United States v Dominican Republic - Men's Exhibition Game

Coach K shuffles rotation, not that it matters as USA routs Britain

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If Thursday’s game in Manchester is any indication Great Britain is going to be a lovely host for the 2012 Olympic Games.

They rolled out the red carpet for Team USA and by the end of the first quarter pretty much rolled over for Team USA, which went on to rout GBR 118-78 in a pre-Olympics exhibition. As a side note, this makes Team USA 52-1 under coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The game itself was never going to be that interesting, GBR has Luol Deng, “Pops” Mensah-Bonsu, and Joel Freeland, then a bunch of guys. No offense to the guys but the USA has Anthony Davis as the last guy on the bench, this was over before it started.

The only interesting thing is that Mike Krzyzewski rewarded Deron Williams and Kevin Durant for their strong play in the first two games by starting them and moving Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul to the bench. Williams continued to play brilliantly and had 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting (5-of-6 from three) plus five dimes. Durant just had an off night — in the first quarter he missed a dunk and a layup back-to-back — and finished with 13 points but needed 12 shots to get there.

It will be interesting to see if Coach K sticks with this lineup and how it plays out in more challenging upcoming tune-ups against Argentina and Spain.

For this game, they could have subbed your or me into the starting lineup and it wouldn’t have mattered. So don’t read much into it.

Like a lot of Team USA’s games this tournament, it was a case where a pumped up group of starters for Great Britain — and they have some talent — could hang around with the USA for most of a quarter. But the USA is deep with athletes and talent that will wear all but a handful of teams in the world down.

In this case, it was Carmelo Anthony coming off the bench with the hot hand to spark a late first-quarter run. The thing I love about Carmelo in the international game and on this team is that he works off the ball and defers. He finished with 19 points on 10 shots.

Russell Westbrook also stood out with 15 points and 9 assists. No athletes like him on the GBR team. No athletes quite like him on any team.

GBR could not handle the USA’s ball pressure, and as the game wore on the hosts had 26 turnovers, which turned the end of the game into a Team USA dunking exhibition.

Which was fun, but the games against Spain and Argentina in Barcelona starting Sunday are far more interesting tests. Things like Kevin Love’s unimpressive defense in this game would take on a new tone in those contests.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.