Anthony Davis, Teemu Rannikko

USA cruises past Finland in World Cup opener, 114-55


Well, the crowd from Finland was impressive — roughly 8,000 Finnish fans cheering on their team.

But it gets really quiet when 8,000 people go silent.

That happened in the second quarter when Finland shot 0-of-17 from the floor and the USA won the quarter 29-2 on their way to the expected thrashing of Finland in both team’s World Cup openers, 114-55. The USA shot 58.9 percent for the game, compared to 27.7 percent for Finland, which could not deal with the American’s defensive pressure.

Next up for the USA is Turkey on Sunday (ESPN 3:30 pm). That’s a rematch of the 2010 World Championship finals, but Turkey is a shell of that former team.

Saturday Klay Thompson scored 18 points and Anthony Davis had 17 to lead the USA. Every USA player got double-digit minutes and scored. DeMarcus Cousins came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds.

Among the bright spots for the USA was Derrick Rose looked the best he has since the Chicago exhibition game, scoring 12 points and having a couple vintage Rose drives. Rudy Gay also added 10 points.

FIBA is the world’s 39th ranked team and the lowest ranked team ever to get invited to the World Cup via a FIBA “wild card” invite. It showed on the court as the team started 0-of-13 from three and were down 31-16 after the first quarter — and that was Finland’s best quarter.

Finland is here because their fans travel well (good gate revenue for FIBA) and because Finnish company Rovio— you know them as the maker of the Angry Birds game, — offered FIBA free advertising. FIBA likes its money.

The fans seemed to enjoy themselves… for a quarter, anyway.

For the USA this was a nice start, but things get a little more serious on Sunday, against Omer Asik and the rest of the Turkish team. That still should be a comfortable USA win, but not quite Finland comfortable.

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

LeBron James
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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.

Rumor: Nets testing trade waters for Bojan Bogdanovic

Bojan Bogdanovic, Otto Porter Jr.
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If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.

First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.

Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.

Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.

Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.

Just a reminder that Joakim Noah would like some more run

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Joakim Noah is playing 20.6 minutes a night coming off the bench for Fred Hoiberg and the Chicago Bulls this season.

And he doesn’t like it. He wants more run. He was getting 10 minutes more a night last season under Tom Thibodeau, and Noah wants some of those minutes back. Nick Friedel of ESPN sent out a tweet that was a reminder of just that.

Three thoughts here.

1) Reducing minutes for guys who battle injuries every season by the time the playoffs roll around was one huge reason Fred Hoiberg was brought in to coach the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau was shown the door. This isn’t just Hoiberg, the minutes reduction comes from management. While it is possible Noah’s spot in the rotation shifts (he could start at some point) and he might get a little more run, the Thibodeau era is gone.

2) There are legit reasons for Noah to want to play. First, he is a competitor who doesn’t like sitting. Second, the Bulls’ defense is elite when he plays (allowing 95.5 points per 100 possessions) and the Bulls outscore opponents by 1.3 per 100 when he plays. Finally, Noah is in the final year of his contract and scoring just 3.1 points per game is not going to help him earn more cash in the next deal.

3) Barring injury to another big, don’t expect a change.