Dan Feldman

Venezuela's Nestor Colmenares (43) drives to the basket pat China's Sui Ran (5) and Yi Jianlian (11) during a men's basketball game at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Venezuela outlasts China in men’s basketball

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Venezuela men’s basketball coach Néstor García smacked his forehead, grimaced and paced – unable to believe his team’s foolishness.

Fortunately for the Venezuelans, they survived it in a 72-68 win over China on Wednesday.

Up four with 3.8 seconds left, Nestor Colmenares – who led Venezuela with 16 points and five rebounds and added four assists – fouled Zhou Peng on a 3-point attempt. With a narrow path to victory opened by Colmenares’ blunder, Peng missed the shot. That effectively ended the chance at a hard-fought comeback after Venezuela built a 25-10 first-quarter lead.

This was probably just a matchup to determine the order of fifth and sixth in the six-team Group A – a hallow accomplishment. Just the pool’s top four teams advance.

But Venezuela still gets the pride of an Olympic victory. The next step is beating another nation. Venezuela, which also qualified for the 1992 Games, is now 3-0 against China and 0-7 against everyone else.

Yi Jianlian scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead China, which has now lost 10 straight Olympic games dating back to 2008.

After opting out of Nets contract, Shane Larkin signs in Spain

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13:   Delon Wright #55 of the Toronto Raptors guards Shane Larkin #0 of the Brooklyn Nets during their game at the Barclays Center on April 13, 2016 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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Shane Larkin opted out of a contract that would’ve paid him $1.5 million next season.

I thought he’d get a small raise, but he was undoubtedly taking a risk.

It doesn’t appear it will pay off.

Euroleague.net:

Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz has found a new point guard, Shane Larkin

In a market favorable to backup point guards, I’m surprised Larkin couldn’t find an NBA job.

He has shown flashes, looked far better as a distributor and outside shooter last year and is just 23. The Nets might a poor excuse for an NBA team, but he ranked fifth on Brooklyn in minutes and started 17 games.

Nobody wanted him as a third point guard?

Maybe it’s his hands.

Paul George: Team USA had to match physicality of ‘dirty’ Australia

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10:  Matthew Dellavedova #8 of Australia goes to the basket against Paul George #13 of United States during the Men's Preliminary Round Group A between Australia and the United States on Day 5 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Phil Walter/Getty Images
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Team USA earned a hard-fought win over Australia today.

A key?

Paul George on Australia, via Tony Harper of Fox Sports:

“We knew that coming in – this team has a knack for being a little dirty.”

“We just had to match their physicality,” said George. “That’s what we had to do. That’s the only way a team is going to get us out of our comfort zone is to muddy the game, doing little stuff to get to us.”

A team with Mathew Dellavedova and Andrew Bogut dirty? Why, I never.

George helped set the tone early by getting into a stare-down with Dellavedova, but Delly didn’t flinch, either. Both teams brought it in the showdown of undefeateds.

Were the Australians actually dirty? I say they were more unforgiving than dirty.

Of course, they’d agree. Harper:

Boomers legend and now assistant coach Luc Longley fired back in response: “Tell ‘em that’s international basketball.’’

There’s definitely more allowable contact in international play, and Australia took full advantage. Team USA responded enough in kind to allow its talent advantage to win out.

Team USA survives scare from Australia thanks to Carmelo Anthony

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of United States drives the ball against David Andersen #13 of Australia during a Preliminary Round Basketball game between Australia and the United States on Day 5 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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Carmelo Anthony had a front-row seat – and nothing more – to Team USA’s last Olympic defeat.

After a DNP-CD during the Americans’ infamous loss to Argentina in 2004, Anthony has grown into the face of USA Basketball.

It paid off today.

Anthony scored 31 points to lead Team USA to a 98-88 win over Australia, a game much more closely contested than the final score indicates. The Americans trailed in the fourth quarter and by eight earlier in the game before pulling away for their 20th straight Olympic win.

This was the first time Team USA trailed at halftime (by five) during the streak. Even with the misleadingly narrow final margin, it was the fifth-closest victory during the streak. The narrowest wins:

  • Lithuania by five in 2012
  • Spain by seven in 2012
  • Lithuania by eight in 2004
  • Spain by nine in 2008
  • Australia by 10 in 2016

Team USA (3-0) is now the lone undefeated team in Group A and can feel better about its chances of a third straight gold medal. Instead of miserable questions about losing, the key queries now:

Did Australia sandbag? Is Australia, which beat medal-favorite France by 21, the second-best team in Rio?

Regardless of the answers, Team USA is in good shape. At this point, it’s about evaluating just how good of shape. You have to feel confident when your close calls end in double-digit wins.

The Americans can thank Anthony for their comfortable standing.

Anthony repeatedly exploited a matchup advantage by playing power forward against two-big Australia, taking his larger defender – usually Aron Baynes – beyond the arc. Not only did Anthony make 9-of-15 3-pointers, he held his own down low, grabbing eight rebounds.

“He’s our rock,” said Kyrie Irving, who scored 19 points and came up big as Team USA pulled away in the fourth quarter. “So, he’s going to hold us down, and I expect him to do that. We have a lot of faith in him.”

Beyond Anthony and Irving late, not much went well for the Americans.

After playing no NBA players in wins over China and Venezuela, Team USA faced a team starting five NBA players (Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Baynes and Andrew Bogut).

The difference showed.

Mills led Australia with 30 points. Bogut (15 points on 7-of-9 shooting with three blocks) had burst of awesomeness. Dellavedova (11 points and 11 assists) dictated an effective attack. Australian captain David Anderson (13 points on 4-of-5 3-point shooting) played out of his mind.

Maybe Australia was unsustainably hot, but the Americans’ talent gap should have given them more margin for error. Team USA’s uneven offense didn’t.

The U.S. isolated too much, the Warriors wings – Kevin Durant (4-for-16) and Klay Thompson (2-for-9) – notable offenders.

But there’s a reason the Americans’ flaws won’t get overly dissected before their next game – Friday against Serbia.

Carmelo Anthony, in the latest act of a distinguished international career, rescued them from disaster.

Carmelo Anthony passes LeBron James for all-time American Olympic scoring record

Fans reach out to United States' Carmelo Anthony, right, as he enters the arena for a men's basketball game against Australia at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
AP Photo/Eric Gay
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Carmelo Anthony, bound to claim the USA Basketball record for all-time points in the Olympics, didn’t need long.

After passing Michael Jordan for third in the Americans’ last game, Anthony broke LeBron James‘ mark in a surprisingly tight first quarter against Australia today.

Anthony got hot from beyond the arc as a stretch four against Australia’s bigs (Aron Baynes and Andrew Bogut), scoring 14 points on 4-of-5 3-point shooting in the opening period. That gave Anthony 276 all-time Olympic points.

The American leaderboard for Olympic points:

1. Carmelo Anthony (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016): 276

2. LeBron James (2004, 2008, 2012): 273

3. David Robinson (1988, 1992, 1996): 270

4. Michael Jordan (1984, 1992): 256

You can watch Team USA try to fend off Australia and Anthony try to extend his record on NBC Sports Network or online here.