The FIBA World Cup is taking place in Spain right now, but it was Labor Day Monday in America and we know you were celebrating the gains organized labor has brought to our country… or drinking a lot of beer, either way you weren’t watching FIBA ball. So here is what you missed.
• We said from the start this tournament was going to come down to Spain vs. the USA — and Spain flexed its muscles and looked dominant in beating Brazil 82-63 on Monday. Spain looked like a force from the opening tip with Pau Gasol scoring 12 (of his 26 for the game) in the first quarter and the Spaniards hanging a 30 spot on a good Brazil team in the first frame. The game was never really close and Bulls fans had to watch this game and just drool about what the 34-year-old Gasol is going to bring to Chicago this year. Gasol also had 9 rebounds and even blocked Nene right at the rim.
Make no mistake Spain is a legitimate threat to the USA (the two almost certainly will not meet until the gold medal game). The Spaniards looked better beating Brazil than Team USA did in its exhibition against that same team, with Spain having better ball movement and team play. Plus they have a raucous home crowd. Spain also has legitimate talent — they start Pau Gaol, Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio, with Serge Ibaka, Jose Calderon and Sergio Rodriguez coming off the bench.
• Senegal pulled off an upset of Croatia 77-75 behind Gorgui Dieng (Timberwolves) who had 27 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Dieng has been a force in this tournament averaging 22 points a game on 54 percent shooting, plus 11.7 rebounds and a couple blocks a night. The Sixers Dario Saric looked good again with 15, as did the Nets Bojan Bogdanovic, but it wasn’t enough for Croatia.
• The Philippines are the best and most entertaining 0-3 team in the tournament. They came out with their young legs Monday and tried to run the old men of Argentina into the ground — and it worked for a while. The Philippines led early but eventually Argentina came back for an 85-81 victory.
• In other action France destroyed Egypt 94-55; Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 15 points to help lead Greece past Puerto Rico 90-79 (Greece has now qualified for the knockout round of 16); and Serbia beat Iran 83-70.
• Team USA had Monday off but play against New Zealand on Tuesday (11:30 ET on ESPN).
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.
But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.
Popovich, via ESPN:
“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.
And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.
Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.
Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.
Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.
Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.
But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.
The Milwaukee Bucks keep right on rolling, they won their 18th straight on Saturday night, cruising past the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they’re going to have to keep this winning streak going without point guard Eric Bledsoe.
Bledsoe will miss at least two weeks with a right fibula avulsion fracture, the team announced Saturday. The injury happened Friday night in a win against Memphis.
An avulsion fracture is where a strain to ligament pulls a little bit of bone off where the two connect. It sounds worse than it is medically, and while it hurts rest is usually the only treatment needed.
Bledsoe is averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game for the Bucks, shooting 34.4 percent from three, playing solid defense, and providing another ball handler and shot creator next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has been +4.1 points per 100 possessions this season with Bledsoe on the court.
George Hill, who has had a strong season for Milwaukee off the bench, will step into the starting role for now.
The injury comes at a rough time as the Buck hit a tougher part of the schedule this week, facing Dallas (which may be without Luka Doncic) and the Lakers on Thursday.
In what has been a disappointing rookie class so far, Charlotte appears to have a steal drafting P.J. Washington at No. 12. The power forward out of Kentucky has started every game for the Hornets this season and is loving the spacing in the NBA game, scoring efficiently in the paint while shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game, plus is averaging 5.3 rebounds a game.
Now the Hornets are going to be without him, likely for a couple of weeks, due to a fractured fifth finger on his right hand (pinkie). He suffered it in the fourth quarter against Chicago Friday night.
While the Hornets officially only list him as out for Sunday against the Pacers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports he’s going to be out through Christmas, which would mean at least five games.
Usually this would mean more minutes for Marvin Williams, but he is out with a sore right knee. Most likely, coach James Borego slides an undersized Miles Bridges over to the four — which had been the preseason plan until Washington surprised everyone — but he has a variety of small-ball players who likely will get a little run there.
The 12-16 Hornets are hanging around the playoff picture, just 1.5 games out of the eight seed (Orlando).