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Greece beats New Zealand for final spot in 2nd round of World Cup

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Team USA crushed Japan. Other results from the final day of the FIBA World Cup first round:

GREECE 103, NEW ZEALAND 97

Greece is headed to the second round of the World Cup after beating New Zealand 103-97 on Thursday in a showdown between teams that both had a shot at advancing.

Greece (2-1) was the last team to make the 16-team field for the second round. New Zealand (1-2) has to settle for the consolation bracket and will be one of the strongest teams in that 16-team pairing.

Greece jumped out to a nine-point lead in Nanjing after the first quarter, which was basically the winning edge in the Group F game.

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks led Greece with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Corey Webster led New Zealand with 31 points.

CZECH REPUBLIC 91, TURKEY 76

At Shanghai, the Czech Republic made it to the second round, and Turkey completed its collapse.

Vojtech Hruban scored 18 points and Ondrej Balvin finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds to take the second and final second-round spot from Group E. Patrick Auda also scored 16 points for the Czechs (2-1).

“We fought hard and in the end we wanted this game more than anybody else,” Balvin said.

Cedi Osman scored 24 points and Furkan Korkmaz added 16 for Turkey (1-2), which came within one-tenth of a second of beating the United States on Tuesday and wasted a five-point lead in overtime of that game before losing 92-91.

“We are very sorry,” Turkish assistant coach Recep Sen said after the second of two disappointing losses.

FRANCE 90, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 56

At Shenzhen, France and the Dominican Republic were both assured of making the second round. The French team’s emphatic victory left no doubt that it was the best team in Group G.

Nando De Colo led France (3-0) with 15 points and Rudy Gobert added 13. Victor Liz had 12 to lead the Dominican Republic (2-1).

AUSTRALIA 87, LITHUANIA 82

At Dongguan, Australia’s victory allowed it to top Group H with Lithuania finishing 2-1. They both go to the second round.

Australia was led by Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs with 23 points, while Aron Baynes of the Phoenix Suns added 21. Baynes also pulled down 13 rebounds.

Marius Grigonis was Lithuania’s top scorer with 19 points. Lukas Lekavicius added 15.

CANADA 82, SENEGAL 60

At Dongguan, Canada picked up its first victory in its final Group H game, and Senegal remained winless in three games. Both teams moved into the consolation round, playing for 17th to 32nd place.

Cory Joseph of the Sacramento Kings led Germany with 24 points and Kevin Pangos added 13 with five rebounds and five assists. Mouhammad Faye had 14 as Senegal’s top scorer.

BRAZIL 84, MONTENEGRO 73

At Nanjing, Brazil finished 3-0 to top Group F and moved into the second round. Montenegro lost all three and is headed to consolation-round play. Brazil had three players in double figures: Marcelinho Huertas with 16 points, Marquinhos Sousa with 13, and Alex Garcia with 11.

Derek Needham led Montenegro with 16 points and 10 assists.

GERMANY 96, JORDAN 62

At Shenzhen, Germany salvaged a victory in its last Group G match, and Jordan finished winless. Both move into the consolation round.

Max Kleber of the Dallas Mavericks led the Germans with 18 points and Danilo Barthel had 13. Ahmad Al Dwairi had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead Jordan. Dar Tucker added 14.

FRIDAY SCHEDULE

SECOND ROUND

Group I: Poland (3-0) vs. Russia (2-1); Argentina (3-0), Venezuela (2-1).

Group J: Serbia (3-0) vs. Puerto Rico (2-1); Spain (3-0) vs. Italy (2-1).

CLASSIFICATION ROUND

Group M: Nigeria (1-2) vs. Ivory Coast (0-3); China (1-2) vs. Korea (0-3).

Group N: Angola (1-2) vs. Iran (0-3); Tunisia (1-2) vs. Philippines (0-3).

Luka Doncic had more points, rebounds and assists than Warriors in first quarter

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Luka Doncic keeps doing amazing things.

But he really outdid himself in opening quarter of the Mavericks win over the Warriors last night. The box score after the first quarter:

  • Points: Doncic 22, Warriors 16
  • Rebounds: Doncic 5, Warriors 4
  • Assists: Doncic 5, Warriors 4

Outscoring Golden State? OK. Getting more assists? OK. Doing both? That’s just incredible. Doncic was in total control offensively.

The 6-foot-7 wing out-rebounding the Warriors is especially astounding. Though I suppose if 6-foot Allen Iverson out-rebounded an entire team for a quarter, it’s not that crazy Doncic did, too.

To be fair, this achievement deserves a little context. Warriors who played in the first quarter:

Three Things to Know: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George’s sloppy first game shows promise

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Kawhi Leonard, Paul George’s first game together is both sloppy and shows moments of real promise. This was what the Clippers had been waiting for since July, what they had paid a steep price to make a reality and change the course of a franchise.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard shared an NBA court for the first time and it was…

Sloppy.

A bit awkward, like a blind first date. Credit Boston’s active defense for some of that — it’s not a fluke Boston has the seventh-best defense in the league this season and forced 23 turnovers on the night — but through the muck there were moments of real promise. Like the first play of the game, when the Celtics trapped Leonard off an Ivica Zubac pick, Leonard fed Zubac, who quickly found Leonard for a three.

Moments later, when the Celtics trapped Leonard, and he found George for three.

For much of the game, things were not as smooth with those two on the court together — as should be expected. George missed the first 11 games of the season following double shoulder surgery this offseason. Once he returned, Leonard was out three games with a bruised knee. The pair had literally one practice together, and in the full-contact scrimmage to end that day they were on opposing sides.

This marriage going to take time. The Clippers didn’t even explore a Leonard/George pick-and-roll in this game, but you know that’s coming. As Doc Rivers put it postgame:

“We were kind of trying not to get in each other’s way at times, you could feel that…

“We need a lot of work, you can see that… part of that was we were trying to get the ball to guys instead of trying to score.”

With the game on the line in overtime against one of the NBA’s better and hotter teams in Boston, two things that make the Clippers so dangerous were evident.

One is the defense — George and Leonard each made big defensive plays late, including Leonard blocking Marcus Smart’s attempt at a game-winner.

All game long the Clippers length and defense gave Boston — which came into the game with the league’s fourth-best offense — trouble.

Second is Leonard and George have a good team around them — Patrick Beverley was the best Clipper on the floor Wednesday night and the team gave him the game ball afterward. He was intense on defense (as always), had 14 points and 16 boards, and with the Celtics making the choice to trap and double on offense guys were open, and it was Beverley who made Boston pay with the overtime dagger to seal a 107-104 win.

The Clippers, for all their star power, look a lot like Beverley. This is a scrappy, hard-working team with guys who play their roles and bring intensity. Even their stars are that way — George and Leonard are not anointed No. 1 picks where everyone saw their stardom coming, they are lunch pail guys who had talent but came out of smaller colleges and had to work hard to get where they are. Nothing was handed to them, they had to grind it out.

This is why pairing Leonard and George was always going to take a little time to make work. They were always going to have to figure it out.

But when they do…. you can already see why the rest of the league should be worried.

2) Another night, another ridiculous Luka Doncic triple-double. This feels like a nightly thing, and I’m fast running out of ways to praise Luka Doncic, his play, and to remind everyone that he’s just 20 years old and in his second NBA season.

Age doesn’t matter, he’s been so good he’s injected himself into the way-too-early MVP conversation. His latest feat Friday night was a 35-point, 11 assists, 10 rebound triple-double against the hapless Warriors — this time he did it in just 25 minutes on the court. He sat the entire fourth of a blowout Dallas win.

Doncic is now averaging a triple-double over his last 10 games: 31.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 10.5 assists in that stretch. Here’s the list of other NBA players to average a 30+ point triple-double for 10 games or more: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Oscar Robertson. That’s it.

Doncic is special, has willed the Mavericks to a 9-5 record, and has them looking like a playoff team in the West. Lifting up your team to the next level is what MVPs do, and so far in Dallas it’s what Doncic has done.

3) Do you believe in miracles… YES! Ben Simmons hits his first NBA three. That headline may overstate the excitement around Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons on Wednesday. But not by that much. Sixers fans — and coach Brett Brown — has had to wait three seasons, 193 games, and 18 attempts from three clank off the rim, if they hit anything at all. (Those numbers include his playoff stats.) It finally happened:

Ben Simmons has made his first NBA three.

We’ve all seen the videos of Simmons knocking down threes in an empty gym, but that’s the NBA equivalent of dunking on an 8-foot rim at the local elementary school. Not the same thing.

This was Simmons’ first attempt at a three all season — that’s the real concern. To create floor spacing Philly wants and needs, Simmons needs to be much more willing to uncork this shot — he’s got to take a bunch and make enough of them before teams respect him from deep.

This is at least a start. And it feels like a miracle.

There’s a mural in L.A. of Alex Caruso dunking over Harden, Leonard, Doncic

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It’s hard to overstate how popular Alex Caruso is in Los Angeles. Seriously. This isn’t just cult status popular, when he enters the game off the bench Staples Center explodes in cheers like LeBron James just fed Anthony Davis for an alley-oop.

Now Caruso has his own mural in Los Angeles.

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This is legit, it’s on the side of SportieLA, a clothing/apparel store on Melrose Ave. in the trendy heart of Los Angeles. Artist Gustavo Zermeño Jr. has done murals in the past for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and other Los Angeles sports icons such as Vin Scully.

This one plays off a huge Caruso dunk from earlier this month when Dallas’ Maxi Kleber was the victim.

It’s good to be Alex Caruso in Los Angeles right now.

Kawhi Leonard just destroyed Boston’s Daniel Theis on dunk

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Daniel Theis‘ play as a rim protector is one of the reasons Boston has a top-10 defense this season. He has anchored the Celtics’ defense in the paint.

Kawhi Leonard is a two-time Finals MVP, and if he wants to go to the rim nobody is stopping him. Theis found out the hard way.

After the game, Leonard was asked about the dunk and he responded in about the most Kawhi way possible.

This was the first game Leonard and Paul George played together and they combined for 42 points, and they both made key play down the stretch of a 107-104 overtime win.