Kurt Helin

Andrew Bogut’s left knee, injured in Finals, causes him to sit out Australia win over China

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Australia didn’t need Andrew Bogut on the court to beat China on Friday. They won’t need him to beat Venezuela in their final game of group play, either.

Which is good, because he needs a little time off to rest his left knee. Bogut suffered a bone bruise to the left knee during the NBA Finals when J.R. Smith ran into him (it was one of the turning points of the series).

Not surprisingly, that has flared up a little.

You can be sure Mark Cuban is in favor of this rest.

The Aussies can rest Bogut until next week, but they will want him for the knockout stage/medal rounds. With a win over Venezuela, Australia would come in second in its group to the USA, meaning they would be on the other side of the bracket and could avoid the Americans until the gold medal game (if they advance). Australia and Lithuania have looked like the two best teams in the tournament so far (outside of the USA), although both Spain and France have talented rosters and could put a run together.

Watch Stephen Curry nail halfcourt shot sitting down. Because he can.

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Knocking down long-range bombs while standing up is apparently getting too easy for Stephen Curry.

The Warriors’ guard was hosting his annual youth camp and knocked down this shot during it, without much effort, it seems.

Okay Kevin Durant, match that.

Consider this another reminder that a team with Curry, Durant, and Klay Thompson is going to be very, very difficult to guard on the perimeter next season.

Miami Heat owner writes letter to fans, expressing confidence

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Miami Heat managing general partner Micky Arison released an open letter to the team’s fans Thursday night, telling them he is confident they’ll enjoy the upcoming season.

The letter’s release on the Heat Twitter account came a few hours after the NBA schedule was released. It’ll be the first Heat schedule since 2002-03 without Dwyane Wade, who left Miami after 13 seasons and signed with the Chicago Bulls.

“Obviously, this has been a challenging summer … one with significant change,” Arison wrote. “For the first time in a long time, Dwyane Wade will not be part of our team, but it will be a joyous homecoming when we someday hang his No. 3 jersey from the rafters.”

Wade and the Bulls come to Miami only once this season, that being Nov. 10.

Arison wrote that in his 21 years leading the franchise, there have been the highs of three championships and the lows of playoff disappointments and the health issues that sidelined Alonzo Mourning and Chris Bosh.

“And so, as (Heat President) Pat Riley has said on numerous occasions, `One of the only things you can count on in life that is permanent is change,”‘ Arison wrote. “We need to understand and embrace change as part of sports; in fact, as a part of life.”

Arison added that the Heat culture will not change, and that he fully expects this season’s team to continue the franchise’s mantra of being “the hardest working, best conditioned, most professional, unselfish, toughest, meanest, nastiest team in the NBA.”

Miami opens the season Oct. 26 at Orlando. The home opener is two nights later against Charlotte, and Miami will carry a streak of 294 consecutive home sellouts into the season.

Report: Raptors in near deal to extend general manager Masai Ujiri

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Masai Ujiri has overseen the building of the best teams in Toronto Raptors history — last season they won a franchise record 56 games and reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time. Also, the core of that team is locked up for years to come. All that in the season the organization hosted its first ever All-Star Game. Things have never been better for the Raptors.

So extending the GM that put it all together makes sense, something that may happen soon according to Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Sources said the Raptors and Ujiri are nearing agreement on a lucrative new deal that will keep the 46-year-old in Canada for the foreseeable future, even though he still has nearly two years left on the original five-year, $15 million pact he signed with Toronto in May 2013.

There had been rumors that the Knicks and other teams may try to poach Ujiri, this extension makes that far less likely.

Smart move by Toronto. Remeber Ujiri came to the Raptors and turned them around, amazingly getting something more than a rack of shootaround basketballs back for Andrea Bargnani (thanks for the first round pick, Knicks), plus engineering the Rudy Gay trade. Ujiri deserves a lot of credit for where he’s gotten the Raptors (although how they might grow to challenge Cleveland is hard to see) and he deserves the new contract.

Tweet, tweet: US hoop team hearing whistles in Rio Games

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — When the U.S. Olympic team’s charter bus pulled up outside Flamengo Club before practice, police officers closed off the street and one of the motorcycle escorts jumped off his bike and immediately started blowing his whistle.

That’s been a familiar noise to the Americans in Rio.

Unbeaten but no longer unchallenged following a very physical, 98-88 win over Australia, the two-time defending gold medalists are still adjusting to FIBA’s rules and officials, who call a different game than the one U.S. players have grown accustomed to at home and in the NBA.

“It’s weird, actually,” U.S. forward Kevin Durant said when asked to describe the differences. “I can’t even explain it.”

With 10 first-time Olympians, America’s star-studded squad, 3-0 heading into Friday’s matchup against Serbia, is learning on the fly what’s a foul, what’s not, what they can get away with and what they can’t.

Right now, starting center DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t have a clue.

The Sacramento star might as well have bought a ticket and sat in the stands at Carioca Arena 1 for the past two games. Cousins played only eight minutes before fouling out of a 44-point win over Venezuela and he was limited to just 10 minutes against the Aussies after picking up three quick fouls in the first half and No. 4 in the third quarter.

The 6-foot-10 Cousins managed to score 6 points and grabbed eight rebounds during his brief outing against the Aussies, who didn’t back down against the world’s top-ranked team and may have bent the rules as far as possible with their aggressiveness. Cousins didn’t hide his displeasure about a couple calls that went against him, and angrily stormed to the bench where some of his teammates tried to calm him down and encourage him.

It’s nothing new to U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has seen Olympic rookies struggle to adjust to the nuances of international basketball. Every player has to deal with it, but sometimes big men are an easy target.

“First of all, you get frustrated,” Krzyzewski said. “You can’t get into a rhythm of playing. A couple of the times, they’re not fouls. They’re just not fouls. But early on in the game, people like to set a tone in how the game is administered. So sometimes, they set it in the post. And so something is called a little bit closer than it would be five minutes later. And I just told him, `You’re a human being. You should be frustrated. Let’s just move on to the next thing and see if we can handle that going forward, because we need you.’

“In the amount of minutes he’s been in there, he’s performed very well. We need him to play more.”

The Americans will need him against the Serbs, one of the tournament’s most physically imposing teams.

Despite the loss, Australia, which has never won an Olympic medal but has its sights on one in Brazil, showed it might be effective to push the Americans. The U.S. team was slow to push back and didn’t seal one of its closest wins in recent Olympics until the fourth quarter, when Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving carried the Americans in the final minutes.

It wasn’t as much a wake-up call to the U.S. players as a reminder that everyone in the field is aiming at them.

“It was a good test for us, we definitely needed that,” Durant said. “They challenged us. I know we were expected to win the game and expected to be perfect. But every time I have played for Team USA we’ve had those types of games. We went into overtime in Turkey against Brazil in 2010 and then were tied up with Lithuania with a minute to go in 2012. So you go through those games no matter what. We got the biggest spotlight and the biggest bulls-eye on our back.

“Everybody wants to beat us so there are going to be games like that.”

U.S. forward Paul George said he and his teammates may have gotten a little lax after blowouts over China and Venezuela. As he said after the Australia game, “It got real.”

“I think the biggest lesson was not being content with where we’re at,” he said. “We’ve been so great defensively and put up such huge margins of victory that the second they raised the level we kind of relaxed. We just got to stay consistent throughout the tournament.”

Krzyzewski is teaching his internationally inexperienced team – only Anthony and Durant are returnees from the London team – to watch their behavior when calls aren’t going their way. He has implored his players to show restraint so as not to make things worse.

“They’re not cheating us is what I tell the guys,” he said. “Don’t ever get into that. They’re not cheating us. We just have to react to it differently. Over 10 years ago, we all were saying, `We’re getting cheated.’ We’ve not bought into that for a decade and we’re not going to do it now.”