For the second day in a row, the two marquee teams at the FIBA European Championships didn’t look that good. Spain was upset by a scrappy Serbia squad over the holiday weekend, then on Tuesday they struggled again with a team they rightfully should have 20-pieced. Playing without Ben Gordon or Luol Deng (or Michael Olowokandi — although that’s probably a good thing), Great Britain gave Pau Gasol and Co. all they could handle, taking a brief lead in the fourth quarter before Spain (sparked by a Pau three-pointer) got it together in time to hold on for a win. Gasol dropped 27 points and 11 boards, while Rudy Fernandez scored 13 and Ricky Rubio added five points and six assists. In case you’re wondering, Rubio is starting at PG ahead of Raul Lopez. His regular competition, Jose Calderon, isn’t playing in this tournament … Meanwhile, France had a tough time beating a Dirk-less German squad over the weekend, and it didn’t get any easier against Latvia yesterday. Again it was up to Tony Parker to take over in crunch time, as he scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half to help France edge out a win. Andris Biedrins grabbed 20 rebounds to go with six points for Latvia … Remember ex-UNLV big man Kaspers Kambala? He’s one of Latvia’s top players, putting up 18 points and seven boards yesterday. Kambala is coming off a two-year suspension for cocaine, and during his break he took up boxing, building a 2-0-1 record as a pro … In other FIBA Europe action: Hedo Turkoglu had a quiet eight points in just 15 minutes as Turkey blew out Bulgaria; Tal Burnstein scored 25 points for Israel in a loss to Macedonia; Jan Jagla, a Penn State alum who is basically playing the temporary role of Dirk for Germany, had 19 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Russia; Boki Nachbar had 17 points and nine boards in Slovenia’s win over Serbia; Roko Ukic (a.k.a Brandon Jennings‘ and Luke Ridnour‘s towel guy in Milwaukee) led Croatia with 15 points in a loss to Greece; and host country Poland knocked off Lithuania, getting 22 points and 10 boards from Maciej Lampe, and 15 points and 17 boards from Marcin Gortat … Dime #51 is out. We put Kevin Durant on the cover this time, catching up with KD for a long overdue cover shoot just as he was officially blowing up the NBA’s spot this summer at the Team USA camp in Vegas. Check out the digital Dime issue HERE, which includes a feature on Eric Gordon; a huge fashion spread/feature section on the ’09 NBA rookie class; and other stuff from the likes of Scottie Pippen and Danny Granger … Hopefully ending some recent trade rumors and providing the player in question some peace of mind, Pat Riley said the Heat organization is fully behind Michael Beasley while he goes through his rehab/counseling stint. “I was told this by somebody: Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future,” Riley said in an Associated Press interview. “You can’t put yourself above and beyond anybody. We all have periods where things haven’t gone our way for whatever reason, and we’ve all had an opportunity to grow. Because of what’s happened in the past, we hope there’s growth spurts for him.” … Not much as far as personnel moves in the NBA yesterday: Rodney Carney agreed to sign with the Sixers, which gives them a crazy athletic layup line crew of Carney, Thad Young, Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday, Marreese Speights and Andre Iguodala, but doesn’t greatly impact Philly in the standings one way or another … On that note, though, how good do you think Iguodala will be this year? Word is new Philly coach Eddie Jordan is envisioning A.I.2 as a big-time scorer in his system, and he’s got a little more confidence after having a few standout playoff moments last spring. Iguodala could be poised for one of those 23 ppg, 6 rpg, 6 apg, 2.5 spg seasons people were predicting when he was constantly compared to Pippen coming out of Arizona … Perhaps taking a clue from Michael Jordan‘s choosing of David Thompson to introduce him at the Hall of Fame, John Stockton said he’ll have Isiah Thomas usher him into the Hall. Stockton cited Zeke’s status as one of the small guards who changed the game. (Where did Isiah rank on the list of guys Jordan wanted to introduce him? Somewhere between Kwame Brown and Jerry Krause, we’d imagine.) Jerry Sloan will have Charles Barkley introduce him, which will inevitably turn into Barkley telling jokes about himself … We’re out like Kwame …
Smack / Sep 9, 2009 / 5:43 am
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