Even before the tournament field was set, Spain vs. France was the most anticipated matchup at the FIBA European Championships. With both squads only missing a couple of their high-profile players — Jose Calderon and Sergio Rodriguez for Spain, Joakim Noah and Mickael Pietrus for France — these were clearly the two most star-studded rosters and favorites in the tourney. Throw in the drama of Spain looking very vulnerable thanks to some early-round struggles, and it was at least expected to be interesting. But then in yesterday’s quarterfinal matchup, Spain laid the hammer down in a 20-piecing that wasn’t even competitive. Rudy Fernandez (16 pts, 6 stls, 5 rebs) knocked down three triples in the first quarter as Spain got out to a blazing start and never looked back. Pau Gasol put up 28 points, nine boards and three blocks, and Ricky Rubio had eight points and four dimes. Ronny Turiaf (12 pts, 3 stls) was the only French player in double figures, as Tony Parker went 1-for-8 from the field (6 pts) and Boris Diaw had nine points … In Thursday’s other FIBA Europe game, Uros Tripkovic scored 18 to lead Serbia over Russia. Today it’s Turkey vs. Greece and Slovenia vs. Croatia in the other half of the quarterfinals … All of a sudden, it’s like Gilbert Arenas is making up for his quiet summer. While we’d heard reports about Agent Zero wrecking shop on D.C. playgrounds and in Chicago gyms, without hearing Arenas himself bragging about it (he still doesn’t have a Twitter account, as far as we know), it was almost like it wasn’t really happening. Now Arenas has emerged from his cave, start talking sh*t to make up for the sh*t-talking he wasn’t doing this offseason. “Nobody could guard me before, and can’t nobody guard me now,” Arenas said in yesterday’s Washington Times. Surely the Wizards are loving the extra swag, but then Arenas started taking shots at the franchise, partially blaming them for his injury problems. “They should have held me back,” Arenas said, “rather than saying, ‘Let’s let this guy do what he wants and use him to sell tickets.’” In other words, Gil admitted that he rushed his own recovery, but believes the Wizards should have known he’d rush it, since he’s wired to do that. We would’ve loved to be in the room with the people who signed Arenas to that $111 million contract to see their reactions … The Heat announced that they’ll be retiring Tim Hardaway‘s #10 on opening night next season (versus the Knicks). OK, Golden State, what are you waiting for? … Wasn’t it just a couple months ago that Danny Ainge was talking kind of bad about Rajon Rondo and reportedly trying to trade him? Now Ainge is saying the Celtics are eager to get Rondo inked to a contract extension and “consider him a big part of our future.” Maybe watching the Summer of Stephon unfold made Ainge realize how lucky he is to have a super-talented PG who’s also sane … Going out on a limb that the 2010 NBA’s Most Improved Player won’t drop 25 points a game like Danny Granger, we rolled out our Top 5 contenders for MIP. Trevor Ariza leads the pack, followed by some other young dudes poised to blow up … The Kings just got a little more watchable, signing Desmond Mason to a one-year deal. Do you realize Des Made is going into his TENTH year in the League? It’s partially surprising because he still looks like he did in college, partially because he still has plenty of bounce in his legs, and partially because his jumper is as under-developed as a college kid’s … On the other end of the spectrum, the Blazers signed Juwan Howard. Earlier this week the team hired Hersey Hawkins to a front-office position — we’d say it’s about even odds on which guy could contribute more on the court this year. Juwan has the size and has been playing recently, but we can see The Hawk banging jumper after jumper in his face … We’re out like Run-TMC …
Smack / Sep 18, 2009 / 4:17 am
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