Pau Gasol EuroBasket

EuroBasket Day 5: Yup, Spain is the team to beat

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Welcome to our daily update. Things are starting to really shake out in the group play of EuroBasket, and with that we are really starting to see who the contenders for the Olympic berths are. What we are saying is, we would like you to meet Spain, Russia and Serbia.

Spain 91, Lithuania 79: Spain raced out to a 22-7 lead in this one and never looked back. This was the first real test for the Spanish side and they looked like the dominant favorites that they are. What Spain showed was their depth. Sure, Pau Gasol still had 17 points, but Juan Carlos Navaro had 22 points on 13 shots and Serge Ibaka had 15 points off the bench. Jonas Valanciunas had 13 points in the loss. Spain is the team to beat, make no mistake.

France 91, Italy 84: Tony Parker, the best player in EuroBasket through the first four days, was out in the fourth quarter with a thigh injury and the French still won. That is huge. Boris Diaw had 21 points, so take that Diaw haters. notes that France has the best points-per-possession offense in EuroBasket, which is good for a team where the question is: “Could they score?”

Poland 84, Turkey 83: Here was your upset of the day. Turkey finished second in the World Championships (on their home court) and was undefeated coming into this game, but Poland pulls the upset. Turkey was up 7 with five minutes left, so you can say Poland won this or Turkey lost it, depending on your mood. Good news Jazz fans, Enes Kanter continued to look good with 19 points.

Serbia 75, Germany 64: If you’re an NBA fan, the names on the Turkish team confuse you because you don’t now them, but they are good. Dirk Nowitzki had 25 points and Chris Kaman had 10, but Serbian point guard Milos Teodosic shredded the German defense and that will be a key going forward.

Great Britain 85, Portugal 73: The first win for next year’s Olympic hosts, with Luol Deng leading the way with his 31 points.

In other action: Israel 91, Latvia 88; Macidonia72, Finland 70; Slovenia 70, Belgium 61; Bosnia Herzegovina 92, Croatia 80; Greece 71, Montenegro 51, Georgia 69, Ukraine 53; Bosnia Herzegovina 92, Croatia 80.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)


Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.