Author: Kurt Helin

Dario Saric

FIBA Day 2 wrap up: Sixers’ Dario Saric looks good teeth or no


The FIBA World Cup is in the group play stage, but you’re probably choosing to spend your time watching College Football. We get that. Which is why we’re here to give you a wrap up of the games you didn’t watch today.

• Team USA couldn’t coast on Day 2. A veteran Turkish team (eight of their players were on the 2010 team that went to the World Championship final) came in with a plan — play zone, foul when the USA was trying to get out on the fast break, and just make the game ugly. It worked for a half because the Turks were nailing threes, plus the USA contributed by committing a lot of fouls (and the refs helping on a few). Turkey led But in the second half Anthony Davis started to come alive (19 points) and Kenneth Farried was a scoring machine on his way to a team best 22 points on 11-of-14 shooting and that was enough. The USA pulled away for a 98-77 win. (By the way, Derrick Rose didn’t look great on the back-to-back, for those keeping score of such things.)

• The Philadelphia 76ers traded for Dario Saric (the No. 12 pick in last June’s draft) in part because he has potential as a point forward and in part because they knew he would play overseas for a couple years to develop, all part of their “be bad now and accumulate assets” plan. We saw the Croatian’s potential Sunday — an elbow from Argentina’s Andres Nocioni (you expected someone else?) knocked out a couple of Saric’s teeth but he kept on playing and finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds. He moves well for a big and has skills, there is legit potential there. Saric and Croatia picked up a key win 90-85 in the game thanks to Saric and the Nets’ incoming rookie Bojan Bogdanovic who had 19 points (3-for-6 from three). Luis Scola had 30 for Argentina in a losing effort.

• France bounced back from a rough loss to Argentina by coming back from 11 points down against Serbia to win 74-73 on Joffrey Lauvergne’s free throws with 1.1 seconds left. He was fouled by Serbia’s Miroslav Raduljica — the guy the Clippers just traded for a cut to save money, a guy who is a free agent and had another nice game with 21 points and 7 rebounds. Somebody should give the 7 footer a chance.

• Goran Dragic had 18 points and his brother Zoran Dragic added 22 points — and combined they were 14-of-16 shooting — to lead Serbia to an easy 89-68 win over Mexico.

• Senegal looks like it could make the knockout stage (finishing in the top four in Group B) after an 82-75 win over Puerto Rico. They can thank Gorgui Dieng who had 18 points and 13 rebounds, plus a couple of blocks.

• In other games on Sunday: Brazil beat Iran 79-50; host Spain had another easy win, 91-54 over Egypt (Serge Ibaka played and had 18 and 8); Greece beat the Philippines 82-70; the Dominican Republic bested New Zealand 76-63; Finland picked up a nice win over Ukraine 81-76; Australia thumped Korea 89-55; and Lithuania dismissed Angola 75-62.

James Harden’s four-point play vs. Turkey (VIDEO)

James Harden

I’m generally not a fan of the PUJIT (pull up jumper in transition) but it works here for James Harden late in Team USA’s win over Turkey on Sunday.

For you kids at home, that is not how you close out on a three-point shooter (take shorter steps as you get close to the shooter to slow your momentum, sometimes move to the shooting hand side, or the side your coach prefers to force the shooter to help, usually forcing him baseline). What you don’t do is extend your arm into his chest and run into him.

James Harden’s day wasn’t perfect by far (we’ll get to that) but he finished with 14 points on seven shots as Team USA got the win.

Report: Hawks in talks to bring back Elton Brand to round out roster

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets

Elton Brand said after last season he wanted to play a 16th season in the NBA, and he may get that.

Last season in Atlanta Brand was thrust into a larger-than-expected role when Al Horford went down and he played solidly, particularly on defense where he was key. He didn’t put up big numbers (5.7 points and 4.9 rebounds a game) but he was efficient (.561 true shooting percentage). That said, against Indiana in the first round of the playoffs the Hawks went small (wisely) trying to space the floor and Brand’s role shrunk.

That was good enough for the Hawks to consider bringing him back, reports Chris Vivlamore at the Atlanta Journal Constitution (via Eye on Basketball).

The Hawks could add a 15th player before the start of training camp next month. They are in negotiations with unrestricted center Elton Brand, who played last season with the team.

It’s not a signing that really moves the needle either way, but if this is a veteran minimum deal and Brand is used as he was at the start of last season — which is to say, sparingly, only in certain match ups — then this is a solid pickup. Brand would be good in the locker room and can still do some things on the court, you just don’t want to lean on him like the Hawks had to last season (he started 15 games).

It’s something to watch, but it would not be a bad get for the Hawks.

World Cup Day 1 roundup: Brazil with big win, Andray Blatche puts on a show

Raul Togni Neto, Nicolas Batum

The FIBA World Cup tipped-off on Saturday in Spain with a dozen games. Since it’s Labor Day weekend and all and you have barbecues to attend and beers to drink, we put together a quick recap for you.

• The USA’s defense forced Finland into a 0-of-17 shooting performance in the second quarter, a quarter the USA won 29-2. From there the USA went on to eek out a 114-55 win. Klay Thompson had 18 points, Anthony Davis 17 and Derrick Rose looked impressive throwing up a dozen. Finland had a loud and large crowd on hand, which was nice.

• Brazil picked up a key win over France 65-63 in a battle of two potential medal teams (both in Group A this round). Brazil trailed in the second quarter of a sloppy game until point guard Marcelo Huertas poured in 11 of his 16 points on the night to fuel the Brazilian comeback and give them a two point lead at the half, a lead they were able to maintain in the second half. Boris Diaw led France with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, and he had a three-point shot at the final buzzer to try to win it but Anderson Varejao of Brazil got the block. This was a game littered with NBA players but Evan Fournier (Magic) barely played and Nene (Wizards) was 2-of-6 shooting with four turnovers in what was often a sloppy game.

• As you would expect Spain had little trouble with Iran, winning 90-60. The real news here was that Serge Ibaka did not play for Spain due to a hamstring injury. We will monitor this going forward, but remember Ibaka battled a calf injury in the NBA playoffs last year.

• Andray Blatche had a monster game for the Philippines — 28 points (despite a 1-of-9 shooting start when he was settling for jumpers) and 12 rebounds. Blatche, still an NBA free agent, was faking three pointers and driving past Croatian big men when they bit, getting into the lane and generally finding all sorts of room to operate and put on a show. It wasn’t enough. The Brooklyn Nets new forward Bojan Bogdanovic scored 26 points leading Croatia to a 81-78 overtime victory.

• Argentina had little trouble with Puerto Rico winning 98-75 behind 20 points and 9 rebounds from Luis Scola, plus 10 assists from Pablo Prigioni. J.J. Barea had 24 points to lead Puerto Rico.

• The Suns’ Goran Dragic scored 21 points and pulled down 7 rebounds to lead Slovenia to a 90-80 victory over Australia.

• Greece beat Senegal 87-64 in part due to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. Minnesota’s Gorgui Dieng led Senegal with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

• In other action in the USA’s group Turkey came from behind to beat New Zealand 76-73, and the Ukraine (coached by Mike Fratello) beat the Dominican Republic 72-62.

• Other Word cup games on Saturday saw Angola beating Korea 80-69, Serbia toying with Egypt 85-64, and Lithuania beating Mexico 87-74.

Derrick Rose with explosive crossover, two handed jam on Finland (VIDEO)

Derrick Rose

Sure, Finland plays about as much defense as you see in my Monday night pick-up games, that was still an impressive move by Derrick Rose.

Rose looked like his vintage self against Finland in the USA’s World Cup opening win, finishing with 12 points. Rose was explosive and looked the best we have seen since the USA’s tune-up game in Chicago against Brazil.

The real question with Rose is how he feels the next day. (A question that will be asked again and again all season.) We’ll see how much he plays and how he looks against Turkey on Sunday, but on Saturday Rose looked good again.