Canada, Serbia, Greece into semis in Olympic hoop qualifiers

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Canada, Serbia and Greece all clinched semifinal berths Wednesday in the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments to determine the final spots in the men’s basketball field.

Cory Joseph of the Toronto Raptors scored 13 points as the Canadians beat Senegal 58-55 to improve to 2-0 in Group A of the Manila, Philippines, tournament. Canada will face the loser of Thursday’s France-New Zealand game in the semifinals.

Serbia also improved to 2-0 in the tournament it is hosting in Belgrade by beating Angola 83-60. Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets finished with 17 points and six rebounds for the 2014 Basketball World Cup silver medalists.

Greece beat Mexico 86-70 in a game that determined first place in Group A in Turin, Italy. Mexico will play host Italy in one semifinal, while the Greeks were awaiting their next opponent.

The winners of the three tournaments get the final berths in Rio.

A look at Wednesday’s results:

AT MANILA, PHILIPPINES

CANADA 58, SENEGAL 55

The Canadians held on despite scoring just 11 points in the fourth quarter. Maurice Ndour had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Senegal, which shot just 27.5 percent from the field – just 25 percent on 2-point attempts.

Senegal faces Turkey on Thursday, with the winner getting the No. 2 spot from Group A and the loser eliminated.

NEW ZEALAND 89, PHILIPPINES 80

Tai Webster had 25 points and 11 rebounds for New Zealand in its opener. Corey Webster, his brother, added 23 points.

Former NBA center Andray Blatche finished with 30 points and seven rebounds, but the Philippines fell to 0-2 and was eliminated.

AT BELGRADE, SERBIA

SERBIA 83, ANGOLA 60

The hosts shot 54.5 percent from the field and put four players in double figures.

Reggie Moore was the only Angolan in double figures with 10 points. Angola fell to 0-2 and was eliminated, giving Puerto Rico the No. 2 spot from Group A.

AT TURIN, ITALY

GREECE 86, MEXICO 70

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks scored 21 points for the Greeks, who trailed 35-33 at halftime before seizing control by outscoring Mexico by 14 points in the third. Ioannis Bourousis added 16 points and nine rebounds.

Francisco Cruz led the Mexicans with 19 points.

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.