Gobert sparks France, Doncic leads Slovenia into EuroBasket final eight

Slovenia v Belgium: Round of 16 - FIBA EuroBasket 2022
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BERLIN — Rudy Gobert scored 20 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, and Olympic silver medalist France moved into the EuroBasket quarterfinals by holding off Turkey 87-86 in overtime on Saturday.

Gobert had a putback dunk with 2.7 seconds left in regulation to tie the game, then scored the first four points of overtime, and France never trailed in the extra session.

“Crazy game,” Gobert said.

Crazier finish.

Turkey had what seemed like full control of the game with 12.2 seconds left in regulation. It had the ball, up by two, was going to the foul line for two free throws and would keep possession of the ball after those shots because France had been whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul.

But Cedi Osman missed both shots, a scene reminiscent of when he did the same late in what became a one-point loss to the U.S. at the Basketball World Cup in 2019. France wound up forcing a turnover on the ensuing possession, and Gobert’s dunk tied the game.

“Really tough spot for us, but we got lucky, he missed both,” Gobert said. “Then we were able to steal the out of bounds, get a bucket and get to overtime. We never stopped. We never stopped fighting. We always believed. Obviously, not our best game, but the thing I’m really proud of is the fact that we never gave up. A lot of teams would have given up in that position.”

Thomas Heurtel and Evan Fournier had 13 points apiece for France, which led by 16 midway through the second quarter.

But Turkey closed the third quarter on a 19-0 run, turning an 11-point deficit into a 57-49 lead going into the final 10 minutes of regulation. France missed 11 consecutive shots in that stretch.

Turkey had a chance to win on the final possession of overtime, but Furkan Korkmaz lost his dribble with about 2 seconds left and his team never got a shot off.

Bugrahan Tuncer scored 22 for Turkey, while Korkmaz added 18.

“I don’t know what to say, really,” Tuncer said. “I’m so mad. I’m so sad. If I cannot find any nice words, I’m sorry about it. This is unacceptable.”

France will play the winner of Sunday’s Serbia-Italy game in the quarterfinals. That matchup is scheduled for Wednesday.

“Maybe it’s the worst emotional loss in my 26-year career,” Turkey coach Ergin Ataman said. “Congratulations to France. I hope that they will continue on a good way in the quarterfinals. That’s all.”

SLOVENIA 88, BELGIUM 72

Luka Doncic scored 35 points and defending champion Slovenia used a 17-0 run in the fourth quarter to eliminate Belgium.

Doncic and Goran Dragic combined to score or be credited with assists on Slovenia’s first 40 points of the second half.

“Belgium was playing great basketball,” said Doncic, who is averaging 28 points in six tournament games so far — 39.3 per game in his last three contests. “We knew this was going to be a hard game. They were fighting until the end. But in the end, I think we played a little better.”

Doncic had five rebounds, five assists and four steals for Slovenia, while Klemen Prepelic scored 13, Mike Tobey Finished with 12 and Dragic added 11.

Manu Lecomte scored 16 points and Pierre-Antoine Gillet had a 15-point, 10-rebound game for Belgium.

Slovenia got to the line 25 times, to only eight for Belgium.

“I’m listening for a lot of weeks now, the word ‘equality.’ But equality doesn’t exist in basketball,” Belgium coach Dario Gjergja said.

Next for Slovenia is a quarterfinal game Wednesday, against the winner of the Ukraine-Poland matchup. Those teams will play Sunday.

GERMANY 85, MONTENEGRO 79

Dennis Schroder scored 22 points and Germany wasted most of a 27-point second-half lead before hanging on to oust Montenegro.

Germany led 51-24 early in the third quarter before Montenegro outscored the hosts 53-29 over the next 19 minutes.

But Germany sealed the win with five free throws in the final seconds — three of them coming off an unsportsmanlike foul and technical foul call.

Maodo Lo and Franz Wagner each scored 14 for Germany. The Germans will meet either Greece or the Czech Republic in Tuesday’s quarterfinals; those teams meet in a round of 16 game on Sunday.

Kendrick Perry scored 25 for Montenegro, which got 22 from Bojan Dubljevic, 13 from Marko Simonovic and 12 from Vladimir Mihailovic.

SPAIN 102, LITHUANIA 94, OT

Lorenzo Brown scored 28 points, Willy Hernangomez added 21 and Spain survived some frantic moments to hold off Lithuania in overtime.

Rudy Fernandez and Juancho Hernangomez each scored 13 for Spain, which will meet either Finland or Croatia in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. Finland and Croatia play a round of 16 game on Sunday.

Brown scored the first five points of overtime, and Spain never trailed in the extra session.

Ignas Brazdeikis gave Lithuania a chance, getting a tip-in to rattle around the rim and fall as time expired in regulation. But Lithuania wasted an eight-point lead in the final 5:56 of the fourth quarter, and Spain wound up tying the game on a layup by Brown with 2:23 left in the fourth.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas led Lithuania with 18 points. Brazdeikis scored 17, while Domantas Sabonis and Lukas Lekavicius had 15 apiece.

Rokas Jokubaitis added 13 for Lithuania, which lost despite shooting 51% — 7% better than Spain.

Is Matisse Thybulle ready for a big step forward with 76ers?

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Matisse Thybulle brings a valuable NBA skill to the table — he is an elite perimeter defender. Two-time All-Defensive Team in three years in the league.

But when the 76ers got up against Miami in the playoffs, Thybulle’s role shrank dramatically. While Doc Rivers needed his defense, Thybulle’s lack of an offensive game became a problem — the Heat largely ignored him and helped off him, allowing Miami to muck up the Philly offense (he was limited in the Toronto series because he was not vaccinated and could not play in road games). The 76ers tried to solve that problem this offseason by bringing in DeAnthony Melton, Danuel House and P.J. Tucker — solid role-playing defenders who can contribute on offense, too.

Thybulle wants to be part of the solution, too, and told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer he spent the summer focused on his offensive game.

“I’m really proud of what I did,” Thybulle said of his offseason. “I’ve worked harder than I’ve worked. And I had a meeting with [Sixers coach Doc Rivers] early this week and was telling him I feel more bought in than I’ve been before.”

No doubt Thybulle put in the work, we will find out soon if it paid off — and if that will get Thybulle paid.

Thybulle is entering a contract year — the 76ers can extend him up until Oct. 18, after which he would become a restricted free agent next summer. Thybulle said his goal is to remain in Philadelphia (and he’d like an extension).

“At this point, I would always want to stay in Philly,” he said. “And if it’s up to me, that’s always going to be my choice.

“But considering that I’ve realized the reality of how far out of my control it is, if I do get traded or something does end up happening, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.”

With a win-now Sixers team, Daryl Morey may be in a wait-and-see place with Thybulle, letting the market set his price next offseason. If he signs now, it will likely be on a team-friendly deal (but maybe one that still works for the 25-year-old).

If Thybulle gets on the court this season and shows an improved offensive game, one where he can make teams pay for helping off him, his price goes up and there may be multiple teams bidding for his services next summer. And Doc Rivers would be happy in the short term.

It’s up to Thybulle to prove it now.

 

Markelle Fultz will miss start of training camp, at least, with broken toe

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The basketball gods continue to turn their backs on Markelle Fultz.

A torn ACL had limited him to 26 games over the past two seasons, but he was healthy and ramping up to a larger role this season with a young and interesting Magic team. Then came the news he fractured his left big toe during a training session. As a result, he will be out for at least the start of training camp, the team announced. From the official announcement:

“He has been placed in a walking boot and his return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment. Fultz suffered the injury during a preseason workout prior to returning to Orlando and imaging confirmed the fracture.

He will not need surgery, according to the team.

Fultz was set to split point guard duties with Cole Anthony, this injury means RJ Hampton could see more run at the point for now. Fultz should be able to return either during the end of the preseason or early in the season.

Fultz was the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but never found his footing with the 76ers (in part due to injury). However, since getting out of that spotlight and allowed to develop in Orlando he’s been a solid rotation point guard when healthy. Last season in 18 games he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists a game, and while he’s still not an efficient shooter he can run a team.

How Anthony and, eventually, Fultz will work off the ball as rookie Paolo Banchero gets the opportunity to create more offense will be just one of the interesting things to watch with this Magic team this year. We’ll have to wait a little while to see Fultz.

 

Vintage Kobe: Redeem Team recalls him running over Pau Gasol

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If the goal of a trailer is to get you to want to see the movie, then well done Netflix. I’m in.

Netflix released a trailer for its upcoming Redeem Team documentary on the 2008 Olympics, featuring some vintage Kobe Bryant. Just as a quick refresher, in 2008 the USA’s toughest opponent would be a deep Spanish team led by peak Pau Gasol but also with Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, José Calderón, Rudy Fernández, Juan Carlos Navarro and more. This was a legitimately dangerous team and one the USA would face first in group play.

Kobe wanted to set a tone — and did by running through his friend Gasol. (Warning: There is NSFW language in the video clip below.)

“‘First play of the game I’m running through Pau Gasol.’ And we was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘First play of the game, I know what they’re gonna run.’ And he knew Pau was gonna be the last screen and he said ‘I’m running through him,'” Dwayne Wade said

Spoiler alert: The USA thrashed Spain in group stage play. However, come the Gold Medal game it was a lot tougher for the Americans to beat the Spaniards, with Kobe having to have a big fourth quarter and — what often goes unremembered — a master class from Chris Paul in game management to control the tempo and flow.

I’m all in for the documentary, which drops on Oct. 7 on Netflix.

Spurs’ Keldon Johnson to miss start of training camp with shoulder injury

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Keldon Johnson is poised to have a monster season on a rebuilding Spurs team.

Except he’s going to miss the start of training camp and the team’s preseason games. And could be out longer.

Johnson suffered a “right shoulder posterior dislocation during Spurs open gym” the team announced Saturday. Posterior dislocations are rare (less than 5% of all dislocations) and are usually from a fall on an extended arm. Recovering from the injury depends on many factors but can extend out for months. However, the Spurs said Johnson is expected to be available for the start of the regular season less than a month from now.

Johnson averaged 17 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last season, and is an elite perimeter shooter off the catch-and-shoot (39.8% from 3 overall), who also can put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim. He was the team’s second-leading scorer last season (to Dejounte Murray, who is now in Atlanta).

The Spurs will be cautious with bringing Johnson back. Even in what could be Gregg Popovich’s last season as coach the Spurs are looking more to be part of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes than push for a playoff spot. Johnson is a quality player who helps San Antonio win games, which both is why they want him back healthy and why they are not going to rush him.