James on Davis: ‘My mindset is that he’s not going to be able to play in Game 6’

The Phoenix Suns are one game away from advancing to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs after routing the Lakers 115-85 in Game 5 at Phoenix Suns Arena on Tuesday night.

The Suns lead the series 3-2 with a chance to close out the defending champions on Thursday night at Staples Center.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 30 points, and Cameron Payne, who continues to play well in the series, added 16 points off the bench.

Phoenix led by eight after one quarter and took a 66-36 halftime lead. The Suns led by as many as 36 points in this contest.

Phoenix got a little scare in the third quarter when Chris Paul appeared to re-injure his shoulder after trying to box out Wesley Matthews. Paul would leave the game and did not return. 

However, after the game, Paul seemed pretty confident that he would be good to go for Game 6.

‘It’s a little banged up, but I’ll be all right,” Paul said about his shoulder.

The Suns are clearly a better team with Paul on the court, while the Lakers are clearly a worse team when Anthony Davis is not on the court. Davis, who missed most of Game 4 and all of Game 5 due to a groin injury, is hoping to get back on the court for Game 6. 

But, according to LeBron James, who led the Lakers with 24 points on Thursday night, he’s going to prepare for Game 6 like Davis will not be there.

“My mindset is that he’s not going to be able to play in Game 6,” James said. “If something changes, then we’ll go from there. But I’m preparing as if he’s not.”

The Lakers cannot win this series with Davis in street clothes, so they need him on the court to beat the Suns, especially if Paul is healthy. However, never underestimate the heart of a champion. Expect Los Angeles to get a big-time effort out of James and the rest of the Lakers, but it might not be enough without Davis.

Notes:

Lakers’ Dennis Schroder struggled on Tuesday night. He finished 0/9 from the field with zero points and one assist.

Suns’ Crowder on Paul: ‘Everything clicks a little better with 3 on the court’

After making his signature fade-away jumper in third quarter on Sunday, Chris Paul yelled: “I’m back!” Paul, who has been battling a shoulder injury, had 18 points and nine assists as the Suns defeated the Lakers 100-92 in Game 4 of their first-round series at Staples Center.

The Suns regained home-court advantage and tied the series at 2. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.

With Paul at his best, the Suns looked like a much different team on Sunday. Phoenix had six players in double figures, including getting 17 points apiece from Devin Booker and Jae Crowder.

“It felt good, man,” Paul said about playing well on the court. “You work all summer, all season to get here, and to not be able to give your team what you want to give them, and to have them out there sort of guarding me, knowing you are somewhat less than, it was a good feeling to be out there competing.”

Before the game, Paul, who scored in double-figures for the first time in this series on Sunday, talked with Suns head coach Monty Williams about the possibility of sitting out Game 4, which he discussed following the team’s victory.

“I’m just glad that me and coach got the relationship, where we can have that conversation,” Paul said. “We talked about it. I told the guys, I said, ‘I don’t know if it would be two minutes; I don’t know if would be 32 minutes, but I feel like I had to try to give you what I got.'”

Crowder knows the Suns need Paul, and according to him, things are just better with Paul on the court. 

“Everything clicks a little better with 3 on the court and 3 being himself,” Crowder said. “That’s vocally, that’s him being vocal with our units. That’s him making plays with the ball in his hands, and I feel like we feed off of that.”

Paul seems like he’s back, but the Lakers’ Anthony Davis could be out. Davis injured his groin in the second quarter on Sunday and did not return.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Davis is day-to-day, and his status for Game 5 is uncertain at this time.

If the Lakers don’t have Davis going forward, they can’t win this series, and if Paul is not right for Suns, they also can’t win this series, so this series could come down to which team is the healthiest. Phoenix has two of the final three games of this series in their building, so on paper, that’s an advantage. We’ll see which team will be good enough to take two out of the final three. 

Notes:

LeBron James had 25 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists on Sunday.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Paul and James both led their teams Sunday in points and assists. It was the first game in NBA history in which two players, age 35 or older, led their team in points and assists (regular season or playoffs).

-Deandre Ayton had 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds in Game 4. Ayton is averaging 19.8 points and 13.5 rebounds per game in this series.

 

 

Lakers use big third quarter to defeat Suns in Game 3

The Los Angeles Lakers had their first home playoff game in eight years at Staples Center, and they took full advantage of it. Behind Anthony Davis’ 34 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists, and LeBron James’ 21 points, nine assists, and six rebounds. The Lakers defeated the Suns 109-95 in Game 3 of their first-round best of seven game series.

Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Booker scored 19 points.

The Lakers lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. This game turned in the third quarter. The Lakers outscored the Suns by 10 points and led by as many as 17 points in the third. Davis scored 18 points in the quarter, while James added 10 points. The Lakers never looked back, and now they have control of this series.

There were a lot of interesting subplots in this game. In the fourth quarter, LeBron James went head-to-head with Phoenix’s Jae Crowder and scored on a reverse layup, which excited the Lakers bench and the Staples Center crowd. Crowder would be ejected in the fourth. Also, late in the fourth, Booker would get ejected after being called for a Flagrant two foul. Booker shoved Dennis Schroder, who had 20 points in Game 3, while he was in the air. 

“That wasn’t a basketball play, and regular season, it’s probably a suspension as well,” Schroder said after the game.

“It’s a dirty play,” Davis said. “Dennis could’ve really gotten hurt right there.”

James added: “I thought the play wasn’t a basketball play.”

Suns PG Chris Paul, who is battling a shoulder injury, came into Thursday’s action 0-10 in playoffs games refereed by Scott Foster. After losing to the Lakers, Paul is now 0-11 in games officiated by Foster.

Paul never mentioned Foster by name, but at the end of his post-game interview, Paul had this to say:

“11 in a row.”

Watching Paul, who had seven points, six assists, and five rebounds in Game 3, struggle is brutal. Phoenix may have to make a tough decision and sit Paul down because right now, he has been ineffective. In his place, Cameron Payne has played well. Payne scored 15 points and dished out six assists on Thursday night and had a strong Game 2, so it might be time to turn to Payne.

It should be interesting to see how Paul and the Suns respond in Game 4 on Sunday, which is a must-win situation for this team.

 

 

Suns’ Payne: ‘I just work really hard every day to stay here’

Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul gave the team everything he had on Tuesday night in Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers, but he was clearly hampered after injuring his shoulder in the team’s Game 1 victory.

In 23 minutes last night, Paul had six points and five assists in the Suns’ 109-102 loss to the Lakers at Phoenix Suns Arena. With the win, the Lakers evened the series 1-1. The series shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4 starting on Thursday night. 

Without Paul, the Suns got solid production from backup point guard Cameron Payne, who scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter in Game 2. Payne, who also added six assists against the Lakers, was signed by the Suns before the bubble last season and performed well during the team’s eight-game run in Orlando. 

While Payne got an opportunity on Tuesday night, he was disappointed for Paul. 

“It’s always tough to see anybody on our team down,” Payne said. “We’ll get him back. It was tough, but we got next man mentality. Everybody gotta be ready.”

After trailing by 15 points in the third quarter, the Suns took their first lead in the second half in the fourth quarter with Payne on the court. According to Payne, the Suns have that never say die attitude. 

“I feel like we have been in those positions before,” Payne said about the team coming from behind. “We just feel like we can win every game, so we just keep willing.”

The 26-year-old Payne has bounced around the NBA during his five-year career, including spending time in the G League and overseas. Payne, who averaged 8.4 points, 3.6 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game this season, wants to stay in the NBA, and he will do everything in his power to make sure that happens. 

“Before, I would probably say I was comfortable,” he said. “I listened; I just didn’t take it in… I work hard; I work to keep my job. I gotta earn it all, so I go in humble but confident. I just have to keep working hard, and the work shows. Go in and get my reps. He(Monty Williams) got this quote, “Reps remove doubt.” When I get out there on the court, I put the work in… Your job could be gone.  It hit me in the face already. I got hit with that reality check, and I don’t want to not be in the league, so I just work really hard every day to stay here.”

With how things are looking for Paul, Payne will have a great opportunity with the Suns, and they’re going to need him to be at his very best if they want to advance. The goal is to get Paul healthy, but if that does not happen, it’s on Payne to try to help pull Phoenix through.

Report: Porzingis fined $50K for attending club

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Dallas Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzingis has been fined $50,000 by the NBA for violating the rule prohibiting players from going into bars, clubs, lounges, or similar establishment regardless of vaccination status. 

Porzingis attended a club on Sunday, according to the report.

The 25-year-old Porzingis finished with 14 points on Saturday in the team’s win over the Clippers in Game 1 of their first-round series. The Mavericks will battle the Clippers in Game 2 at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

Recently, LeBron James came under fire for attending a party in Los Angeles. James did violate the league’s health and safety protocols, but he was not suspended.

Hopefully, this won’t be a distraction for the Mavericks as they try to sweep the first two games in Los Angeles.

Mavs’s Carlisle: ‘Dwight [Powell] ‘s one of the best rollers I’ve ever seen in this league’

After defeating the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, the Dallas Mavericks(33-26) knew that defeating the Lakers(35-25) in the second game of their two-game set at American Airlines Center would be difficult on Saturday night, especially without Kristaps Porzingis(ankle).

The Lakers started fast and led by as much as 17 points in the second quarter and took a 58-46 lead into halftime.

Los Angeles did a great job of trapping Luka Doncic in the first half, and he had three turnovers in the second quarter. Dallas made adjustments, and Doncic, who finished the game with 18 points, had 10 of his 13 assists in the second half, and Dwight Powell, who was 11-12 from the field, scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half as the Mavericks defeated the Lakers 108-93 to sweep the two-game set. 

The Lakers, who were led by Ben McLemore’s 20 points, were without LeBron James(ankle) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope(ankle). Dennis Schroder added 16 points and 10 assists.

Basketball is a game of adjustments, and the Mavericks made adjustments, which opened things up for Doncic and Powell.

“We weren’t spaced well enough in the first half,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “In the second half, our spacing was better. Our angles were better. He was just really on point in the second half. The things that we changed made the game a lot easier for him and Dwight [Powell] and Willie [Cauley-Stein] and all of the guys rolling. That was big.”

According to Doncic, who experienced double teams in Europe, the wider NBA court made it easier to break the traps.

“I mean, they were double-teaming me,” he said. “In Europe, I used to do this a lot, and I know how it goes, but here the floor is wider, and so it’s kind of easier.”

Powell added: ‘”We’ve got to make ourselves available. We know he’s going to make the right reads, so we’ve got be ready for whatever opportunity comes our way, whether it’s a shot or a drive or another pass to off the assist, or whatever it may be. So the biggest need is showing up your hand when they’re sending two guys at him, having his back and taking advantage of those opportunities.”

This was Powell’s third game as a starter for Dallas, and the six-year veteran, who ruptured his Achilles tendon last January, is back to his previous form, according to Carlisle.

“Dwight [Powell] ‘s one of the best rollers I’ve ever seen in this league,” Carlisle said. “He has great timing; he has great feel; he has great hands. He’s not super tall, but he really gets up. This is also a strong testament to the amount of work he put in over the last year-and-a-half-plus to recover from an injury that is extremely difficult for high-level athletes. But I look out there now, and I don’t see any difference now from the Dwight Powell before the injury, and that just speaks to an amazing amount of work put in.”

With the win, Dallas is in sole possession of the sixth seed in the West and moved to 1.5 games of the fifth-seeded Lakers. Dallas wants to avoid the Play-In Tournament, so this was a big sweep for the Mavericks.

Dallas is on a three-game winning streak and begin a three-game road trip starting on Monday night against the Sacramento Kings.

Notes: 

-The 17-point deficit the Mavericks overcame was the largest comeback of the season.

 -The Mavericks improved to 17-5 when Doncic records a double-double and 12-1 when he records between 10 and 14 assists (the Mavs are weirdly 0-4 when he gets over 14 assists).

 

Mavs’ Doncic; ‘No matter how we’re not trying to be in the Play-In Tournament’

The Dallas Mavericks moved up in the standing after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 115-110 at American Airlines Center on Thursday night. With the win, Dallas(32-26) and Portland(32-26) are tied for the sixth spot in the Western Conference. 

Dallas, who have won two straight, concludes their five-game homestand when they play the Lakers(35-24) in the second game of their two-game set on Saturday night.

Luka Doncic again led the way for the Mavericks with 30 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, and three steals. He now leads the NBA this season with 18 games of 30-plus points, five-plus rebounds, and five-plus assists.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers with a season and team-high 29 points, including six threes, and Dennis Schroder added 25. 

After the game, Doncic reacted to moving on up to sixth-seed in the Western Conference.

“I think that’s great,” he said. “We’re just trying to get into the playoffs. No matter how we’re not trying to be in the Play-In Tournament. We’re trying to keep moving up.”

While they got the victory, not all was good for the Mavericks. Kristaps Porzingis, who had 19 points and six rebounds, left the game in the third quarter due to a left ankle sprain. 

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is hoping the injury is not too severe. 

“[Kristaps Porzingis’] left ankle — he rolled it [and we’re] uncertain as to the severity,” Carlisle said. “We’re hoping it’s not too severe. I don’t think he’s been ruled out for Saturday yet, but with ankles, a lot of it’s about how the player is feeling the next morning. We’ll see where he is tomorrow. He was in pretty good spirits After the game. He is walking. He’s not in a boot or anything at this point, although he has it wrapped with some elastic tape. Anyhow, we had a lot of guys contribute.”

While Los Angeles was still without LeBron James, Thursday marked the return of Anthony Davis, who missed 30 games due to a calf injury. Davis finished with four points and four rebounds in 17 minutes. 

“I felt fine,’ Davis said. “My wind felt better than expected. I had looks that I missed, but I felt good out there to give the team some juice. Going through the second half was tough watching everything that was happening and not being able to play, though.”

Defeating the Lakers on Thursday night was not easy, and beating the Lakers on Saturday night will probably be even more challenging for Dallas, especially if they don’t have Porzingis. But, if they want to continue to move up in the standings, they have to keep winning. 

 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on James: ‘There is a reason why he is who he is’

For the Cavs(8-9), defeating the world champion Los Angeles Lakers(14-4) is a tall order, but defeating the Lakers when LeBron James scores 21 points in a quarter is nearly impossible. 

James returned to Cleveland on Monday night and went off. In 38 minutes, James was 19/26 from the field, including 7/11 from three-point range, and finished with 46 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. The four-time MVP scored 21 of his 46 points in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers moved to 10-0 on the road with a 115-108 victory over Cleveland. 

At 36, James became the fifth player 36 or older to score 46 points or more in an NBA game.

“You take your hat off to him,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about James. “There is a reason why he is who he is, and he accomplished all the things that he’s accomplished. If he’s making shots like that, you pat him on the butt. You try to do more the next time and force him to take an even more difficult shot. When a guy is doing what he did tonight, he’s hard to deal with.”

Andre Drummond led the way for Cleveland with a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds.

After getting blown out in Boston on Sunday, Bickerstaff wanted a better effort from the Cavaliers on Monday, and he got it. Cleveland was right there with the Lakers all night long and led by two heading into the fourth quarter.

“I think they responded the right way,” he said. “This game was not lost by our effort. It was not lost by our scrap. They gave us what they had tonight. They competed. They played together; they competed together. That’s not where this game was lost tonight.”

Bickerstaff was not happy with the officiating, and he felt the officials did not give his team the same respect they gave the Lakers. Los Angeles shot 12 more free throws than Cleveland on Monday night. 

“I think it was some momentum-changing calls that were made or weren’t made,” he said. “I think our guys showed up and gave the effort to deserve the respect that both teams should garner, and tonight, I don’t think that was the case. The Lakers are a hell of a basketball team, don’t get me wrong. They deserve everything they have coming, but our guys scrap and play hard and deserve the same.

“Were there plays that we made down the stretch where we could’ve made better decisions, sure. When you’re in a position where your playing uphill, you have to be even better and be even more certain with your decisions, your shot selection, your defensive execution, so we could’ve been better there as well, but it’s hard to overcome the champs-plus.”

The Cavaliers went 2-2 in this four-game stretch against the Nets(2x), Celtics, and Lakers. Going 2-2 is a win for this team, and outside of the Boston game, they played some pretty good basketball, which is progress. Now, they prepare the Pistons on Wednesday night.

Mavs’ Carlisle on Luka: ‘He’s already one of the faces of the NBA’

In just over two seasons, Mavericks G Luka Doncic has turned himself into one of the NBA’s better players. Last season, Doncic averaged 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game. In the playoffs, Doncic upped his game and averaged 31.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per contest, including a memorable buzzer-beater in Game 4 of the Mavericks first-round matchup against the Clippers.

The stars come out in the NBA on Christmas, and the 21-year-old Doncic is one of those stars. Dallas(0-1) will battle LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the world-champion Lakers(0-1) at Staples Center on Christmas day.

Dallas returns to playing on Christmas for the first time in nine years, and one of the reasons the Mavericks are playing on Christmas is because of Doncic, who, according to Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, is one of the faces of the NBA.

“He’s already one of the faces of the NBA,” Carlisle said on Thursday. “If you haven’t noticed, he’s in almost all of the NBA ads. I’ve seen him on some billboards that aren’t in the state of Texas. He’s a great ambassador for the NBA game. 

“He has the charisma; he has the game, and he has the following. So, he’s got an amazing future ahead of him, but also a lot going on right now. He’s up for this. He’s one of the few 21-year-olds that I can imagine that actually has the bandwidth to deal with all these different things.”

It’s clear that Doncic is one of the faces of the league, and if he continues playing at a high level, which he did on Wednesday night when he scored 32 points and the team’s 106-102 loss to the Suns, Doncic could be the most prominent face in the NBA. However, for that to happen, he must continue to make memories on the league’s biggest stages and ultimately, he has to win, which if the first couple years are any indication, could happen sooner than later.

44 finalists announced for 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team

Headed by three-time Olympic medalist LeBron James  (Los Angeles Lakers), and including nine members of the gold medalist 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, seven gold medalists from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team and all 12 members of the USA’s 2019 FIBA World Cup Team, 44 athletes were announced by USA Basketball today as finalists for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team. The player selections were approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors. The official 12-member 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team roster will be announced later this year.

Featuring 29 players who have played for the USA in Olympic and/or FIBA World Cup competitions and who together have collected 31 Olympic or FIBA Basketball World Cup gold medals and four bronze medals, the 44 finalists for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team include:

Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat); LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs); Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings); Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns); Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers); Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics);  Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat); Mike Conley (Utah Jazz); Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers); DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs); Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets); Paul George (L.A. Clippers); Draymond Green(Golden State Warriors); James Harden (Houston Rockets); Montrezl Harrell (L.A. Clippers); Joe Harris  (Brooklyn Nets); Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers); Gordon Hayward (Boston Celtics); Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers); Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans); Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets); LeBron James(Los Angeles Lakers); Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers); Kawhi Leonard (L.A. Clippers); Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers); Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks); Kevin Love  (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors); JaVale McGee (Los Angeles Lakers); Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks); Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz); Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers); Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder); Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets); Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics); Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics); Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors); Myles Turner  (Indiana Pacers); Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics); Russell Westbrook( Houston Rockets); and Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs).

The USA National Team coaching staff is led by San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, and serving as USA assistant coaches are Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Atlanta Hawks head coach  Lloyd Pierce and Villanova University head coach Jay Wright.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said Jerry Colangelo, who has served as the managing director of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team since 2005.

“The commitment, desire and excitement of all of our athletes to represent their country is genuine and remarkable. All of the finalists are exceptionally gifted athletes who offer us amazing versatility and depth, and the group of finalists features a range of players from those who are very experienced and accomplished in international basketball to players who will be future international stars.

“Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Five-time NBA champion and longtime San Antonio Spurs head coach Popovich was announced on Oct. 23, 2015, head coach of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team for the 2017-20 quadrennium.  Now in his 24th season as the Spurs head coach, Popovich also boasts of full resume of international coaching experience.

“I’m looking forward to coaching the U.S. Olympic Team, and I’m excited about the potential and possibilities this team has,” said USA mentor Popovich.  “Anyone who follows international basketball knows there are many really good players from all around the world, and therefore there are many excellent national teams. International basketball has improved so much from the days of the Dream Team. The Olympics in 2020 will be a true competition, and there are many teams that will have a legitimate shot at capturing gold.”  

James is a three-time Olympic medalist (2004 bronze and 2008 and 2012 gold) who is attempting to make a historic fourth U.S. Olympic men’s team. A fourth Olympic appearances would tie James with Carmelo Anthony  for the most by any U.S. male basketball player. Durant (2012 and 2016) and Paul (2008 and 2012) are seeking to become three-time Olympians and join Anthony, James and David Robinson as the USA’s only three-time U.S. Olympic male basketball players.

Nine players from the gold medal winning 2016 U.S. Olympic team that went 8-0 in Rio remain in contention for the 2020 U.S. Olympic squad, including Barnes, Butler, DeRozan, Durant, George, Green, Irving, Lowry and Thompson. Davis, Durant, Harden, James, Love, Paul and Westbrook were members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team that compiled an unblemished record of 8-0 and captured gold in London, while Howard, James and Paul were gold medalists with the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. Additionally, James earned a bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

All 12 members of the USA’s 2019 World Cup Team are finalists and include Barnes, Brown, Joe Harris, Lopez, Middleton, Mitchell, Plumlee, Smart, Tatum, Turner, Walker and White. Eight members of the 2014 USA World Cup Team that finished 9-0 and captured gold in Spain are among the finalists including, including Curry, Davis, DeRozan, Drummond, Harden, World Cup MVP Irving, Plumlee and Thompson. Four finalists were members of the 2010 USA World Championship squad that went 9-0 and captured gold in Istanbul, Turkey: Curry, World Cup MVP Durant, Love and Westbrook; and Howard, James and Paul earned a bronze medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan.

The finalists represent 21 different NBA teams, with the Boston Celtics (Brown, Hayward, Smart, Tatum and Walker) and the Los Angeles Lakers (Davis, Howard, James, Kuzma and McGee) leading the way with five players each. The Brooklyn Nets (Durant, Joe Harris and Irving), Golden State Warriors (Curry, Green and Thompson), Indiana Pacers (Brogdon, Oladipo and Turner), L.A. Clippers (George, Harrell and Leonard) and the San Antonio Spurs (Aldridge, DeRozan and White) each feature three players. The Cleveland Cavaliers (Drummond and Love), Houston Rockets (Harden and Westbrook), Miami Heat (Adebayo and Butler), Milwaukee Bucks (Lopez and Middleton) and Utah Jazz (Conley and Mitchell) each have two players among the 44 finalists; and the Denver Nuggets (Plumlee), New Orleans Pelicans (Ingram), Oklahoma City Thunder (Paul), Philadelphia 76ers (Tobias Harris), Phoenix Suns (Booker), Portland Trail Blazers (Lillard), Sacramento Kings (Barnes), Toronto Raptors (Lowry) and the Washington Wizards (Beal) each are represented by one player.

The USA National Team’s complete training schedule for 2020 will be announced at a later date.