Anthony Davis is the Team USA human victory cigar. When you see him getting serious minutes, the game is in hand.
Expect to see a whole lot of Davis this week.
After a nice win over France to open the Olympics, Team USA enters the softer part of their schedule this week, starting with Tunisia on Tuesday. That is followed by Nigeria on Thursday then a decent Lithuania team on Saturday. (Things get more serious next week when it is Argentina to close out group play then the one-and-done medal tournament portion of the Games begins.)
Tunisia is the weakest team in the Olympic field. Give them some credit for making a push in the fourth quarter against Nigeria to make a game of their opener (they lost 60-56). Thing is, Nigeria is arguably the second worst team in the entire Olympics. As pointed out at The Painted Area blog, if Nigeria had this full roster (with Ike Diagu and Al-Farouq Aminu) at the AfroBasket qualifying tournament last summer Tunisia might not be at the games at all.
As for guys to watch, Tunisia has 7’1” center Salah Mejri who played for Utah in the just completed Orlando Summer League. He is a defensive specialist. And that’s as close as anybody on this roster has gotten to the NBA. As for guys to look for, we’re with Trey Kerby in wanting to see Jack Rebel Slims get in the game.
For Team USA, Tuesday is a chance to work on any sets or schemes you think need some polish. Want to practice playing some zone defense? Do it here. Ever wonder what a Deron Williams/Carmelo Anthony pick-and-roll looks like? Try it out now. Work out the kinks. Because once Team USA cranks up the defensive pressure this one will get ugly fast.
Just stay focused on the big picture and have some fun.
And get Anthony Davis some real run.
Former Knicks, Warriors F David Lee announces retirement from NBA
One of the NBA’s more under appreciated forwards has announced his retirement from the NBA.
David Lee, who spent time in his career with the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs, told the NBA world about his retirement via his Instagram page on Sunday.
Lee, 34, played last season with the Spurs. He averaged 7.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists for Gregg Popovich’s team.
Lee played 14 seasons in the NBA, the majority of which came with the Knicks. During his time in New York, Lee was seen as an unsung hero, nabbing rebounds and doing yeoman’s work from the power forward position.
The Knicks traded Lee to Golden State in the summer of 2010 for Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and two second round picks. He was part of the Warriors’ 2014-15 NBA Championship before eventually being traded to Boston in 2015.
Sixers say injured Markelle Fultz will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks
No doubt Sixers fans just want to see him on the court again as quickly as possible. The saga of the imbalanced shoulder has been a strange one, we’ve all got our fingers crossed that it settles normally.
Damian Lillard defends Blazers’ coach Terry Stotts on Instagram
It’s far too early for panic in Portland. This is a team most outside Portland thought would finish a little above .500 and maybe grab one of the back-end playoff spots in the West, and at 9-7 they are on that pace.
But after an ugly Portland loss to Sacramento (just a few games after a loss to Brooklyn where coach Terry Stotts benched center Jusuf Nurkick for most of the fourth), Trail Blazers fans were restless and started to slam coach Stotts on the Trail Blazers’ Instagram page.
I doubt Stotts noticed, but Damian Lillard did and jumped in to defend his coach.
“Because people think they know more about what it takes to get things done at this level … For our team than they actually do,” he said. “We’re in this position for a reason. And coach Stotts had two 50-win seasons here and four straight years in the playoffs for a reason –because he knows what he’s doing. They mention … our record is 8-7 and we’re having breakdowns late in games. Well those breakdowns are a missed shot here, a turnover there, a defensive breakdown here, giving up extra possessions, missed free throws. It’s things that players control. If we were down 30 every game, that’s different. But we’re in position to win games. And when it’s time to win games, that’s the players’ job. “
Lillard is loyal to those around him and has had the back of teammates and his coach before.
Lillard and his teammates went out Saturday night and got some revenge on the Kings, winning 102-90.
Portland’s defense has been surprisingly good this season, second best in the NBA. It should have been better with Nurkic in the paint, but this has been a radical turnaround for a team where that end of the floor held them back in recent years. While that lofty ranking may not stick all season, the Blazers are defending.
Now the Blazers are just having trouble scoring efficiently (18th in the NBA), which is a little about a less-efficient Lillard and a rough start on that end for Nurkic. That end of the court should come around, Lillard and C.J. McCollum are too good for it not to.
Teammate spoke to Lonzo Ball about walking away from “fight”
We see these posturing/shoving matches all the time in the NBA, and they’re pointless. Late in Friday night’s Phoenix win in Los Angeles the Suns called a timeout, then Tyler Ulis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got in one a shoving match. As happens, players from both teams raced into the fray to protect their teammate/break it up… except for Lonzo Ball, who looked at it and kept moving along.
I have defended Ball’s actions as mature (he’s right, nothing was going to happen), while others (fans and media) have questioned his leadership for not rushing to stand by teammates, pull guys out of the pile, and having a “band of brothers” attitude.
None of that matters, the only opinions that carry any weight are the ones in the Lakers’ locker room. What did his teammates think? Lakers coach Luke Walton said a teammate did talk to Ball, quote via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
“Someone on our team talked with him,” Walton said after the Lakers’ practice Saturday, without disclosing who it was. “It’s all part of the learning process.”
If his teammates were bothered, then there’s an issue. It’s more about perception than anything, again nothing was happening in that “fight,” but perception matters. It’s a small issue, but an issue. With young players this gets discussed, and everyone moves on.
Ball’s passing and energy on the court are things teammates love. As his game matures — and he eventually finishes better around the rim and, hopefully for him, finds his jumper — and he grows as a bigger threat on the court, his teammates will forget this ever happened. As will fans. But when you play for the rabid (and not always rational) fan base of the Lakers, and when your father invites publicity and with it scrutiny, things get blown out of proportion. Welcome to Lonzo’s world.