Bojan Bogdanovic scores 2016 Olympic-high 33 points to lift Croatia over Brazil

AP Photo/Eric Gay
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It might have gotten lost in the Nets’ miserable season, but Bojan Bogdanovic sure can score.

His points haven’t been overlooked in the Olympics.

Bogdanovic scored 33 points, the most by anyone in a Rio game, to lead Croatia to an 80-76 win over Brazil on Thursday. The pivotal contest gives Croatia a significant leg up in qualifying for the knockout stage from Group B.

Croatia (2-1) will be tied with the Argentina-Lithuania (streaming here at 9:30 p.m. Eastern) loser for second in the group at the end of the day. Brazil (1-2) will be tied with the Spain-Nigeria (streaming here at 6 p.m. Eastern) winner for fourth.

The top four teams advance, meaning at least one of Argentina, Lithuania, Croatia, Brazil and Spain won’t. Though Croatia and Brazil have both beaten Spain, the Spaniards entered Rio a medal favorite. Nobody is ready to write them off like, say, fellow 0-2 Nigeria.

Who could Spain bump from the the top four?

Thanks to Bogdanovic, it probably won’t be Croatia.

Bogdanovic topped Carmelo Anthony‘s 31 points against Australia by shooting 10-of-16 from the field, including 3-of-6 on 3-pointers.  Averaging 24.7, Bogdanovic ranks second to Australia’s Patty Mills (25.7) in points per game.

76ers rookie Dario Saric provided plenty of support with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists. He knocked down spot-up shots from the perimeter, comfortably put the ball on the floor and defended inside and out. On one play, Saric blocked a shot then quickly threw a full-length pass to set up an easy Bogdanovic score. Despite six turnovers, Saric definitely continued his successful Olympic run.

The same couldn’t be said of Nene, who looked languid and shot just 2-for-10. Brazil – which trailed by 11 in fourth quarter and cut the deficit to three a couple times – made most of its comeback with him on the bench.

The Brazilians will need much more from him in their hyped matchup with South American rival Argentina on Saturday.