FIBA Americas opens Tuesday, watch out for Argentina

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Argentina is one stacked squad. And they are playing at home.

Which is why everyone expects them to exit with one of the two Olympic berths to be handed out at the FIBA Americas Tournament, which starts Tuesday in Mar Del Plata, Argentina.

The top two finishers in the 10-team Americas tournament get an automatic berth in the 2012 London Olympics. Finishers three through five get a ticket to the pre-Olympics Qualifying Tournament next year where they can face off against a number of good teams trying to back door into the Olympics.

Argentina, as we said, is loaded. They have the man who should be the single best player in this tournament in Manu Ginobili. After that they have Luis Scola, who was one of the standout players at last year’s World Championships. Up front with Scola can be Andres Nocioni. The point guard is Carlos Delfino, and they have Fabricio Oberto. And that’s just the NBA guys, the rest of the team is season international players.

They should walk away with the gold.

The second Olympic berth will likely to one of three teams:

The Dominican Republic: They have an impressive front line with Al Horford and Charlie Villanueva. Horford will be a steady scoring presence in the paint and, if his NBA career is any indication, Villanueva will be awesome one out of every for games or so. Francisco Garcia will hold down the backcourt.

Puerto Rico: They rival Argentina for the best backcourt in this tournament, starting Carlos Arroyo and J.J. Barea. Not the tallest or best defensive backcourt, but one that can make plays in international ball. Up front they have Renaldo Balkman, who will bring energy and defense.

Brazil: If they had their full compliment of players, we’d say they would rival Argentina, but Nene, Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa all are sitting this one out. That leaves Tiago Splitter to carry the load. That may well not be enough

Phoenix council postpones vote on Suns arena renovation

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PHOENIX (AP) — The City Council has postponed a vote on a proposed $230 million renovation of the Talking Stick Resort Arena that would keep the Suns in downtown Phoenix.

The council agreed unanimously Wednesday to postpone a decision until Jan. 23 so residents can attend five public meetings to be held around Phoenix to discuss the project.

Suns owner Robert Sarver reportedly threatened to move the franchise to Seattle or Las Vegas if not given enough public funding.

Suns President and CEO Jason Rowley says the organization looks forward to the public discussions and to answering any questions about the proposed renovation.

The deal would revamp the nearly 30-year-old arena, the oldest in the NBA that is not currently being renovated.

The Suns agreed to a 40-year lease in 1992, but the deal included a provision for the team to opt out at 30 years.

Final minute of Celtics-Wizards featured five-possession, 10-point, no-stoppage stretch (video)

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Crunch time of a close NBA game is awesome.

It’s exponentially better when nobody calls timeout.

The Celtics and Wizards finished with a flourish tonight, Boston coming out ahead in a frenetic final minute. The last minute included two Kyrie Irving 3-pointers (one tightly contested, one extremely deep) and a sharp drive by John Wall (who had just returned to the game from an injury).

After a flow-killing foul in the final few seconds, the Celtics won, 130-25.

More games should be like this.

Jeremy Lamb hits game-winner despite Bismack Biyombo, others Hornets prematurely running on court to celebrate

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The Hornets sure were excited for Jeremy Lamb‘s game-winner against the Pistons tonight.

Too excited.

After Lamb hit a jumper to put Charlotte up two with 0.3 seconds left, several Hornets ran onto the court. Bismack Biyombo was nearly at halfcourt as Detroit tried to inbound! He was so far onto the court, I’m not even sure officials noticed him when dinging Malik Monk – closer to the bench –for the violation.

Ashley Holder:

The Pistons made a technical free throw to cut their deficit to one, but they still had to inbound from under their own basket. Their desperation pass was intercepted, and Charlotte held on for a 108-107 win.

Several Hornets were certainly relieved.

Crazily enough, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this.

Suns’ T.J. Warren fined $15k for inappropriate language toward official following ejection (video)

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Everyone on the Suns seems frustrated.

In Phoenix’s loss to the Clippers on Monday, T.J. Warren got ejected. And his outburst will cost him extra.

NBA release:

Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren has been fined $15,000 for directing inappropriate language toward a game official following his ejection, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

This wasn’t a lengthy exchange. Warren didn’t linger on the court complaining. He must have said something extremely harsh to warrant two technical fouls and a fine that quickly.

(Despite confusion, the foul preceding the ejection was called on Deandre Ayton, not Warren.)