Tony Parker 1, Manu Ginobili 0.
For the first time the two Spurs stars met leading their teams in international competition and in the first real upset of the London Olympics France used its speed to blow by Argentina and get the win 71-64. Parker by himself outscored Argentina 13-11 in the fourth quarter to key the win.
Both teams are in Group A, which is the group the Americans should sweep. Both teams are now 1-1 but France has already played the USA and has just the two weaker African squads plus Lithuania left on its schedule — they should win out and get second in the group. Which gives them an easier path to a medal. Argentina still has to play the USA and if they finish third in Group A they could have a tough match with Brazil (or maybe Russia) in the first game of the medal round.
And the USA is just cruising along (they face Tunisia later on Tuesday).
Argentina had looked good coming in against a slower-footed Lithuanian team, while the more athletic French team came in playing at a different tempo off their loss to the USA. France made an early 12-0 run that got them up 19-10 at one point and they never let go of that lead.
Argentina struggled to knock down shots, hitting 4-of-23 from beyond the arc and shooting 37 percent overall as a team. Ginobili had 26 points on 9-of-20 shooting and Luis Scola added 16 points. But Carlos Delfino was 1-of-8 from the floor and that seemed more typical of the Argentinean day.
France got 14 points out of Nicolas Batum and just seemed to get key contributions from everyone. When both Ronny Turiaf and Boris Diaw fouled out with just more than two minutes to go in a close game, the Wizard’s Kevin Seraphin made his best play of the game — he stole a post-pass to Scola, knocked it out to Parker, then ran the floor and was rewarded with the ally-oop pass. It was the game defining play of the fourth quarter.
Argentina, which had looked good in a tune-up against the United States as well as in its Olympic opener, just looked old and a step slow all night.
And with the loss, Argentina’s road to a medal just became a steeper climb.
Second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr. has been rumored to be on the trade block. The Dallas Mavericks guard hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with coach Rick Carlisle, and several teams have expressed interest in Smith. It appeared that Smith was all set to join another team as part of a swap as we approach the trade deadline.
A report on Sunday on the latest from Dallas has changed all that. According to The Athletic, Smith and Carlisle have had productive talks and the 21-year-old is set to rejoin the team for their game on Tuesday.
Smith hasn’t made the kind of leap the Mavericks were hoping for. Despite an offensive explosion across the league, he hasn’t seen his advanced numbers experience a significant bump. Smith’s flaws are that of a young player — shooting and decision-making — so any additional communication with coaches will be a good thing for him.
Who knows is he and Carlisle can ever heal the wound fully, but it felt too soon to press the eject button on a Top 10 pick like Smith for Mavs fans.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been dealt another injury loss.
Lakers PG Lonzo Ball, part of the young core the team is trying to develop around LeBron James, suffered an ankle sprain against the Houston Rockets on Saturday. The team release via their website said Ball would be re-evaluated but could mis 4-6 weeks.
Lakers guard Lonzo Ball, who was injured in last night’s game at Houston, underwent an MRI which revealed a Grade 3 left ankle sprain. Ball is expected to miss 4-6 weeks and updates will be provided as appropriate.
Ball had to be carried from the court after he collided with James Ennis during a play in the third quarter. Ball appeared to step on Ennis’ foot when the Rockets player tried to cut him off from the basket.
LA has had a rough go of it since LeBron injured his groin some 13 games ago. The Lakers have also been without Rajon Rondo, and have had a tough time winning games. The team, once thoroughly in the playoff race, has now dipped to ninth place in the West.
James and Rondo have been cleared for basketball activities, and they need their veteran leadership now more than ever heading into the All-Star break.
Dwyane Wade is a Chicago native but the Miami Heat guard only played in the Windy City for a short amount of time. Wade was a member of the Chicago Bulls for 60 games in 2016-17 despite having signed a massive contract with the team in July of 2016.
Wade is now back where he belongs in Miami, and he’s been on a bit of a farewell tour across the NBA. As such, the Bulls felt it prudent to show a little tribute video for Wade before the final game he was to play at United Center.
How Bulls fans feel about Wade probably depends on who you ask, but a tribute video from the organization is a classy touch no matter what.
Wade has done jersey swaps with players around the league and in Chicago he got a special one: Benny the Bull.
There’s been a lot of clever NBA All-Star marketing over the years. Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum did a “Napoleon Dynamite”-themed video for his buddy Damian Lillard this season. The Toronto Raptors made a faux-vintage action figure ad for Kawhi Leonard.
Now it appears that anime website Crunchyroll is trying to get “One Piece” fans to vote for Oklahoma City Thunder big man Steven Adams.
Adams is a fan of anime, and has professed his admiration for the show “One Piece” before. Adams made mention about how he was watching the show instead of Kevin Durant‘s debut with the Golden State Warriors a while back. In turn, Crunchyroll — a streaming site — made a video trying to get people to vote for Adams in the NBA fan vote.
That’s pretty good, but will it be enough? We know the fan vote gets wild, especially with favorites who are sort of undeserving (Derrick Rose and Luka Doncic come to mind). Could a big push from the anime crowd help Adams, who is an excellent player but who has never been an All-Star, notch his first bid?