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Smack / Jul 29, 2012 / 6:50 am

Team USA gets ready for Tony Parker; Orlando gets a coach

There was only one potential Olympic upset that could’ve possibly overshadowed a USA men’s basketball loss this weekend — and it actually happened on Saturday when Michael Phelps finished way back in fourth place during his first race against breakout superstar Ryan Lochte. So if LeBron, Kobe and Team USA drop their Olympic opener to France on Sunday morning, maybe that won’t be the biggest story of London’s first weekend … Yeah, right. The most scrutinized team in the world begins their gold-medal defense against Tony Parker‘s squad, and of course nothing less than a blowout win will be acceptable to the masses. For all of its star power (six NBA players), though, France often seems to come up short in these big tournaments. Some of the same problems that have plagued the U.S. in the past — lack of chemistry, guys not quite sure of their roles, probably taking some opponents lightly — have also bitten France. But this year’s group is reportedly more focused and ready to make it to the medal stand. Parker does have that eye injury courtesy of Drake and Chris Brown‘s catfight, so there’s your excuse if he happens to not play like one of the best point guards on the planet, but this game could really be a battle for the gold-medal favorites … Other Day 1 games include Nigera vs. Tunisia, Australia vs. Brazil, China vs. Spain, Great Britain vs. Russia, and Lithuania vs. Argentina … Yesterday we showed you photographic evidence that U.S. high jumper Erik Kynard looks almost exactly like Kobe Bryant. Kynard also happens to be the only person on Earth who looks like Kobe and has more hops than Kobe. Have you seen any other NBA/Olympic look-alikes? U.S. gymnast John Orozco kind of looks like he could be Al Horford‘s baby brother, and he could probably balance himself on Al’s head with one hand … The U.S. women’s basketball team took care of business against Croatia in their Saturday opener, but only after struggling through the first three quarters. Angel McCoughtry (13 pts) eventually sparked a 16-0 run in the fourth that put Croatia away. Candace Parker finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Tina Charles had 14 and 10 boards … The Orlando Magic finally have a head coach, hiring Jacque Vaughn to lead the team’s rebuilding effort. At least we’re pretty sure they’re rebuilding. GM Rob Hennigan keeps talking like there’s a chance Dwight Howard is staying with the team, but does anybody believe him? Best-case scenario for Orlando is that this goes just like the Carmelo Anthony situation, with a mid-season Dwight trade bringing the Magic a respectable haul for their disgruntled superstar. Either way, if he has Dwight for three months or for three days, Vaughn won’t be (or at least shouldn’t be) expected to have this team vying for a high seed in the East right away. Just add the Magic to the list of teams that seemed like legit conference contenders not too long ago but are now nothing more than tune-up material for the Miami Heat … One potential upside for Vaughn: Spending all of that time around J.J. Redick allows him to finally improve his jump shot … The Grizzlies re-signed Hamed Haddadi. Why? … We’re out like Jacque’s jumper …

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