 81; Finland 92, Bosnia Herzegovina 64; Ukraine 67, Bulgaria 56 (a win for Mike Fratello’s team).
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.