Team USA men’s basketball team defeats Australia to advance to gold medal game

Kevin Durant is flowing right now, and Team USA men’s basketball is benefitting from it. Durant would lead the U.S. with 23 points, and Devin Booker added 20 as they would defeat Australia 97-78 in the semifinals of the 2020 Olympic Games.

With the win, the U.S. will battle France in the gold medal game on Friday.

After being down 41-26 in the second quarter with just under six minutes left, Team USA went on a 16-4 run to close the gap to 45-42 at the break. From there, Durant took control in the third quarter as he would score eight straight points for the U.S., Booker would add 11 points in the third, and ultimately, Team USA never looked back.

USA head coach Gregg Popovich was unhappy with the team’s defensive effort early in the game, but the team, led by Jrue Holiday, who had 11 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds, responded after a little constructive criticism. 

“When we pointed it out, they reacted,” Popovich said about the team’s defensive effort. “In the last five minutes of the second quarter, they were fantastic, and it continued into the third. I give them credit for understanding the game as well as being able to accept the truth. Because you can be with some players that you can tell them something, but they don’t buy it because they can’t handle certain kinds of criticism. But these guys want the truth, and they react to it.”

Duran, who scored 29 points against Spain in the quarterfinals, and passed Carmelo Anthony to become the U.S. men’s leading scorer in the Olympics, added: “I’m looking forward to going out there and executing the game plan on defense,” Durant said. “Offensively, we don’t have to worry about that. But executing the game plan defensively as a team, and we’ll see what happens.”

Getting the gold won’t be easy for Team USA, but it’s clear that they have found their stride and playing good basketball. No team out there is more talented, including France, who beat the U.S. in the preliminary round, so we’ll see if Team USA can get a little revenge and bring home the gold on Friday.

Photo: Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)
 

Holiday on steal on Booker: ‘I guess I was just in the right place at the right time’

After one quarter in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, it appeared the Phoenix Suns would blow out the Milwaukee Bucks. Phoenix led 37-21 after the first quarter and were rolling. However, the Bucks dominated the second and third quarters. Milwaukee outscored the Suns 79-56 in those two quarters, and shot a combined 71.1 percent (32-of-45) while knocking down 10 of their 14 threes.

Phoenix battled back in the fourth quarter, but Milwaukee held on to win Game 5 123-119 at Footprint Center.

The Bucks took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Suns cut the lead to 120-119. With 16.9 seconds left in the contest and a chance for Phoenix to take the lead, Jrue Holiday would make the play of the game when he stripped Devin Booker, threw an alley-oop pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who dunked the ball and was fouled by Chris Paul. Antetokounmpo would miss the free throw, but Khris Middleton would secure the offensive rebound and make one of two free throws to put the game away.

Holiday, who shot 12-of-20 from the floor and scored 14 of his 27 points in the second quarter and added a game-high 13 assists, was remarkable for Milwaukee on both ends of the court on Saturday night. He is a big reason why Milwaukee is one game away from winning their first NBA title in 50 years. 

“Big-time steal,” Antetokounmpo, who had 32 points and nine rebounds in Game 5, said postgame about Holiday’s play on Booker. “Showing a crowd, they didn’t get to the spot, and he came from behind and ripped the ball out. He can go down to the other end and just, you know, go for like a full play, run the clock down. But he trusted me and made an incredible pass, also, for the lob. It was big time. It was a big-time play. It was the winning play of the game.”

Holiday added on the steal on Booker: “I feel like we knew Booker wanted to take that last shot and played great defense on him and made him turn his back, and he turned right into me. I guess I was just in the right place at the right time.”

As the Suns examine Game 5, they will look at the second quarter. Phoenix was outscored 43-24 in that quarter. Booker, who scored a game-high 40 points on Saturday night after scoring 42 in Game 4, talked about the second quarter.

“It was tough,” he said. “We came out and did what we intended to do, get off to a great start, and we let it go. They stayed resilient, and they kept playing through. So, tough loss for us.”

After being up 2-0, the Suns have lost three straight, something they have not done since January. Phoenix has not faced elimination at any point in these playoffs until now. As Suns head coach Monty Williams says, “Everything you want is on the other side of hard.” 

So, Phoenix has to find a way in Game 6 in Milwaukee on Tuesday night if they want to keep their season alive.

Notes:

-With his 40 points on Saturday night, Booker has now scored 582 points this postseason. He joins Dwyane Wade as the only two players in NBA history to score 580-plus points in one postseason while under the age of 25.

-Game 5 marked just the second time in NBA Finals history of consecutive quarters with a scoring margin of at least 15 points (Suns outscored the Bucks 37-21 in the 1st quarter, while Milwaukee outscored Phoenix 43-24).

-The Suns outscored Milwaukee 66-44 in the first and fourth quarters combined. 

-Chris Paul turned in his first double-double performance of the Finals, and his fourth of this postseason tonight, scoring 21 points to go along with a team-high 11 assists. Paul knocked down all three of his three-point attempts on the evening.

-Middleton scored 20 of his 29 points in the second half tonight while adding 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Middleton shot 12-of-23 on the night and knocked down 3 of his 8 three-point attempts.

Bucks’ Middleton: ‘Honestly, it’s been a long journey, but it’s been a great journey’

After 47 years, the Milwaukee Bucks are back in the NBA Finals. Khris Middleton scored 23 of his game-high 32 points in the third quarter, and Jrue Holiday added 27 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists as the Bucks defeated the Hawks 118-107 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at State Farm Arena on Saturday night.

Milwaukee wins the series 4-2, and now, they get ready for the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.

Despite not having Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed Games 5 and 6 due to a hyperextended left knee, the Bucks found a way. Getting to the NBA Finals was not an easy journey for the Bucks, which their head coach Mike Budenholzer discussed after the game.

“Yeah, what a roller coaster of emotions, especially this series,” Budenholzer said. “But the series before and opening with Miami, and how good they are. So just impressed with the resilience of the group, the character of the group. They just have a focus, and an edge that’s put us in a good place put us in an opportunity to keep playing. And so you’ve got to deal with all those emotions, everything that goes into each round, and this group has been able to do that. It’s impressive, but we’ve got more to do.”

Middleton and Antetokounmpo came into the NBA together with the Bucks, and the two went through the highs and lows in Milwaukee, including some playoff disappointments over the years, to get to this point. Middleton reflected on that journey following the victory.

“Honestly, it’s been a long journey, but it’s been a great journey,” Middleton said. “It’s been worth it. We put ourselves in position to be in the NBA Finals. After winning 15 games in our first year here and seven years not making the playoffs, to the last two years thinking we had a chance and just didn’t do enough, and now we’re here. This is what we’ve work for. Extremely happy that we’re still playing.

According to Holiday, this journey to the Finals is a story he will tell his children.

“Man, it’s been — it’s a story that I get to tell my kids, and it’s a story I get to tell people, and that’s one of the coolest things,” Holiday said. “Playing against the Heat and what we did against them; and then coming back against Brooklyn, one of the most talented teams in the league, or ever, honestly, against one of the best, what, top three of the greatest scorers of our game; and then a great Atlanta team, a young team but that have some crucial players.”

Last season, the Atlanta Hawks missed the playoffs. This season, the Hawks made it to the Eastern Conference finals, which unexpected to many, so no matter what happened in Eastern Conference finals, this season was a success. According to Trae Young, who returned and had 14 points and nine assists on Saturday after missing Games 4 and 5 with a foot injury, Atlanta wants to keep this winning vibe going.

“I definitely feel like this is a start,” Young said. “I mean, this is the beginning. We’ve accomplished so much this year, but just the guys in the locker room, the young guys, we all understand that this is just the beginning. It’s fun. We had the city excited. We want to keep it this way.”

The Bucks move on to the NBA Finals against the Suns, and if they can get Antetokounmpo back, and he is fairly healthy, maybe they beat Phoenix. If they don’t get the two-time MVP back, winning an NBA title will be tough for Milwaukee.

Bucks’ Tucker: ‘It’s the Eastern Conference finals; there’s no excuses’

Coming into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Atlanta Hawks knew they would be without their star guard Trae Young(bruised right foot) against the Bucks. However, Milwaukee lost its star player and could be without him the rest of the way.

Giannis Antetokounmpo left Game 4 with just over seven minutes to go in the third quarter and did not return after he hyperextended his left knee trying to block Clint Capela’s shot. The two-time MVP did come back to the bench but had a noticeable limp and returned to the locker room.

After Antetokounmpo’s injury, the Hawks, who led the Bucks by 10 when Antetokounmpo went out of the game, outscored the Bucks 25-10 the rest of the third quarter. Atlanta would take a 25-point lead into the fourth quarter and ultimately defeat the Bucks 110-88 at State Farm Arena to tie the series at 2.

Game 5 is Thursday night in Milwaukee.

Without Young, Lou Williams, the three-time 6th-man of the year award winner, got his first career postseason start on Tuesday night, and Williams had a game-high 21 points and eight assists.

“When superstar caliber guys go out, you put some other guys in the game, and their eyes are this wide, and they’re like this is a great opportunity for me to show and prove my abilities,” Williams said. “You don’t want to be the guys that let them off the hook because Giannis was off the floor. I think we all felt that energy, and we just ratcheted up our energy and continued to go.”

Jrue Holiday led the Bucks with 19 points, to go along with nine assists and five rebounds. According to Holiday, without Antetokounmpo, everybody else has to step up.

“I think just based off of how he was grabbing his leg, it seemed like it was pretty bad,” Holiday said. “So from there, you are concerned, and you don’t want to see anybody, especially a teammate, get hurt, but you kind of have to shift to somebody has to step up. Multiple people have to step up.”

P.J. Tucker, who had eight points on Tuesday night, added on Antetokounmpo: “It’s not good. Any time you see your best player go down, it’s not great. But it’s an opportunity for somebody else and everybody else to step up. It’s the Eastern Conference finals; there’s no excuses. It doesn’t matter whoever is playing, not playing. They’ve got guys out; everybody’s hurt, everybody’s banged up, everybody has injuries. You have to fight through it and win.”

Credit to Atlanta for the way they played in Game 4. They came out with more passion and energy than the Bucks, which is why they were able to tie this series at 2.

According to reports, Antetokounmpo is expected to get an MRI on Wednesday, so what happens with that MRI could determine how the rest of this series plays out. Depending on how things go with Young’s injury, both teams could be without their best player in Game 5.

Notes:

Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has been battling right knee soreness throughout the playoffs, had a breakout game for the Hawks. He scored 20 points(6-14 from downtown) on Tuesday night.

Before Game 4,  Bogdanovic scored 20 points in the first three games of this series combined.

 

 

 

Jrue Holiday named NBA Teammate of the Year

New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday is the recipient of the 2019-20 Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, the NBA announced on Tuesday. 

The Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award recognizes the NBA player deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to his team. A panel of league executives selected six players from each conference with current players voting for one overall winner.

The award is named for Basketball Hall of Famers Maurice Stokes and Jack Twyman, friends and teammates on the Rochester/Cincinnati Royals from 1955 until 1958. In the final game of the 1957-58 season, Stokes suffered an on-court brain injury, fell into a coma days later and was left permanently paralyzed. Diagnosed with posttraumatic encephalopathy, which damaged his motor-control center, Stokes was supported for the rest of his life by Twyman, who became his legal guardian and advocate.

“There isn’t a more deserving player nor one that better embodies what this award signifies, on and off the court, than Jrue Holiday,” said Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin. “Jrue’s concern for and connection to his community is at the heart of everything we want this organization to represent. The work that he and his wife Lauren have done locally in New Orleans, as well as in Southern California and Indiana cannot go unnoticed, and his willingness to donate his full remaining salary following the restart of the 2019-2020 season to the ongoing fight for social justice further demonstrates what type of human being Jrue is. We are honored and grateful that Jrue is part of our Pelicans family.”

On July 15, Holiday announced that he would donate the remainder of his 2019-20 season salary to start a social justice fund with his wife, Lauren. The Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Justice Impact Fund aims to combat systemic racism and address social and economic inequalities across communities in New Orleans, the Los Angeles area and Indianapolis. The funds will also support local Black-led non-profit organizations, citywide initiatives that seek to bring about equitable outcomes for Black and Brown communities, and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) of higher education.

Holiday is the first player in Pelicans franchise history to earn Teammate of the Year honors, and becomes the eighth player in league history to win the award, joining Chauncey Billups (2013), Shane Battier (2014), Tim Duncan (2015), Vince Carter (2016), Dirk Nowitzki (2017), Jamal Crawford (2018) and Mike Conley Jr. (2019).

 

New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday is the recipient of the 2019-20 Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, the NBA announced on Tuesday. 

The Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award recognizes the NBA player deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to his team. A panel of league executives selected six players from each conference with current players voting for one overall winner.

The award is named for Basketball Hall of Famers Maurice Stokes and Jack Twyman, friends and teammates on the Rochester/Cincinnati Royals from 1955 until 1958. In the final game of the 1957-58 season, Stokes suffered an on-court brain injury, fell into a coma days later and was left permanently paralyzed. Diagnosed with posttraumatic encephalopathy, which damaged his motor-control center, Stokes was supported for the rest of his life by Twyman, who became his legal guardian and advocate.

“There isn’t a more deserving player nor one that better embodies what this award signifies, on and off the court, than Jrue Holiday,” said Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin. “Jrue’s concern for and connection to his community is at the heart of everything we want this organization to represent. The work that he and his wife Lauren have done locally in New Orleans, as well as in Southern California and Indiana cannot go unnoticed, and his willingness to donate his full remaining salary following the restart of the 2019-2020 season to the ongoing fight for social justice further demonstrates what type of human being Jrue is. We are honored and grateful that Jrue is part of our Pelicans family.”

On July 15, Holiday announced that he would donate the remainder of his 2019-20 season salary to start a social justice fund with his wife, Lauren. The Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Justice Impact Fund aims to combat systemic racism and address social and economic inequalities across communities in New Orleans, the Los Angeles area and Indianapolis. The funds will also support local Black-led non-profit organizations, citywide initiatives that seek to bring about equitable outcomes for Black and Brown communities, and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) of higher education.

Holiday is the first player in Pelicans franchise history to earn Teammate of the Year honors, and becomes the eighth player in league history to win the award, joining Chauncey Billups (2013), Shane Battier (2014), Tim Duncan (2015), Vince Carter (2016), Dirk Nowitzki (2017), Jamal Crawford (2018) and Mike Conley Jr. (2019).