Team USA Basketball Whomps France in Olympic Debut

Team USA Basketball Whomps France in Olympic Debut

mostly watching (AP photo)

They may or may not be better than the '92 Dream Team—I'm a mite
skeptical, though it's probably close—but it's pretty clear that this
2012 Team USA is gonna be damn good. France might be the toughest team
that they play in the Preliminary Round—not a real Gold Medal contender,
but a team of pros at least, with an All-Star in Tony Parker and a
handful of other solid players (Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum)—but after a
sloppy first quarter, Team USA still cruised to an easy victory, leading
by at least 20 for most of the second half and finishing with a 98-71 victory.

The game more or less reinforced the current player hierarchy in the
NBA, with LeBron James and Kevin Durant the obvious team leaders. Even
on a team with Chris Paul and Deron Williams, LeBron served as the
team's primary facilitator, hitting teammates with bullet passes for
easy looks and finishing with nine points and 8 assists, while Durant
served as the first-option scorer, tallying 22 points on 13 shots, and
pulling down 9 rebounds as well. It's hard to imagine a team with
those two guys not finding a way to win any of these games.

 
Our own Andre Iguodala didn't have a ton of impact in this one—he only
played two minutes in the first half, losing most of his minutes to a
hot Kevin Love, and didn't register any meaningful stats in his brief
stretch. He did get to play most of the fourth quarter in what was
essentially garbage time, though he didn't exactly set the court on
fire, with his most notable play being an attempted alley-oop pass that
sailed well over his teammate's head. As long as Love manages to stay
out of Coack K's doghouse, 'Dre's minutes stand to be fairly limited in
consequential action from here out, though he may be called on to be a
defensive stopper off the bench should any opposing wing players give
the team trouble.

However, there was another Sixer more notably involved with today's game
than 'Dre—Coach Doug Collins, who returned to the microphone as the
analyst for today's game on NBC. It was fun to hear Dougie's voice on
the call again, as he did for several years on TNT (and for the '08
Olympic games in Beijing as well), and cool to get his take on a couple of the
players he's had to gameplan against from the Sixers' sidelines these
last few seasons. It'll be a treat to get to hear him for the rest of
the games.

Also, if you're watching these Team USA games and a couple of them turn
into blowouts, there's another reason besides getting to see 'Dre on the
court to keep watching in garbage time—rookie big man Anthony Davis. He
didn't put up huge numbers in today's game, but he had a couple plays—a
block on one end where he just kinda swallowed the shot, an alley-oop
dunk on the other—that were fairly stunning, and showed how much fun
this guy is gonna be to watch in the NBA for the next decade or two, and
how he's already on a level where he doesn't even look out of place
playing with these All-World dudes as teammates.

Next up: The not particularly intimidating Team Tunisia, on Tuesday at 5:15 PM EST. Get ready for some SportsCenter highlights.

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook became the first player with five consecutive triple-doubles since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 101-92 on Sunday night.

Westbrook finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists. The Thunder have won all five games during Westbrook's triple-double stretch. It was Westbrook's 10th triple-double of the season and the 47th of his career.

Enes Kanter had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Victor Oladipo added 15 points for the Thunder.

Anthony Davis, the NBA's leading scorer, had 37 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans. Buddy Hield, who led nearby Oklahoma to the Final Four last season, scored 16 points in his first game back in the state (see full recap).

Rose, Anthony help Knicks hold off Kings
NEW YORK -- Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony each scored 20 points and the New York Knicks held off the Sacramento Kings 106-98 on Sunday night for their eighth win in 11 games.

The Knicks took a 21-point lead in the first half, gave up 18 consecutive points in the third quarter but outplayed the Kings down the stretch to win their third straight overall and improve to 9-3 at home.

Brandon Jennings added 19 points for New York and Kristaps Porzingis finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

DeMarcus Cousins had 36 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, but shot just 9 for 30 and looked fatigued while struggling late while playing the entire second half (see full recap).

Ibaka's big night leads Magic past Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Serge Ibaka scored 21 points and blocked four shots, helping the Orlando Magic beat the Detroit Pistons 98-92 on Sunday night.

Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Magic.

Pistons guard Reggie Jackson made his season debut after missing Detroit's first 21 games with knee tendinitis. He had 18 points in 23 minutes. Marcus Morris led Detroit with 21 points.

Orlando won for the third time in four games while Detroit had its three-game winning streak snapped.

On Jackson's first possession, the Pistons went to their bread-and-butter play -- he and Andre Drummond running a high pick and roll. Jackson came off the screen and hit a 3-pointer, bringing a cheer from the small crowd. Jackson played the first 5:50 of the quarter as Detroit built a 16-10 lead (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

LOS ANGELES -- Paul Byron scored the clinching goal in the fourth round of the shootout, and the Montreal Canadiens avoided a winless swing through California with a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist for the Canadiens, who won for just the second time in seven road games. Montreal had only one win in its previous 11 games in California before scoring three times in the four-round shootout.

Alexander Radulov and Andrew Shaw also scored and Carey Price made 27 saves for the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens.

Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist apiece for the Kings, who lost for only the second time in eight games. Peter Budaj stopped 26 shots (see full recap).

DeKeyser gives Red Wings OT win over Isles
NEW YORK -- Danny DeKeyser scored 1:02 into overtime to give Detroit a victory over New York.

Mike Green scored twice and Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and assist for Detroit, which improved to 4-1-2 in its last seven games. Peter Mrazek stopped 32 shots to improve to 3-0-2 in his past five starts.

Anders Lee, Johnny Boychuk and Josh Bailey scored for New York, which had won a season-high three straight. Jaroslav Halak finished with 30 saves.

Detroit's Frans Nielsen had an assist while facing his former team for the first time since leaving the Islanders for a six-year, $31.5 million deal with the Red Wings last summer. The 32-year-old Danish center was selected by the Islanders in the third round of the 2002 draft and had 119 goals and 230 assists over 10 seasons in New York (see full recap).

Late goal lifts Jets over Blackhawks
CHICAGO -- Andrew Copp scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:45 left, Bryan Little got his third goal in three games and Winnipeg edged Chicago.

Copp beat Scott Darling on the stick side with a shot from the right circle that slipped just inside the left post.

Chicago's Artemi Panarin scored with 6:54 remaining to tie it at 1, moments after Copp hit the post, to spoil Connor Hellebuyck's bid for a second shutout against Chicago in less than a month. Panarin completed a give-and-go with Patrick Kane, beating Hellebuyck to the glove side.

Hellebuyck finished with 25 saves and outdueled Darling, who started his second straight game for the Blackhawks in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford. Darling made 30 saves, including three on breakaways.

Little's power-play goal with 43.4 seconds left in the second period was his fourth point in four games since missing 23 with a lower-body injury (see full recap)