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).
Philadelphia had its chance. It got the ball with 27.5 seconds left in a tie game in Atlanta, a chance for Jimmy Butler to ice another game and… nothing. The Sixers had a shot clock violation after a scrambled play (watch the video above).
That left 3.5 seconds for Trae Young, and that’s all the time he needed.
Young’s floater has improved over the course of the season, and he was quick enough to get in a position where Butler could not block his shot. And he drained it.
The combination of a Sixers team that looked flat coming off their win over the Celtics, combined with Young’s energy was too much. Atlanta has played better since the All-Star break and teams sleep on them at their own peril.
Boban Marjanovic was 0-of-6 from three in his career before Saturday night. Then this happened.
Boban is just fun. Basketball should be fun.
I don’t know what’s going to happen with his free agency this summer, but you can bet the fans in Philly want him to stick around.
Lonzo Ball has played in just 99 games through his first two NBA seasons, 60 percent of the possible games. His rookie season, it was shoulder and knee issues that sidelined him for 30 games.
This past season, he went down on Jan. 19 with a sprained ankle against the Rockets, a severe one that also had a bone bruise, which slowed the healing. Ball has been shut down for the season because of it.
The Lakers are concerned that his Big Baller Brand shoes may have contributed to the ankle issues, something Ball confirmed the Lakers talked to him about in an ESPN story by Ramona Shelburne and Paula Lavigne.
[The January injury] marked his third separate ankle injury, which left the Lakers searching for what could be the root issue of his troubles — including asking about his Big Baller Brand shoes.
“Yeah, they talked to me,” Lonzo Ball told ESPN two weeks ago. “They asked me about it, and I told ’em, ‘I feel comfortable. If I wasn’t comfortable, I wouldn’t play in ’em. If I didn’t play in [his signature BBB shoes], I’d play in Kobe [Bryant’s signature Nike shoe]. I work out in [LeBron James’ signature Nike shoe], but that’s because they’re heavier.”
Lonzo also said he told the Lakers he was open to making adjustments — “just minor things,” he said — to his Big Baller Brand shoes if needed.
There are trainers around the league who believe a lot of foot and ankle issues in the NBA are about poorly designed or ill-fitting shoes (that can include major, trusted brands, but the player wears something that does not fit his needs).
Whether the ZO2 is part of the problem or not is impossible to say from the outside.
However, Ball recently severed some ties with the Big Baller Brand over the business manager’s handling of his money. Ball also deleted pictures of himself wearing Big Baller Brand gear from his Instagram. What does that mean? We’re not going to speculate here, but take your own best guess.
Malcolm Brogdon is out for the remainder of the regular season, likely the first round of the playoffs, and maybe longer with a plantar fascia tear. Nikola Mirotic is out likely through the end of the regular season (and maybe a little longer) with a thumb fracture. The injury bug that the Bucks avoided much of the season is catching up with them.
And Pau Gasol can now be added to the list, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews.
Gasol is going to play a limited role for Milwaukee, but his depth along the front line would have been helpful as the Bucks try to rest guys and get right for the postseason.
If these injuries — particularly Brogdon, who is an important glue piece for them — lingers into the second round of the playoffs for Milwaukee, it could mean an earlier end to the season than they hoped.