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Argentina slips by Brazil in down-to-the-wire contest

In a matchup between two geographic rivals, Argentina and Brazil battled on Saturday. This go-round, the two soccer-crazed nations did not meet on the pitch; they clashed on the hardwood.

Brazil came into the game at 1-2 in the preliminary round of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Argentina was 2-1.

Basketball - Olympics: Day 4

Despite his small stature, Facundo Campazzo played big for Argentina on Saturday. Photo| Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Nene was the early catalyst for Brazil, scoring six points in the first few minutes of the contest. But it was Argentina that had the better quarter. Led by a 12-point outburst by Andres Nocioni in the first quarter, Argentina was up 28-19 heading into the second quarter.

Brazil went on a 33-16 run in the second, mainly because of the bench play.

Brazil scored an astounding 34 bench points in the first half; Argentina had only two. One of those bench players, Vitor Benite, was a major factor in Brazil’s second-quarter comeback, as he hit a three-pointer midway through the second to give Brazil its first lead since early in the first.

Brazil was up 52-44 at halftime. Argentina was kept alive by Nocioni’s 21 first-half points.

Then, it was Argentina’s turn to make a comeback in the third quarter.

The third was headlined by strong inside play from Nene and scrappy play from 5-foot-11 point guard Facundo Campazzo. Campazzo hit a couple of buckets in the third but his most timely basket in regulation came with three minutes left, when Campazzo hit a floater to give Argentina its first lead since midway through the second. The peskiness of Argentina helped them close the gap to just five points heading into the final quarter.

Nene carried his inside dominance into the fourth with a thunderous dunk over Luis Scola, making it 74-67. After much back-and-forth scoring, Campazzo knocked down a three-pointer with under two minutes left, making it 83-80. Campazzo was fouled on a shot attempt with 22 seconds left and drained both free-throws, making it a one-point game.

Manu Ginobili fouled Brazil’s Marcelo Huertas on an inbounds pass on the following possession. Huertas made both free throws. Ginobili missed a three to tie it but the ball found its way into Nocioni’s hands. Nocioni drained a game-tying three in the left corner with 3.8 seconds left.

On the final possession of regulation, Nene drove the ball into the paint before dishing it to Huertas, who missed the mid-range shot. Both teams headed into overtime tied  85-85.

Nene scored four points on two easy layups in overtime before Alex Garcia hit a three, giving Brazil a 94-88 lead. After a Campazzo layup, Nocioni knocked in another clutch three-pointer to bring Argentina within one with just under a minute left in overtime.

Marcus Vinicius went 1-of-2 from the line to put Brazil up 95-93. But then, surprise, surprise, Campazzo darted in for a layup to tie the game up again.

Brazil’s Raul Neto missed a three-pointer and then Ginobili failed to connect on a floater for Argentina. The game was headed to double overtime.

Campazzo opened up double overtime with back-to-back unanswered threes, giving Argentina a 101-95 advantage. Then, Leandro Barbosa, who was quiet for most of the game, scored nine straight points for Brazil, cutting the margin to one near the final minute.

Campazzo, who went 10-of-12 from the charity stripe, went 3-0f-4 from the line in the final minute. After a pair of Barbosa free throws made the score 109-107, Argentina dribbled a good amount of time off the clock before Brazil fouled Carlos Delfino with three seconds left.

Delfino missed both shots, but on the second miss, Ginobili grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled with 2.6 seconds left. Ginobili, being the battle-tested veteran he is, hit both free-throws. Facing a four-point deficit, Brazil could not do much but heave the ball down the court one last time. Argentina escaped with a 111-107 victory over Brazil in double overtime.

Both teams shot 46 percent from the field. Argentina was 17-of-42 from three, while Brazil shot 9-of-26 from three.

With the win, Argentina improves to 3-1 in Group B. Campazzo had 33 points and 11 assists. Nocioni scored an Olympic career-high 37 points.

Nene had a team-high 24 points for Brazil, which is now 1-3 in Group B and is in danger of not making it past the preliminary round.

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USA wins nailbiter over Serbia, improve to 4-0 in Rio Olympics

Team USA basketball surprisingly faced its toughest challenge yet– a Serbian team led by 6-10, 250-pound Nikola Jokic.

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The U.S. started the game on a 9-0 run before Jokic, who is currently a center for the Denver Nuggets, cruised in for a dunk to put Serbia on the scoreboard early in the first quarter. USA’s 23-5 lead in the first quarter was its biggest lead of the game. The U.S. ended the quarter with a 12-point lead.

Nemanja Nedovic, the No. 30 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, hit a three in the beginning of the second quarter to cut Serbia’s deficit to single digits. It was a back-and-forth quarter as Serbia held its ground, heading into the locker room down 50-41. Kyrie Irving had a team-high 11 points for USA at halftime.

Led by former Milwaukee Bucks center Miroslav Raduljica and Euroleague champion Milos Teodosic, Serbia was able to cut the lead to five midway through the third quarter. Although Serbia outscored USA 22-21 in the third, USA took a 72-62 lead into the fourth.

Jokic knocked in a three-pointer at the beginning of the fourth, cutting USA’s lead to seven. Jokic hit another three-pointer with just over three minutes to make it 90-85. Teodosic knocked down a pair of free-throws down the stretch, making it 94-91.

The U.S. failed to score on two straight possessions in the final minute, giving Serbia a chance to tie the game. On Serbia’s final possession, Teodosic was able to shake free from U.S. defenders before finding Bogdan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic got an open look and launched the three-pointer but it was off the mark. USA walked away with a 94-91 victory.

Jokic had a game-high 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting to go along with six rebounds. Teodosic scored 18 points and dished out six assists. Raduljica added 18 points to Serbia’s total. Bogdanovic, a former first-round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, had seven points in the loss.

Irving led the U.S. in scoring with 15 points. Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George had 12 points apiece. Deandre Jordan and DeMar DeRozan both came off the bench to score 13 and 11 points, respectively. Klay Thompson, who has been struggling with his shot in Rio, had just three points on 1-of-6 shooting.

USA won its first two contests in Rio by a combined 100 points. Against Australia and Serbia, USA only won by a combined 13 points.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Carmelo Anthony: Greatest player in U.S. Olympic basketball history?

Carmelo Anthony has nearly 300 reasons why he has cemented himself as the greatest scorer in Team USA’s glorious basketball history. Which leads to the question; is Anthony not only the best scorer, but also the best player ever to lace up for the red,white and blue?

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Carmelo Anthony started burning up the Olympic scoreboard in 2004 and has not let off the gas since then. photo| Fox Sports

In USA’s 113-69 win over Venezuela on Monday, Anthony reached 262 points for his Olympic career, passing Michael Jordan (256) for third on the all-time USA Olympic scoring list.

Anthony stamped his name in the record books once again in a 98-88 victory over Australia on Wednesday. In a 31-point effort, Anthony became the all-time leading scorer in U.S. Olympic basketball history. Anthony’s 293 points moved him past David Robinson (270) and LeBron James (273).

Anthony was a long-range sniper against Australia, going 9-of-15 from three-point range. His three-point barrage came as no surprise, as Anthony is the all-time Olympic leader in three-point field goals made (35). Anthony also holds records for most points in a single Olympic game (37) and most games played for Team USA (26).

Anthony has not won an NBA championship in his entire 13-year career. However, the 32-year-old forward has tasted victory quite a bit as a Olympic athlete. He won a bronze medal in his first stint with Team USA in the 2004 Olympics and won gold in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

In an interview with ESPN at the Rio Olympics, Anthony briefly spoke on his decorative Olympic career.

“I can 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 still has two preliminary games and the medal round to improve on his impressive Olympic resume. USA faces Serbia today at 6 p.m. ET. Then, USA will face France on Sunday before the quarterfinals start on August 17.

If USA wins the gold medal in Rio, Anthony will become the only player in U.S. Olympic basketball history to win three gold medals. Nobody, not even a member of the 1992 “Dream Team”, Kobe Bryant or LeBron has won three gold medals.

Not bad for a guy who has never won an NBA title.

 

Information from CBS Sports, Basketball Reference and USAB.com were used in this report.

 

 

 

 

 

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Amari Cooper said what?

Amari Cooper had 1,070 receiving yards in 2015, becoming the first rookie in Oakland Raiders history to have 1,000 receiving yards in a single season. Surprisingly,  the second-year wideout recently expressed his play was hindered by a foot injury last season.

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Despite a phenomenal rookie year, Amari Cooper says a foot injury slowed him down in 2015. photo| Bleacher Report

According to Around the NFL‘s Chris Wesseling, during an interview with San Francisco radio station KGMZ, Cooper said he didn’t even want to watch any film on his injury-ridden rookie year because “I wasn’t really myself.”

What?

“I think it affected everything,” Cooper said. “Me being a receiver, it affected my whole game. Talk about a foot injury, you can’t release how you want to, you can’t come out of your breaks how you want to. You can only get open in two ways, off of the line or out of your breaks.”

Again, what? Don’t be so hard on yourself, kid.

This is the same guy who at 21 years of age, caught 72 passes, six touchdowns and averaged 14.9 yards per catch in 15 games last year; the same guy who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Cooper had five 100-yard receiving games and became the first NFL rookie since Chicago Bears tight end Mike Ditka (1961) to record three 100-yard receiving performances in his team’s first six games.

The 22-year-old receiver suffered his foot injury in December and a quadriceps injury in November. These injuries slowed the star receiver up in the ladder part of the 2015-16 season, causing him to gain just 20 yards or less in three of the last four games of the regular season.

Cooper is reportedly back to full health, as his Raiders look to pursue a better finish than their 7-9 record in 2015.

 

Information from Pro Football Talk and NFL.com were used in this report.

 

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Is Harrison Barnes really worth $94 million?

In an offseason highlighted by NBA franchises handing out dollar bills to free agents like Monopoly money, a major question remains; can Harrison Barnes become an “it” guy?

As a free agent this summer, Barnes left the Golden State Warriors, the team he won an NBA championship with in 2015. He signed a four-year, $94 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks back in July, giving the 24-year-old forward an average salary of $23.5 million.

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Harrison Barnes’ previous rookie contract with Golden State was a four-year, $8.78 million deal. photo| USA Today

Good for Barnes, who has made his mark in the league as a versatile defender and solid scorer. However, Barnes’ career numbers suggests he has some proving to do as a new member of the Mavericks.

The 6-8, 225-pound forward has career averages of 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 28.1 minutes per game. Barnes averaged a career-high 30.9 minutes in 2015.

Despite averaging just 0.7 steals and  0.2 blocks in his four-year career thus far, Barnes has developed into a sound defender. Golden State frequently assigned Barnes to covering the opposition’s best power forwards and frontcourt players.

Barnes is an underrated shooter on the offensive side of the ball. He shoots 37.6 percent from three-point range and 44.6 percent from the field.

A major reason his scoring ability is so commonly overlooked is because when Barnes is mentioned, it’s easy to think one thing–posterization. And for good reason.

This dunk happened during an exhibition game against China last month. Barnes is currently participating in the 2016 Rio Olympics as a member of Team USA for the first time in his career. Barnes logged 8 points and 4 rebounds in 13 minutes in USA’s 119-62 win over China in their first preliminary game of the Olympic tournament.

Barnes, 24, is the youngest player on the Team USA roster. Despite his youth, he will play a lot of minutes for the Mavericks in 2016-17. But can a player who averaged  11.7 points and a little under five boards turn into a No. 1 option for an NBA franchise?

Maybe Barnes isn’t supposed to be a No. 1 option. Maybe he is a fun project for Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to take on. The point is, the Mavericks need a young guy who the franchise can mold into a stud for years to come; a guy who can pave the way to NBA supremacy.

Barnes is no Dirk Nowitzki. But he has a helluva lot of potential.

And who doesn’t like tomahawk slams?

$94 million is not normal. Clearly, Barnes is not normal either. Expect those numbers to take a big jump in 2016.

 

Information from Spotrac, Bleacher ReportBasketball Reference and ESPN were used in this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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49ers re-sign tackle machine, look to rebound from poor year defensively

Horrific–a word fitting for the San Francisco 49ers’ 2015-16 season. But the franchise has taken a step in the right direction by retaining one of the NFL’s most ferocious headhunters.

49ers Photos@49ers.com

A new contract extension gives NaVorro Bowman some extra motivation to continue bulldozing through opposing offenses. photo| 49ers.com

NaVorro Bowman signed a four-year, $44 million contract extension with the 49ers on Wednesday night, according to league sources. With this extension, Bowman becomes the second-highest paid inside linebacker in the NFL behind Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Bowman, 28, has three-years left on his prior deal. The Niners reportedly increased his payout over the next three years, awarding the inside linebacker an extra $6 million over the next two seasons and an extra $3.45 million in 2018. In total, Bowman is looking at $67.55 million over the next seven years.

Of Bowman’s new contract extension, which has the inside linebacker locked in until 2022, $20 million is guaranteed.

Not only does the extension mean more money for the linebacker; it also gives Bowman, who carries the nickname”Big Money”, more years to build on his legacy as a Niner.

Since entering the league in 2010, Bowman has racked up 636 total tackles. Bowman had at least 143 tackles all three seasons between 2011 and 2013 before sitting out the entire 2014 season due to tears in both his left ACL and MCL.

Bowman came back off his injury like a man on a mission in 2015, as he piled up a league-leading 154 tackles last season and made his third Pro Bowl.

Despite Bowman’s success, his team was plagued with losses in 2015.The 49ers were among the NFL’s worst defenses as the team finished last in the NFC West at 5-11. San Fransisco finished 29th in total defense and 27th in pass defense. They were also the fourth-worst in sacks (28) and were tied with the Atlanta Falcons for most rushing touchdowns allowed (20) in the entire NFL.

If there is any football fan out there questioning whether or not Bowman is worth being paid so much, open your eyes. In an offseason where head coach Chip Kelly is facing a dilemma in choosing between quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert as well as trying to repair a broken defense, the franchise needs some reassurance.

Hence, Mr. Bowman. Any NFL team could use a guy who is good for 140-plus tackles, winning or not.

 

Information from Pro Football Talk, Spotrac and NFL.com were used in this report.

 

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Westbrook agrees to three-year, $85 million extension with OKC

Russell Westbrook will be playing a couple more years in an Oklahoma City uniform. According to league sources, the All-Star guard has agreed to a three-year, $85.7 million contract extension with the Thunder.

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Russell Westbrook will be terrorizing the NBA in blue and orange at least until the end of 2018-19. photo| USA Today

The 27-year-old will sign the contract on Thursday in Oklahoma City, sources said.

Westbrook’s salary for the 2016-17 season will now jump from $17.8 million to $26.5. Westbrook will reportedly earn the max the following two seasons, giving him the remaining $59.2 million on the deal.

There is a possibility the eight-year veteran could earn even more money than what is on paper. Westbrook’s contract will give him a player option for the third season because of a league rule allowing players who have completed 10 seasons to receive a larger max salary.

Rumors about Westbrook leaving the Thunder, who drafted him fourth overall in 2008, had been circulating around the NBA for months, especially after the departure of Kevin Durant this summer.

Although Westbrook is now without his longtime partner in crime, he will be playing with some newly acquired talent. During the night of the 2016 NBA Draft, the Thunder traded forward Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic in exchange for guard Victor Oladipo, forward Ersan Ilyasova and Domantas Sabonis, who was selected at No.11 in the draft.

Westbrook tore up the the NBA last season, averaging 23.5 points on the way to his first All-NBA first team selection in his career. Westbrook also led all NBA guards in rebounds per game (7.8) and finished second in assists (10.4). The five-time All-Star also won his second straight All-Star Game MVP award in 2016.

Additionally, Westbrook became synonymous with another great point guard last year. Westbrook had 18 triple-doubles in 2015-16, tying Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in a single season in the past 50 years.

On April 11, Westbrook registered his eighth career triple double in 30 minutes or less, which is the most in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55). On May 24, the Long Beach, Calif. native recorded his fifth career playoff triple-double against the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.

It is probably a good idea the Thunder decided to keep this guy around.

 

 

Information from ESPN, NBA.comSB Nation and Basketball-Reference were used in this report.