Andre Iguodala, Mohamed Hadidane

USA handily beats Tunisia but doesn’t earn many style points

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Every time the 2012 Team USA steps on the court they face two opponents. First, it’s the team lined up in the other colored jerseys. Second, there is the USA Basketball legacy — the 1960 team of West and Robertson, the Dream Team and beyond — and how they measure up.

Team USA beat Tunisia 110-63 thanks to a monster 39 point third quarter Thursday at the London Olympics. The USA is now the only 2-0 in Group A play and controls their own destiny.

But in the style-points battle with legacy the Dream Team and history got the win. Not that this current team really cares much about it, but games like this give their doubters (in terms of this team’s legacy) fuel.

That’s because Team USA started out with some lethargic play and struggled in the first half to put away a vastly inferior Tunisian team. Tunisia opened the game up 8-4 and had a 13-12 lead more than seven minutes into contest. It happened in part because USA again was cold from the outside —they started 0-8 from three. And the USA’s defense was passive. This was a Tunisian team that scored 15 points in the entire first half against Nigeria and equaled that inside eight minutes against USA.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski had seen enough, subbed out all five starters at once (hockey style) late in the first to try and change defensive energy. It worked. The USA went on a 12-0 run. In fact it worked so well that Coach K started that unit for the second half.

Let’s give some credit to Tunisia — they are feisty and hung around. They actually got the lead down to five in the second quarter before USA went on 11-0 run. USA was up 46-33 at the half — it was the least impressive 13-point lead in the history of basketball.

Team USA’s second unit started the second half on a 23-3 run and the USA made a run at the 54-point spread that Las Vegas had on the game. Team USA shot 15-of-18 in the third quarter, they were 10-of-17 from three after the first quarter and blew the game wide open. That included Anthony Davis getting lob after lob for dunks from teammates.

The USA outscored Tunisia by 34 in the second half and the rout we all expected was on.

The only scary moment of the second half was when Kevin Love drove the lane and had some knee-on-knee contact with a Tunisian big man, which had Love limping to the sidelines. However, it was more of a just a bruise, he was moving fine a few minutes later and when Anthony Davis had a beautiful dunk he was leaping out of his seat cheering like he was just fine. He returned to the game in the fourth quarter.

Tunisia was led by Macram Ben Romdhane who had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists.

The USA had six guys in double figures with Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love leading the way with 16 points. Anthony Davis had 12 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting night.

It ended up being a laugher and the USA got the win they expected. It may not have lived up to the impossible standards of how we view the Dream Team through rose-colored glasses, but that doesn’t really matter in the end. This team will let the old guys have the win on style points and they will take this one, which moves them one step closer to their goal of a gold medal.

Next up for the USA is a slightly tougher test against Nigeria on Thursday. But only slightly.

Report: Celtics, Cavaliers talking Kevin Love trade; could include Knicks, ‘Melo

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love holds the ball away from Boston Celtics' Amir Johnson during the second quarter of a NBA basketball game in Boston Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Associated Press
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The Celtics are looking for an elite player to improve their deep cast of role players. The Cavaliers are looking for depth. And Carmelo Anthony may just be looking to win.

All of that has talks between the Cavaliers and Celtics on a potential Love deal progressing, with the possibility of the Knicks as a third team also in the mix, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.

The Daily News has learned that the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers have discussed a blockbuster trade centered around Kevin Love. There were very preliminary discussions about expanding the deal to include the Knicks and Anthony, who would have to waive his no-trade clause in order to facilitate a deal to the Cavs.

The Knicks would receive draft picks and players in return. One of those players is believed to be Timofey Mozgov, who five years ago was traded by the Knicks to Denver in the Anthony deal.

This is a longshot, but the report has some legs.

It’s not clear how far along these talks are. The trade deadline is Feb. 18 (next Thursday) and conversations tend to move past the theoretical/value judging phase and get real come All-Star Weekend, when many GMs and decision makers are in one place (and nobody can go outside because it is too cold in Toronto). This trade works for the Cavaliers if they get a quality stretch four in return — Kelly Olynyk? — plus some depth and a quality pick. The question for the Cavs is simply how much can they get back — this is a win-now team and Love helps that, so how does a trade make them better?

Would Danny Ainge move the unprotected Brooklyn Nets pick to get Love? Jae Crowder? How much would Boston surrender to get an elite star, especially one under a reasonable, long contract?

Carmelo Anthony wants a ring, if he could end up playing with LeBron and be much closer to it than he is now, he would waive his no-trade clause.

That said, this trade sounds like a longshot. At least at the deadline. Next Summer… who knows?

Watch Kevin Hart be Kevin Hart at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

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Kevin Hart has a movie to promote decided to come out of retirement to play in the NBA All-Star Friday Night Celebrity Game.

And, he did what Kevin Hart does.

Well, except win MVP of the game, that went to Win Butler (the Canadian lead singer of Arcade Fire). Butler led Canada to a 74-63 win over Hart and the USA.

Drake to introduce players for All-Star Game Sunday

Drake stands in front of Canada's bench before the Celebrity Game, part of NBA basketball's All-Star weekend, in Toronto on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
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You knew Canadian hip-hop star Drake was going to be involved directly in the All-Star Game in a way more than just having his back-and-gold OVO owl gear sold at the Air Canada Centre. Now we know how.

Drake will introduce the NBA All-Star players Sunday.

Drake has experience with this, he has introduced the Raptors — for whom he is a “global ambassador” — before.

This works for me. However, just to be clear, Drake is going to be introducing the players and Sting will headline the halftime show Sunday. Because nothing says NBA and millennials like “Fields of Gold.”

LeBron James says he’s undecided on 2016 Rio Olympics

US forward LeBron James celebrates after
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TORONTO — LeBron James has played in three Olympics, won two gold medals (and a bronze), and has done his duty representing his country internationally.

But it’s why he might skip this summer’s Rio Olympics that turned heads in the last couple days — he is reportedly pissed that Kobe Bryant will not be making his farewell with another gold on the international stage.

As you might expect, LeBron was asked about that during All-Star media day Friday in Toronto. Also, as you might expect, he dodged the question, saying he doesn’t know what he’s going to do this summer.

“Well, for me, I haven’t quite decided if I’m on the fence of going or not,” LeBron said. “But I’ve always loved representing my country. I’ve been playing in the Olympic games since 2004. So, no, I haven’t made a decision yet.”

My guess is LeBron’s body would love him to take the summer off — he’s played in five straight Finals with an Olympics in that mix — but his brand managers (and Nike) would love to see him play.

With him, the USA will win a gold medal. Without him, the USA will win the gold medal. The Americans are clear and away the best team in the world and only they can beat themselves. LeBron’s leadership can help make sure that happens, but it’s not required.

In the end, LeBron needs to do what’s required to bring a championship “to the ‘Land.” The playoffs, and how he feels after them, will likely determine where LeBron is in early August more than anything else.