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Is bringing Brandon Ingram off the bench a bad idea for the Lakers?

A No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft is likely to be a starter right off the bat. However,  the Los Angeles Lakers have decided to take a different approach with Brandon Ingram.

Las Vegas Summer League 2016

Brandon Ingram will have to wait on his turn to be an NBA starter longer than expected. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

While speaking to the Los Angeles Daily News’ Mark Medina, Lakers head coach Luke Walton briefly commented on Ingram’s minutes once the season starts in October.

“We’re not going to throw him [Ingram] into the starting lineup right away,” said Walton. “You develop the young core by rewarding them when they play well.”

Walton is choosing to bring Ingram, a 19-year-old scoring machine, off the bench to start the 2016-17 season. The Lakers had the second-worst record (17-65) in the NBA  last season, setting a franchise record for losses in a season. The Lakers have set a franchise record for losses in three consecutive seasons, going 27-55 in 2013 and 21-61 in 2014.

The Lakers have only won 65 games in three years. Some teams, especially teams in the West, nearly win 65 games in just one season. Despite all of that, the Lakers want to bring Ingram, a kid who can potentially play a big role in turning the franchise around, off the bench.

“If there’s 10 games left in the season and out of the playoffs and there’s some vets that played long minutes all season, maybe you play all your young guys to finish out the season,” said Walton. “But when you’re going through the season, you’re not doing anyone any favors just by playing young guys so they can play if they’re not out there playing the right way.”

It all comes down to this — Luol Deng or Ingram?

Deng, 31, is a 12-year veteran who has had played an intricate role in playoff runs as a member of the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat. Deng has career averages of 15.5 points and 6.2 rebounds.

Ingram averaged 17.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in his lone season at Duke University and was named ACC Freshman of the Year. Ingram averaged 12.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in five games during the 2016 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Ingram scored 22 points and dished out four assists in the Lakers’ final Summer League game, a 92-88 loss to the Utah Jazz on July 15.

Ingram and Deng are both 6-9 small forwards. Deng is 220 pounds, giving him a 30-pound advantage over the wiry rookie. They’re both products of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s disciplined Duke Blue Devil system.

Deng is most likely going to be the starting small forward for a few weeks, maybe even months, making him the only starter in the 30-and-over club for the Lakers.

Nonetheless, Ingram is going to get a lot of playing time. The kid has been compared to Kevin Durant on many occassions because of his versatile scoring ability for crying out loud. If the Lakers want to compete in the standings, Ingram will eventually be a starter. He is just too good not to be.

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Cat battle: 3 reasons why No.6 Houston shouldn’t take Cincinnati lightly

The No. 6 Houston Cougars have outscored their opponents 75-23 early on in the college football season. But the Cincinnati Bearcats, who enter their Thursday night matchup with Houston at 2-0, seem to be a worthy opponent.

Here are 3 reasons why Cincinnati may have a shot at an upset:

1. Home-field advantage

The game is at Nippert Stadium, home of the Bearcats. Nippert has a capacity of 40,000. The Bearcats had 28,520 in attendance for their home opener against Tennessee-Martin. So best believe Cincinnati’s fanbase will show up big time against an opponent like Houston.

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Can Hayden Moore lead the Bearcats to victory on Thursday night? photo| Getty Images

2. Both teams’ numbers point to a shootout

Houston and Cincinnati average 37 and 33 points per game, respectively. Houston averages 460.5 yards, while Cincinnati is right behind at 456.

Although Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. is an early Heisman trophy candidate, Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore has had slightly better passing numbers through through two games (primarily because Ward missed last week’s game against Lamar due to a shoulder injury). Moore has 510 yards, 189 more yards than Ward. Moore has also thrown five touchdown passes, while Ward has only thrown two.

Houston’s defense is stingy toward opposing rushers, giving up just 42.5 yards on the ground per game. However, Cincinnati averages 201 rushing yards per game. Moore has shown he can do more than pass, scoring two rushing touchdowns in a 38-20 win over Purdue last week . Additionally, Cincinnati has two solid running backs from the state of Florida in Tion Greene and Mike Boone, who have split the carries pretty equally thus far.

3. Mike Tyson

No, not the boxer. He’s a senior safety for Cincinnati. Tyson is currently tied for the most interceptions in the nation (3) with Ohio State safety Malik Hooker. Tyrell Gilbert, another Cincinnati safety, is third in the nation in interception yards (84) and already has two picks. Cincinnati has a few playmakers in the secondary, which could play a major factor on Thursday night.

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US men’s basketball routs Serbia, wins third straight Olympic gold

The last time USA faced Serbia in the 2016 Rio Olympics , USA won by just three points in the preliminary round. However, in the gold-medal game on Sunday, Team USA was on a mission to destroy.

The mission did not start early on, as Serbia took the lead in the beginning of the game. USA did not take its first lead until DeMarcus Cousins made a layup to make it 16-14 with 1-05 left in the first quarter. The score was 19-15 at the end of the first.

The next quarter belonged to Team USA, as it outscored Serbia 33-14 in the second on the way to a 52-29 lead by halftime. USA ended the half on a 40-15 run.

Kevin Durant reeled off eight straight points in a span of just 59 seconds, giving the U.S. a 13-point lead with 6-56 left in the first half. Durant scored 18 of his 24 first-half points in in the second, shooting 4-of-5 from three-point range in the quarter.

Cousins already had a double-double by the first half, pulling down 12 rebounds and scoring eight of his 11 points in the second quarter. Cousins was also 7-of-9 on free throws in the first half.

Things only got worse for Serbia in the second half. USA outscored Serbia 27-14 in the third quarter. Despite outscoring USA 23-17 in the fourth quarter, Serbia was down by 30 when the clock hit double zeros. USA won 96-66, capturing its third straight Men’s basketball gold.

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USA took care of business against Serbia on Sunday.   photo| Associated Press

Durant, who did not play in the fourth quarter, finished with a game-high 30 points on 10-of-19 shooting. Cousins had 13 points and 15 rebounds off the bench.

USA won the battle on the boards, grabbing 54 rebounds, which was 20 more rebounds than Serbia. DeAndre Jordan had a game-high three blocks, which was more than Serbia (2) had altogether.

Serbia was held to 4-of-24 from behind the the three-point line and 37.7 percent from the field. Serbian center Nikola Jokic, who had 25 points in the first matchup against USA, had just six points.

A lack of ball movement and whether or not USA still played a dominant role in international basketball were major concerns throughout the tournament. But Team USA had 23 assists and all 12 players on the roster scored against Serbia on Sunday. Additionally, USA outscored its opponents 807-654 throughout the tournament, finishing 8-0 overall.

Key Notes:

  • Carmelo Anthony became the first player in USA Men’s basketball history to win three Olympic gold medals.
  • It was Durant’s second Olympic gold. It was the first gold for the other 10 players.
  • USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski is now the winningest coach in USA basketball history, becoming the first coach to win three Olympic gold medals. Krzyzewski is stepping down and will be replaced by San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich at the start of the 2017-2020 Tokyo Olympics cycle. Krzyzewski finished a perfect 24-0 in his three-year Olympic tenure as head coach.
  • USA has now won gold in six out of the last seven Olympic Men’s basketball tournaments. Argentina won gold in Athens in 2004; USA won bronze that year.
  • Durant became the second USA player to score 30 or more points in a gold-medal game; Adrian Dantley scored 32 against Yugoslavia in 1976.

 

* Information from NBA.com, ESPN and The Basketball World.com were used in this report.

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Brazil wins Olympic soccer tournament for first time behind Neymar’s heroics

Coming into its matchup against Germany on Saturday, Brazil had won every single major international soccer tournament except the Olympics. But thanks to its star forward, Brazil finally captured the elusive gold medal at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

As if he had not already done so prior to Saturday, Neymar — who is essentially a rock star in Brazil — stole the hearts of his country in dramatic fashion. The 24-year-old superstar led a revengeful charge against Germany, who crushed Brazil 7-1 in the 2014 World Cup semi-final.

The match was knotted at zero for the first 26 minutes, until Brazil’s captain decided to put on his superman cape. Neymar scored the only goal in the first half in the 27th minute with a stunning free kick, which curled over the German defense and its goalkeeper, before ricocheting off the top of the crossbar and into the net.

However, Germany answered back in the second half. Jeremy Toljan delivered a cross into the box in the 59th minute, which was received and then put into the net by Maximilian Meyer.

Both teams would not score for the rest of the second half, resulting in extra time. Despite a few scoring chances on both sides, especially from Germany’s star forward Serge Gnabry , who had six goals in the tournament coming into Saturday, neither side was able to score in extra time. Brazil and Germany went to a second extra time period but still, no goals.

Although there was not much scoring in the first 120 minutes, there was plenty of offense in the shootout. Both teams went 4-for-4 before Nils Peterson, who like Gnabry, had six goals in the tournament, was denied by Brazil goalkeeper Weverton.

This set the stage for Neymar to bring it home in front of his entire country. And like the hero he is expected to be, Neymar delivered in a storybook finish.

Neymar gave a hesitated run-up and drilled the ball into the net, making the game-winning shot before falling to the ground and crying tears of joy.

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Emotions ran high for both Neymar and his teammates as they embraced each other in front of their home crowd. photo| Getty Images

Brazil’s fans as well as the players were crying and chanting happily for minutes as they celebrated the country’s first Olympic gold medal in soccer.  Germany was of course, disappointed but greeted the crowd to show its appreciation to the home fans and the rest of fans in attendance. Germany’s goalkeeper, Timo Horn, was the last German player to leave the pitch, as he exited through the tunnel with a flushed, red face.

On another note, Neymar is such a hot topic right now, that he has got longtime college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, a guy who has nothing to do with soccer, praising him.

If you have Dickie V shouting you out, you’re a pretty big deal, baby!

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Braves phenom makes MLB debut, gets first hit in second at-bat

It only took Dansby Swanson two at-bats to get into the swing of things in the majors, as the highly touted prospect went 2-for-4 at the plate in his MLB debut for the Atlanta Braves.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Atlanta Braves

Dansby Swanson’s hitting skills were on display in his MLB debut. | Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Swanson, the No.1 overall selection in the 2015 MLB Draft, got his first career hit in the fourth inning of a 10-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.

With two outs and no runners on base, Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson delivered a 94 mph fastball into the box. Batting at the eighth spot in the lineup, Swanson then lined a single to right field, receiving chants and screams from the fans of Turner Field as he stood on first base.

The 22-year-old shortstop’s first at-bat was in the second inning, in which he lined out to center field. Swanson suffered a strikeout in the seventh but managed to get his second hit of the night on a single to center field in the bottom of the ninth.

The Braves traded veteran shortstop Erick Aybar to the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, clearing the way for Swanson to come in and get plenty of defensive reps early on in his career.

The former Vanderbilt University standout took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his thankfulness towards the Braves’ organization.

While playing for the Mississippi Braves in Double-A, Swanson was hitting .275 with nine homers and 55 RBI. Swanson also had 13 stolen bases in the minors this year.

Expect this kid to be a good utility player for the Braves in the future. They could use it at 44-76.

The Braves’ new ballpark, SunTrust Park, is currently under construction and will be located in Cobb County, near Swanson’s hometown of Kennesaw, Georgia.

SunTrust Park will reportedly be finished in February 2017, giving Swanson plenty of time to hone his skills in the majors before he plays ball in front of fans in Cobb.

 

 

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Seriously, dude? DeAndre Jordan values Olympics golds over NBA rings

What’s worth more, NBA championships or Olympic gold? USA center DeAndre Jordan is apparently going with the Olympics in this argument.

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DeAndre Jordan is two wins away from becoming a gold medalist in his first Olympic nod. | Getty Images

In an interview with ESPN prior to USA’s quarterfinal matchup against Argentina on Wednesday night, Jordan explained why he sees more importance in winning Olympic gold than winning an NBA title.

“I think they’re above NBA rings,” Jordan said. “I may get in trouble for saying that, but I believe that. I feel like this is more special. You’re not just playing teams in the U.S. You’re playing teams from all over the world. And this is even more special because there’s an NBA champion crowned every year, but this is every four years.”

Jordan, an eight-year veteran, has never made it past the Western Conference Semifinals as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers. He does not even know what NBA gold feels like. So how would he know.

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No NBA rings, no problem for the eight-year veteran. | Jaime Valdez- USA TODAY Sports

One of Jordan’s current teammates, two-time gold medalist Carmelo Anthony, seems to have a similar mindset on winning in the Olympics versus winning in the NBA.

Unlike Jordan, Anthony did not go to the extent of saying winning gold is better than a championship. However, in a separate interview with ESPN last week, Anthony did express his satisfaction with Olympic gold because he could “look back on it when my career is over — if I don’t have an NBA championship ring — and say I had a great career.”

Anthony is a 13-year veteran and like Jordan, has never won an NBA championship.

Sorry, fellas. You’re busted. Just because Anthony said something along the same lines does not justify it for Jordan. It is as if Jordan is using the Rio Olympics as a method to get NBA followers to forget the Clippers cannot win championships.  Guess what? They will not forget.

Granted, Jordan averaged a monstrous 12.7 points, 13.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while earning First Team All-NBA honors for the first time in 2015-2016. But the Clippers did not make it past the first round of the playoffs last year, as they lost to the Portland Trail Blazers.

All of a sudden , Jordan is tickled to pink at the thought of winning a gold medal. The U.S. has won gold in basketball the past two Olympics. “Victory” is pretty much stamped on each USA player’s forehead when they go to the Olympics.

The Clippers failed to beat a Damian Lillard-led Trail Blazers squad in the first round of the playoffs last year but Jordan thinks beating the likes of teams like Argentina or China for that matter, is more important than winning an NBA championship.

To each is own.

Jordan had just two points and four rebounds in 13 minutes of action in USA’s 105-78 victory over Argentina on Wednesday. Jordan may play a bigger role in USA’s next game, which is on Friday against Spain. Spain is led by center Pau Gasol, who may likely be matched up against Jordan.

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U.S. answer George’s critique, finish 5-0 in Rio prelims

Paul George made it clear he was not happy with the lack of ball movement Team USA had in a narrow victory over Serbia on Friday.

“We just gotta start getting some movement,” George said after the game on NBCSN. “We’re relying on our natural talent so much. It’s so easy to guard us. Teams are just loading up and watching us play one-on-one.”

But George and his teammates had no problem swinging the rock against France on Sunday.

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USA got back to working together against France. photo| Getty Images

USA’s first bucket came in the first 25 seconds of the game, when Kyrie Irving pushed the ball up the court before finding DeMarcus Cousins for a monster slam.

The first quarter consisted of a series of ties and lead changes, as Nando De Colo and Thomas Heurtel handled the scoring for France early on.

Kevin Durant, who attempted just four shots against Serbia, started the game with nine quick points on 4-of-4 shooting. USA had 10 assists in the first quarter and headed into the second with a 30-24 lead.

The unselfish play continued for USA in the following quarter. Carmelo Anthony, who did not even attempt a field goal in the first,  did not take his first shot of the game until 6:37 left in the second.

France cut the deficit to four on a three-pointer from De Colo but USA stretched its lead to nine by halftime. De Colo had 14 points and 5 assists at the half. Both teams shot 19-of-34 from the field in the first half. The margin heading into the locker room was because the U.S. hit 14 foul shots, while France only hit six. The U.S. also hit three shots from behind the three-point line; France made just two.

Klay Thompson came into the game averaging only 2.8 points and was 3-of-16 from three-point range. But Thompson finally found his touch again on Sunday, especially in the third quarter. Thompson erupted in the quarter, hitting five three-pointers, as USA went into the fourth quarter up 81-69.

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Klay Thompson finally got out of his funk on Sunday. photo| Chicago Tribune

Led by a few key baskets from Joffrey Lauvergne and Mickael Gelabale, France made a run in the fourth and were able to make it 85-81 with just over five minutes left.

A couple of clutch three-pointers from Anthony in the final four minutes allowed USA to widen its lead to ten points. France went on a 7-0 run to end the game but USA came away with its second three-point victory in a row by a final score of 100-97.

Nicolas Batum had 14 points for France. De Colo and Heurtel had 18 points apiece. Heurtel also had a team-high nine assists in the loss. Lauvergne had 12 points off the bench.

George’s call for more ball movement from his USA teammates was answered. USA had 32 assists as a team, which was four more than France had. Irving had a hame-high 12 assists to go along with 10 points. Anthony had five assists and added 10 points.

Durant had 17 points and was perfect from the field, going 6-of-6. Thompson had a game-high 30 points and went 7-of-13 from three, tying Durant’s Olympic record for three-point attempts.

USA finishes the preliminary round of the 2016 Rio Olympics atop Group A with a record of 5-0. With the loss, France is in third place in Group A at 3-2. Australia, which beat France, is in second place.

The quarterfinals begin on Wednesday, Aug. 17. USA will face the No.4 seed in Group B, which will likely be Brazil or Croatia.

Information from CBS Sports was used in this report.