Puerto Rico's Jose Barea goes for a basket against Brazil during their FIBA Americas Championship basketball game in Caracas

FIBA Americas Tournament schedule continues with Canada vs. Puerto Rico

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Friday’s action was fine at the FIBA Americas tournament down in Venezuala, but Saturday’s games should offer a bit more intrigue. Four of the top five teams will be in action in the second day of round-robin play, featuring an interesting matchup of Canada against Puerto Rico.

Both teams take 1-0 records into the first weekend of the FIBA World Cup qualifier and should likely finish as one of the top four teams by the time the championship rolls around on September 11, thereby ensuring themselves a spot at next year’s 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament. Canada’s a bit heavier on current NBA players, but Puerto Rico’s roster features enough recognizable names to make this a fun game for NBA fans to watch (and they can live and for free, too, as long as ESPN3 is an option).

Canada was dominant in their victory over Jamaica on Friday, but San Antonio Spurs point guard Cory Joseph was the only Canadian NBA player to really assert himself on the offensive end. Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson had a solidly unspectacular game with 11 points and 12 rebounds, but Orlando Magic forward Andrew Nicholson (seven points, four boards) and Miami Heat center Joel Anthony (six points, one board) weren’t even really solid when it came to playing on offense. Canada already lacks quite a bit of firepower — Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Kelly Olynyk aren’t participating in the tournament — so it’ll be key that the ancillary NBAers step up against a more talented Puerto Rican squad.

Puerto Rico faced a tougher test on Friday when they matched up with a talented Brazil team, but former Knicks forward Renaldo Balkman carried his team to victory with 24 points and eight rebounds. The other names NBA fans are likely familiar with weren’t as impressive, however, as it took 11 shots for Minnesota Timberwolves gaurd J.J. Barea to get his 12 points and NBA journeyman Carlos Arroyo made just two of his nine attempts to finish with seven points. Ricky Sanchez, currently property of the Miami Heat, picked up four points, rebounds and fouls apiece after getting the starting nod.

Saturday’s other game to keep an eye on will happen right after Canada-Puerto Rico when the Dominican Republic’s squad takes the court against Argentina. Luis Scola’s Argentinean team essentially was gifted a bye with Paraguay on Friday (the 95-60 outcome was not as close as it appears), but the Dominican squad should pose a bit more of a challenge. Al Horford opted out of playing this year, but have no fear because Jack Michael Martinez is still here. Martinez has never played in the NBA, but his official mug shot looks like this and he’s averaging a solid 14.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in international competition since 2001.

Saturday’s other games feature Uruguay vs. Jamaica and the hosting Venezuela taking on Paraguay in the nightcap.

The day’s full schedule, converted to Eastern time, is included below for your convenience.

11:30 a.m. – Uruguay (0-0) vs. Jamaica (0-1)

2 p.m. – Canada (1-0) vs. Puerto Rico (1-0)

5:30 p.m. – Dominican Republic (0-0) vs. Argentina (1-0)

8 p.m. – Paraguay (0-1) vs. Venezuela (0-1)

Jimmer Fredette scores 37 in D-League debut while Floyd Mayweather watches

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You can’t make this stuff up.

After being cut by the Spurs during training camp, Jimmer Fredette decided to stay stateside and play in the D-League, looking for a way back into and another chance in the NBA (the banged up Pelicans picked him up for four games but released him again). Fredette put up impressive numbers in his debut with the Westchester Knicks (the New York Knicks affiliate), scoring 37 points on 12-of-17 shooting, hitting a couple of threes and getting to the line a dozen times.

All while boxer Floyd Mayweather looked on from courtside (Mayweather was there to see buddy Jordan Crawford).

If Fredette keeps putting up numbers, maybe he gets a call up. But nothing is seriously going to change for Fredette unless his defense improves markedly — that has always been the big problem, and not always one exploited the same way in the D-League. He is on the low end of the athleticism scale for the NBA (not college) and that has led teams to just target him when he comes in games. There is no mercy in the NBA, and Fredette has been the gazelle outside the herd that becomes the clear target.

But he’s had a good D-League game, it’s a start on a road back.

Pelicans’ Tyreke Evans says he returns to lineup Tuesday

Tyreke Evans
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The Pelicans have needed this.

There is not one simple reason the Pelicans stumbled out of the gate this season and might as well be booking late April tee times now (they will not recover and make the playoffs). It’s a combination of issues. But at the top of any list needs to be injuries, and specifically the injury to Tyreke Evans, who had his knee scoped back in training camp.

Evans will suit up for the Pelicans Tuesday. This had been rumored for a while, but Evans himself confirmed it on Instagram.

Gm lets get it I'm not a hundred percent but happy to play today first game back #beastmode #takeflightshow

A photo posted by Tyreke Evans (@tyrekeevans) on

The Pelicans desperately need his shot creation. Anthony Davis is an unquestionable beast, but he’s not a guy you can just throw the rock to and watch him create for himself and others out on the wing. Jrue Holiday can’t really do that either. The Pelicans have looked better with Ish Smith at the point of late because he can create a little thanks to his quickness.

Evans is better at this than anyone else they have. Getting him back in the mix helps.

Norris Cole, who played fantastically for the Pelicans last season, also is expected to return to the rotation tonight.

With those two back and the team starting to find a groove, they can become respectable to dangerous. But I just can’t see them climbing out of the hole they are in and find a way into the playoffs.


Luke Walton is NBA Coach of the Month despite zero official wins

Luke Walton
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If you were going to name the Western Conference Coach of the Month for November, there was only one choice to make — the coach of the undefeated Golden State Warriors.

So congratulations Steve Kerr, since he gets the credit for those 19 and counting wins… er, wait.

The NBA announced it has given November Coach of the Month award to Luke Walton, the interim Warriors’ coach who has guided the team while Kerr is recovering from back surgery. The league also announced Cavaliers’ coach David Blatt as the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month.

As the NBA explained earlier in the day, they see the Warriors as still Kerr’s team — he was the architect who put in the systems and built the foundation, while Walton is just living in the house for a while. Walton is a housesitter. So the fact the team was undefeated under Walton is moot, he gets no credit for the wins, they all go on Kerr’s resume. But Walton can win the Coach of the Month award for guiding the Warriors with their league-best point differential of 15.4 points per game.

This was expected, but now it is official.

He could win it again for December, unless Steve Kerr decides to come back

Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan tied NBA record with 22 missed free throws Monday

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DeAndre Jordan tied his personal best with 12 made free throws Monday night against the Trail Blazers.

But that’s not what anybody is talking about with Jordan’s trips to the free throw line Tuesday.

So you don’t have to do the math yourself, Jordan hit just 35.3 percent of his free throws. When the Clippers pulled away with a mini-run in the fourth quarter, Blazers coach Terry Stotts responded with hack-a-Jordan, and Doc Rivers refused to take him out. The result was nine intentional fouls and trips to the free throw line in less than two minutes.

It was ugly to watch.

The purist’s answer here is “if he hits his free throws this never happens, so learn to shoot them.” That’s the camp Adam Silver is in, and it’s his voice (and that of the other owners) that matters. There is no appetite around the league to change the rule, even though more and more players are being subjected to it.

I would argue that fouling intentionally off the ball in the first place is outside the spirit of the game — it’s not playing basketball — and unsportsmanlike. I think it’s bad for the sport, much worse than missed free throws and a dragged out game. I would like to see any time there is an off-the-ball foul the aggrieved team having a choice of free throws or the ball out-of-bounds.

But I’m in the minority. The rule isn’t changing soon. Which means Jordan — or Dwight Howard or Rajon Rondo or someone — is going to get the chance to set a new free throw futility mark soon. That will be fun to watch.