USA vs. Serbia: 2014 FIBA Gold Medal Game Score and Twitter Reaction

There was never a doubt for the red, white and blue.

Team USA destroyed Serbia in the 2014 FIBA World Cup final to the tune of 129-92. Kyrie Irving led the way with 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field and 6-of-6 from downtown, while James Harden added 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

Irving was named the MVP for the World Cup, while NBA on ESPN shared the entire all-tournament team:

Nikola Kalinic and Nemanja Bjelica each scored 18 points for Serbia. 

The blowout victory in the championship game completed a World Cup where the Americans were never challenged. In fact, their closest winning margin in nine games was 21 points over Turkey in the group stage.

The entire 2014 FIBA World Cup was supposed to be all about a showdown between the United States and Spain in the championship game. France ruined that by shocking Spain in the quarterfinals, and then Serbia knocked out France in the semis.

The Americans would have none of the upset bug.

However, it was Serbia that jumped out to an early eight-point lead in the first quarter. Perhaps Team USA expected to simply roll over Serbia just by showing up, which would explain the slow start. Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press noted that the early deficit was uncharted territory for Mike Krzyzewski’s team:

Grantland’s Zach Lowe and Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk described just how Serbia took an early lead:

Irving then decided to take matters into his own hands. The Cavaliers point guard scored 15 early points and started 6-of-8 from the field and 3-of-3 from behind the three-point line. NBA on ESPN and Duke Basketball gave him a shoutout:

Behind Irving’s efforts, the Americans seized a 35-21 lead after the first quarter.

Team USA extended its lead in the second quarter, but not without some concern. Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried both picked up three fouls in the first half, which meant it was DeMarcus Cousins‘ time to shine.

NBA on ESPN shared a highlight, while Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders noted how critical Cousins’ defense was:

While the interior play was certainly impressive, it was the three-point shooting for the Americans that completely put the game away before halftime. In fact, Irving hit four treys, Harden connected on three from distance, Klay Thompson had two from long range and Rudy Gay and Stephen Curry each hit one.

In all, Team USA shot 11-of-16 from three-point range in the first half.

Duncan offered up some solid advice for Serbia:

Thanks to the barrage of perimeter shooting, Krzyzewski’s squad had an overwhelming 67-41 lead at the half.

Things didn’t look much different in the third quarter. The United States’ NBA superstars were hitting on all cylinders with their shots. It really wasn’t even a fair matchup on paper.

The Americans do deserve credit for coming out of the locker room with some intensity. Duncan suggested as much, while ESPN’s Marc Stein pointed out that the coaching staff was matching the energy: 

Things simply got out of hand for Serbia in the third quarter. The United States stretched its lead to more than 30 points midway through the third and eviscerated the Serbian defense. Zach Harper of CBS Sports thought Serbia should maybe change its defensive look:

While it was easy to criticize Serbia’s defense, ESPN commentator Fran Fraschilla told Bleacher Report before the game that Krzyzewski deserved plenty of credit: ”I’d be very surprised if Team USA, because of Coach K’s influence, takes their eyes off the prize. There’s less of a sense of entitlement among these NBA stars than there was eight or nine years ago. To beat this team, you have to play an A+ game.”

The only team playing an A+ game Sunday was the United States. It took a commanding 105-67 lead into the fourth quarter.

Harper summarized how many were feeling, while John Schumann of NBA.com pointed out just how ridiculous the Americans’ effort really was:

With the game well in hand, it was time to watch individual players. Duncan provided some encouraging news for Chicago Bulls fans:

However, Derrick Rose was among the few Americans who hadn’t cracked the scoreboard, as Sam Smith of Bulls.com pointed out:

Fortunately for the United States, plenty of players were stuffing the stat sheet. As NBA on ESPN noted, seven players were in double figures as the game entered its final minutes:

Thanks to a blistering shooting performance from the majority of the team, the fourth quarter was simply a formality. In fact, Serbia outscored Krzyzewski’s team 25-24 in the final frame, but Team USA still won the game by 37 points.

It was yet another dominating performance for Team USA, which hardly had to bat an eye on its way to gold.

 

What’s Next

While the Americans were clearly more impressive than any other team by a wide margin at the World Cup, some may view the triumph with hesitation because it didn’t come against Spain. 

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated commented on that idea:

From an NBA perspective, this experience should prove beneficial for the superstars that played for Team USA. Players like Irving, Davis, Faried and Cousins, who were excellent for much of the tournament, will likely be more confident in their own abilities, while Derrick Rose’s knees passed an extended test.

The Chicago Sun-Times suggested as much during the game:

While NBA fans are certainly looking forward to that, Team USA has some time to revel in its World Cup title.

 

*All quotes obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.

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USA vs. Serbia: Live Score, Highlights for 2014 FIBA World Cup Championship Game

After two weeks of play, the field for the 2014 FIBA World Cup has been narrowed down to Serbia and Team USA for the title game Sunday in Madrid, Spain.

The Americans have coasted to this point, as they’re undefeated and the smallest margin of victory was 21 points against Turkey.

Serbia may be the toughest test yet, thanks in large part to Milos Teodosic.

The 6’5″ Serbian guard is averaging 14 points during the tournament, but he’s been especially dangerous lately, averaging 23.5 points in his team’s last two games.

U.S. guards Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry and James Harden have never been known for their defense, so reserve Klay Thompson could have a bigger role. The three-and-D specialist should have a better shot at slowing Teodosic down than any other American.

 

Tipoff3 p.m. ET

Coverage: ESPN2

 

Keys to the Game

Serbia will need a miracle, maybe even a few miracles, to upset the heavily favored Team USA. The Serbians will have to try to slow the pace way down, pack the paint, hope USA goes cold from the outside and get a huge game from Teodosic.

On the other end, the Americans have done their best work in this tournament during second halves, when their opponents wear down and fast-break opportunities are more readily available.

If they work the ball inside to their more athletic bigs, Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis, early, they could get to that point sooner.

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Minnesota Timberwolves: Four reasons Kevin Martin steps up his game

It may seem odd to predict a significant improvement in play from a 31 year old player like Kevin Martin, but I think that there are a lot of differences from this year to last for Martin and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Reason number one: As a shooting guard, Martin’s main job on the basketball court is to put the ball in the hoop. Martin did pretty well at that last year, scoring around 19 points a game and shooting 43 percent from the field and above 38 percent from beyond the arc. However, for much of the season last year, Martin was dealing with a lacerated pinky finger, and while that is certainly an injury that Martin could play through, you could tell by watching Martin play that the injury was throwing off his shot, even if it was off only slightly so.

Reason number two: Another reason I think Martin will improve is the fact that he will be the main outside shooting threat for the Timberwolves, which will lead to him getting more chances to shoot and more chances to get into a groove. Even before K

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FIBA World Cup 2014: Latest Results and Championship Game Preview

With the 2014 FIBA World Cup having its share of surprises, fans should be ready for anything in the championship game.

France earned third place in the tournament thanks to a narrow win over Lithuania in the consolation game. All that is left is to decide which team takes home the gold and which will get silver in the final competition between the United States and Serbia.

Although most expect an easy American win, there have already been plenty of upsets at this event, with top squads like Spain and Brazil going down early. Based on what Serbia has done to this stage, it is hard to count the squad out now.

This final game is certain to be an entertaining one, so make sure you do not miss a second of the action. Here is a recap of the knockout stage plus a look ahead to the final matchup. 

 

Championship Game

Who: United States vs. Serbia

When: Sunday, September 14

Where: Madrid, Spain

Time: 3 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN2

Live Stream: ESPN3

 

The United States roster is full of recognizable names for basketball fans, as players like Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose and James Harden patrol the backcourt, while Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried and others have impressed down low.

After winning each of its first eight games in this tournament by at least 20 points, it would certainly be surprising to see the squad finish with anything besides a gold medal.

However, Serbia is not going to give up without a fight. Center Nenad Krstic told NBA analyst Chris Sheridan, “We’re not going to be scared, for sure. Some players never get this chance—the chance to do something great in our lives.”

“If they beat us, when it is over I will shake their hands. But we are going to play our game,” head coach Sasha Djordjevic explained.

The squad is led by point guard Milos Teodosic, who is averaging a team-high 14 points and 4.1 assists in this tournament. Zach Harper of CBS Sports gave this short analysis:

While he does not play in the NBA, it is not because of lack of talent, as ESPN’s Marc Stein notes:

He is an excellent shooter while also doing a great job of creating for others. Nemanja Bjelica and Miroslav Raduljica are quality inside scorers, while Bogdan Bogdanovic can rack up points from the perimeter.

Still, they have not faced a defense as good as the United States in this tournament. John Shuhmann of NBA.com noted this has been the best unit in Spain:

Davis and Faried are excellent interior defenders and should be able to limit the points in the paint. Their rebounding ability will also limit most possessions to just one attempt. While Teodosic could have a good game individually, he will not be able to do too much himself.

On the other end of the court, the Americans will simply use their athleticism to get easy baskets and outscore their opponent.

This will be a close game early, but the United States should be able to utilize its depth to pull away and earn a championship.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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Lithuania vs. France: 2014 FIBA Bronze-Medal Game Score and Twitter Reaction

In what was unquestionably one of the most entertaining games of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, France defeated Lithuania 95-93 Saturday in Spain to secure the bronze medal. 

According to Eurohoops.net, it was a landmark victory for the French:

Lithuania received a huge effort from Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas, as he finished with 25 points and nine rebounds, but he was neutralized by the 27 points from Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum for France.

While both Lithuania and France suffered disappointment in the semifinals by falling short of their ultimate goal, there was still plenty to play for in Saturday’s game.

Lithuania entered the matchup with hopes of equaling its third-place result from the 2010 FIBA World Cup. Conversely, France was making its first appearance in a medal game in this tournament since 1954.

Prior to the game, Batum made it clear that his squad was ready to put Friday’s semifinal loss to Serbia in the rear-view mirror, per FIBA.com.

“We have to win,” Batum said. “If we don’t find the motivation, there’s no point in competing in this sport. The final, that’s over with, we won’t play it. We can’t dwell on it and we need to move on to something else. Let’s carry on being conquerors.”

There was no love lost between these two sides as they met in the 2013 EuroBasket final in Slovenia, according to FIBA’s official Twitter account:

France won that game convincingly, so Lithuania figured to have a huge chip on its shoulder. The Lithuanians also had a bit of added pressure with national minister of foreign affairs Linas Linkevicius urging them to come away victorious:

It would have been easy for the French to come out flat after losing to Serbia by just five points on Friday, but they looked to be the hungrier team early on. France raced out to a 7-2 lead with all seven points being scored by center Joffrey Lauvergne.

Batum ultimately paced Les Bleus with eight points in the opening quarter, and they led 22-19 entering the second.

Much like the first quarter, the second frame was back-and-forth. The star players for both teams did much of the damage with Batum and Lauvergne excelling for France, while Valanciunas looked great offensively for Lithuania.

According to Eurohoops.net, France and Lithuania were particularly effective in terms of exploiting mismatches:

Lithuania gained some ground in the second quarter as it outscored France 23-21 and pulled to within one point at the break. Valanciunas finished the first half with 12 points to lead the Lithuanians, while the vast majority of France’s offense went through two players, per Euroleague Basketball on Twitter:

The tide started to turn even more in Lithuania’s favor at the start of the second half. Not only did the Lithuanians do a much better job on Batum and Lauvergne defensively, but they also started to heat up from beyond the arc on the offensive end.

In fact, consecutive three-point daggers from Adas Juskevicius and Houston Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas put Lithuania on top just a few minutes into the quarter:

Although Batum started to find his range again as the quarter progressed, Lithuania’s lead continued to balloon. Valanciunas was the main reason for that, as he added six points in the third and helped Lithuania to a 71-64 lead with just one quarter left to play.

France simply had no answer for Valanciunas, which likely has Raptors fans quite excited for the upcoming NBA season. If Valanciunas’ play against the French is any indication, Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey could see Toronto utilizing him to greater effect in 2014-15:

Just when it seemed like France was potentially down for the count, it mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter. The French grittiness was on full display as the slight underdogs chipped away at Lithuania’s advantage.

Batum led the way, but San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw finally started to contribute in a big way as well. With less than five minutes remaining in the game, Diaw put France back on top 77-75.

Valanciunas refused to be denied, however, as he tied it at 77 with a thunderous dunk and then converted an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 80-77 Lithuania with about three minutes remaining on the clock.

A 5-0 run put France back on top 82-80, though, and it was punctuated by a Diaw layup with just a minute and a half left.

Diaw extended the lead to four with another basket, and guard Thomas Heurtel added a pair of free throws with 30 seconds left to give France a seemingly insurmountable 86-80 lead.

Closing out the game would prove difficult, though. Juskevicius hit two free throws and then pulled Lithuania to within one point with a bucket and the foul 16 seconds before the final horn. That came on the heels of Heurtel missing two key free throws.

Heurtel would atone for his misses with two makes on his ensuing trip to the line, giving France a three-point lead, per Sportnado:

The cat-and-mouse game continued with both teams trading successful spells at the charity stripe. France held a 90-89 lead with eight ticks remaining after Renaldas Seibutis converted two free throws.

A missed free throw by Batum left the door open a crack for Lithuania with four seconds left. Valanciunas made two free throws to make it 93-92 France. Batum made two free throws to extend the lead to three, and French forward Florent Pietrus smartly fouled Jonas Maciulis with one second left so he couldn’t attempt a three-pointer. The Lithuanian forward purposely missed his second free throw, but France grabbed the defensive rebound to come away with the win.

There is no question that both of these teams have a long way to go before reaching the United States’ level, but they have certainly proven capable of competing with the world’s best teams at the international level.

Lithuania has been among the elite teams in the world for quite some time, and this loss doesn’t change that. A second consecutive bronze in this tournament would have been a great result, but reaching the semis was a big deal nonetheless.

Les Bleus made it this far without Spurs point guard Tony Parker and Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, so the sky is the limit. France also upset a full-strength Spanish team on its home court in the quarterfinals in addition to winning the bronze medal, so this tournament was most definitely a success.

Lithuania and France will now look ahead to the 2015 EuroBasket tournament as two 2016 Olympic berths will be on the line. A rematch of the 2013 final between them is a very real possibility, and it would be yet another chapter in what is quickly becoming one of the best rivalries in international basketball.

 

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France vs. Lithuania: Live Score, Highlights for FIBA World Cup 3rd-Place Game

After losing to USA and Serbia in their respective semifinal matchups, France and Lithuania are set to do battle in the consolation game at the 2014 FIBA World Cup on Saturday.

Lithuania will likely look to pound the ball inside with big man Jonas Valanciunas, while France will attack from the perimeter with Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw.

 

Tipoff12 p.m. ET

Coverage: ESPN3.com

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Lithuania vs. France: 2014 FIBA 3rd Place Game Live Stream and Preview

For Lithuania and France, the journey is far from over at the 2014 FIBA World Cup after losses in the semifinals.

Saturday, the two sides will meet in the 3rd Place Game for one final fleeting shot at glory on the international stage before the United States takes on Serbia in the final.

Lithuania encountered Team USA at precisely the wrong time as Mike Krzyzewski’s team seemed to hit full stride, while France rallied and lost a heartbreaker at the hands of Serbia late.

Below, let’s profile the two teams and everything else there is to know about Saturday’s showdown.

 

When: Saturday, September 13 at 12 p.m. ET 

Where: Palacio de Los Deportes, Madrid, Spain

Live Stream: ESPN3

 

The Road for Lithuania

After a somewhat mediocre performance in Group play, Jonas Valanciunas of the NBA‘s Toronto Raptors got off to a hot start in the knockout stages and never looked back.

In fact, Valanciunas had a coming out party of sorts in the team’s first knockout game against New Zealand. En route to the 76-71 triumph, he did much to counteract 26 points from Corey Webster by posting 22 of his own to go with 13 rebound and three blocks.

Valanciunas then took a back seat to Renaldas Seibutis in the next round, despite what was supposed to be an epic matchup beneath the rim between he and Omer Asik.

It wound up being a 73-61 victory over Turkey. Seibutis scored 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field, including a perfect mark on all three of his attempts from deep and four attempts at the foul line.

As hinted, though, the streak of good fortune for the Lithuanians came to a screeching halt in the semifinals against Team USA. Valanciunas poured in 15 points, as did Mindaugas Kuzminskas, but the impressive dominance the team had displayed beneath the rim to that point was nullified by a ridiculous shooting night from the Americans.

Led by Kyrie Irving‘s 18 points, Team USA shot 47.5 percent from the field while Lithuania mostly relied on trips to the foul line for production, attempting 42 shots. It obviously was not the desired end result, but Valanciunas and Co. can take solace in the fact that if they connect on more than just 17 field goals, the will stand a great chance in Saturday’s game.

 

The Road for France

Led by NBA players such as Nicolas Batum (Portland Trail Blazers), Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), and Boris Diaw (Spurs), France followed a somewhat similar path through the knockout portion of the bracket after a showing that can only be described as lackluster in the Group stage.

Thanks to a consistent second half in which the French side scored 46 if its 69 points, the team scored a five-point win over Croatia to advance. Batum led the way with 14 points despite missing on all six of his attempts from deep.

Still, Batum’s performance was a sign of much bigger things to come.

France then did the unthinkable by taking down Spain and an elite front line consisting of Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka. That trio was limited to just 22 points in the 65-52 upset, 17 of which came from Pau.

Diaw led the way for France there, scoring 15 points while Gobert controlled the glass with 13 boards. He said after the fact that his team rallied around his efforts in the paint.

“I knew everybody was expecting me to help the team,” said Gobert, per ESPN.com’s Mark Woods. “Everybody knew I could stop them. That was just my mission. Everyone else played great offensively. I just had to stop Pau. He’s one of the best players in the world and if you stop him, they’re not as strong.”

Like Lithuania, though, the French appeared gassed Friday in the semifinals against Serbia in the 90-85 loss. Even a ridiculous 35 points from Batum was not enough to stop the Serbian side, which shot 57.1 percent from the field.

As Sportando documents, though, Batum’s recent momentum seems to bode well for Saturday’s contest:

Indeed, the game that takes a back seat to the final seems sure to entertain with plenty of offense.

 

3rd Place Game Preview and Prediction

As one can glean from their respective paths, this one has the making of an inside-out battle of epic proportions.

Valanciunas and Lithuania can rather easily take over a game in the paint, control the tempo via the glass and steal a win, especially with France coming off less recovery time after a loss. As Adam Papageorgiou of Magicbasketballonline.com muses, the team might be too gassed to give 100 percent:

Then again, that same time gap could mean Batum and the French side come out red hot, continue their superb shooting ways and run the Lithuanians out of the gym. 

Expect that to happen Saturday. France is on fire at the moment, and not only is it impressive the team shut down the likes of Spain in the paint, players such as Diaw (13 points and 10 rebounds in Friday’s loss) put things over the top as he can once again help turn the tide beneath the rim.

Regardless of the winner, kudos goes to both sides for making it this far. Lithuania managed to do it without Mantas Kalnietis, while France made a deep run sans Tony Parker and Joakim Noah.

Still, it is difficult to get past the spotty shooting from Lithuania at times, and although both teams lost in the semifinals, France has a ton of positive momentum in comparison to Lithuania.

Prediction: France 88, Lithuania 84

 

Full updated tournament bracket can be viewed at FIBA.com. Stats and info via ESPN and FIBA.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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Joakim Noah Bounces 1st Pitch at White Sox Game, Throws Strike on 2nd Chance

Most people don’t get two shots at the “first” pitch, so it pays off to be a professional athlete.

Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah received the honor of throwing out the first pitch before the Oakland A’s-Chicago White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday.

The 6’11″ center warmed up before the game.

However, when he took the mound, he needed more than one shot to get the ball over the plate.

Somewhere out there, 50 Cent is probably wishing he got a second chance earlier this year.

[Chicago White Sox]

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OSU-OU women’s basketball game to be televised

Oklahoma State at Oklahoma women’s basketball game to be televised by FOX Sports 1

      
 

 

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Chandler Parsons Rides Camel for Mavericks ‘Game Day’ Commercial Shoot

This picture would have been very fitting had Chandler Parsons posted it on Wednesday, aka “hump day.”

Parsons—with teammate Devin Harris by his side—hopped on top of a camel for a Dallas Mavericks video. Parsons has yet to play in a game for the Mavericks, but it looks like he is enjoying some wild experiences with his new team.

In the caption, Parsons asked everyone what day it is. For those of you who guessed “hump day,” you would be wrong. Here’s a video the team made last year:

[Chandler Parsons, Dallas Mavericks]

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