Kurt Helin

Australian Boomers v New Zealand Tall Blacks - Game 1

Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills not impressed with New Zealand Haka dance (VIDEO)

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It is more impressive when New Zealand’s rugby team does it.

Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova – two guys who went hard just a couple of months back on opposite sides of the NBA Finals — stood arm-in-arm with Patty Mills and the rest of their Australian teammates and were unimpressed with the native Haka dance the All Blacks did before their match Saturday.

Australia and New Zealand are playing a two-game series for the championship of FIBA’s Oceana region — the winner qualifies for the 2016 Olympics (joining the USA and Brazil as locked in the 12-team tournament).

Dellavedova helped settle a nervous home Australian team down in the second quarter on his way to 15 points on the night. Mills was making plays late and had 17 for the game. Australia won 71-59.

Game 2 of the series is Tuesday in New Zealand and it is scored in aggregate — if Australia wins or loses by 11 points or fewer they will advance to the Olympics.

Hat tip Eye on Basketball.

Watch top 100 plays from last NBA season

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What else are you going to do on an August Sunday? I mean, besides going out in the sun or spending time with friends and family.

Here is more than 20 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by our fine friends at NBA.com.

Giannis Antetokounmpo drops 13 points in 14 minutes for Greece (VIDEO)

Milwaukee Bucks v Indiana Pacers
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EuroBasket tips off in a couple of weeks, and for NBA teams that can be a double-edged sword. On one side, there is the risk of injury (different international event, but think Dante Exum).

On the other side, for guys that could use more development, it’s a chance to get on the court and play at a relatively high level of competition, with good coaching.

The Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is trying to take advantage of the latter. In a friendly against Bosnia, the Greek dropped 13 points in just 14 minutes of action. He had three rebounds and three blocks as well. Since I’m guessing you didn’t stream this live, above are some highlights.

Hat tip Sportando.

 

Kobe Bryant brings D’Angelo Russell around on who is the GOAT

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
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From the first moments after the Los Angeles Lakers took him with the No. 2 pick, D’Angelo Russell has been singing the praises of Kobe Bryant. But Kobe is not his only idol, and Russell tweeted out this:

You knew Kobe wasn’t going to let that slide.

It took all of six minutes for Russell to start backpedaling.

Kobe let the rookie off the hook. At least in public.

Shock the world? For the Lakers that would be making the playoffs with this roster.

Flip Saunders counting on Kevin Garnett, Tayshaun Prince to change Timberwolves defense

Kevin Garnett
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Last season, the Timberwolves were the worst defensive team in the NBA. By far. They allowed 109.6 points per 100 possessions, which was more than six per 100 worse than the league average. If Minnesota is going to take a step forward next season, that is the obvious area for improvement (although their 26th ranked offense could use some help, too). Minnesota has a long ways to go.

More than just talent, coach Flip Saunders is counting on a veteran presence to change the Timberwolves defense around.

He tweeted as much Friday.

That doesn’t hurt. Kevin Garnett can still quarterback a defense, even if his reactions to what he recognizes are now a step slow. Tayshaun Prince still knows how to defend on the perimeter.

I can see Prince helping mentor Andrew Wiggins. I can see KG helping Karl-Anthony Townes understand how to recognize what is coming and protect the rim.

Defense at the NBA level starts with simple effort — not every team, not every player gives it. If the veterans on the Timberwolves help install a real work ethic on that end, it would be a big start.

But just a start. Minnesota has a long way to go.