(By Eric Pincus - Los Angeles Times) Kobe Bryant (6'6''-SG-78) was presented with an official jersey from the Italian National Basketball team after the Lakers' 102-84 victory over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Giancarlo Migliola, press officer of the Italian Basketbakk Federation (FIP), gave Bryant the jersey after the game. The No. 18 didn't have specific significance but it read "Kobe" on the back. Bryant spent many of his formative years in Italy as his father, Joe Bryant , played overseas. The Lakers All-Star guard could be heard yelling, "Forza, Italia!" as he walked away after the presentation, which translates to "Let's go, Italy!" Witnessing the exchange was Steve Nash (6'3''-PG-74, college: Santa Clara), who met with Migliola and was presented with a jersey as well (without a number or name). Bryant has hinted in the past that he'd consider playing in Italy after he retires from the NBA.
Thunder, in Rout, Push Warriors to Brink - May 25, 2016
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The Golden State Warriors came here with a well-earned reputation as cool and collected, the greatest basketball show on earth. The defending league champions and the most credentialed regular-season team in N.B.A. history, with 73 victories, the Warriors left Chesapeake Energy Arena late Tuesday night on the brink of elimination, battered in successive games by an Oklahoma City Thunder team that played like a tornado. With a convincing 118-94 Game 4 victory, the Thunder took a three-game... [read more]
The Golden State Warriors came here with a well-earned reputation as cool and collected, the greatest basketball show on earth. The defending league champions and the most credentialed regular-season team in N.B.A. history, with 73 victories, the Warriors left Chesapeake Energy Arena late Tuesday night on the brink of elimination, battered in successive games by an Oklahoma City Thunder team that played like a tornado. With a convincing 118-94 Game 4 victory, the Thunder took a three-games-to-one lead in the Western Conference finals, setting up a close-out game Thursday night in Oakland, Calif. Russell Westbrook (6'3''-PG-88, college: UCLA) played more like the league's most valuable player than Stephen Curry (6'3''-PG-88, college: Davidson), who won the award this season and last. Westbrook riddled the Warriors' defense for 36 points and 11 assists, with 11 rebounds for a triple-double. Kevin Durant (6'9''-SF-88, college: Texas) added 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder. 'He just plays with incredible passion,' Thunder Coach Billy Donovan said of Westbrook. 'He's got such great force and great will, and he's also a really, really high basketball I.Q. player.' Westbrook said: 'I know that my energy and aggression can impact the game. My energy was good tonight. I was just using my size to get to the basket and create some havoc.' Curry endured a 6-for-20 shooting night, with six turnovers. Klay Thompson (6'7''-G-90, college: Washington St.) had 26 points to lead the Warriors, who finished with 21 turnovers. 'This is probably the longest team in the league that we're facing, and we are continuing to try to throw passes over the top of their outstretched arms,' Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said of the turnovers. 'It's probably not a great idea.' Most satisfying for the Thunder and their raucous fans was Draymond Green (6'7''-F-90, college: Michigan St.)'s continued poor play - he shot 1 for 7 and had six turnovers - after the N.B.A. did not suspend him for his kick of Steven Adams's groin in Game 3. 'The league is pro-business - he's one of the best players,' Durant said, suggesting the league was not going to meddle too much in its marquee series. 'We're not upset about it; that's just how it goes.' Given time to sleep on the N.B.A.'s decision to punish but not suspend him, Green insisted he would not become tentative or change the essential character of his game. 'I'm never going to be careful - I'm an emotional player,' he said before Game 4. He was not being defiant, or flippant, saying that the Warriors needed all the passion they could muster against a Thunder team brimming with talent and growing in confidence. Green at least was a man of his word. On the Thunder's first possession, Adams grabbed an offensive rebound, backed into the lane against Andrew Bogut and was hacked by Green, helping out from the weak side. But for all of Green's promises of a new night, a renewed aggression, it was Adams who had a far greater impact on a first half that looked strikingly familiar to the start to Sunday's Game 3. For the second straight game, Adams, switching out to defend Curry on the perimeter, deflected one of Curry's pull-up 3-pointers, a further demonstration of the agility of Adams, a 7-foot New Zealander. It also signaled a nightmarish half for Curry, who missed 10 of 14 shots, turned the ball over three times and added to the speculation that he is not entirely healthy. 'He's not injured,' Kerr said. 'He just had a lousy night. It happens, even to the best players in the world.' Curry said: 'It's a terrible night to have that happen. It's a terrible feeling not stepping up. But the series isn't over. There's a long way to go. Got to protect home court and try to figure out how to win in this building.' As they did in Game 3, the Thunder sprinted ahead early to a double-digit lead, forcing Kerr to call two timeouts on the way to a 22-8 deficit, the second of which came at the 5-minute-41-second mark and after three straight turnovers led to 8 Thunder points. The Thunder were far from the Durant and Westbrook show, with Serge Ibaka (6'10''-C/F-89) knocking down 6 of his 8 shots and scoring 15 points while Durant and Westbrook were combining for 36. Once again, the Thunder piled up a meaty advantage at the free-throw line, making 21 of 28 - Durant hit all eight of his attempts, and Adams converted 5 of 6 - while the Warriors made 9 of 17. Six of those attempts - and five of the misses - belonged to Festus Ezeli, a backup center getting extended minutes because Bogut had three fouls. Donovan - one win from the N.B.A. finals after making the jump from the college game - took advantage, intentionally putting Ezeli at the line three times just as the game really began to resemble Sunday night's. It was during the last six minutes of Game 3's second quarter that the Green-Adams episode ignited the Thunder on a run that provided a 72-47 halftime lead, a burst from which the Warriors never recovered. This time, the Thunder held a 48-40 lead when the first Ezeli foul occurred. He missed both shots, leading to an Andre Roberson (6'7''-F-91, college: Colorado) put-back basket off a missed Durant jumper. He scored again as Adams, with a no-look pass from inside the lane, found him at the rim for a layup. Flaunting his versatility and increasing influence, Adams hit Roberson again from the key area for another layup. The lead was 69-50 when Curry hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the half. But he left enough time on the clock for Westbrook to rise up from 30 feet and nailed a half-ending 3, giving his team 72 points again and a 19-point lead. It was not quite the 25-point hole the Warriors were in Sunday night, but it was still going to require a very different Warriors team in the second half. Unlike Game 3, in which the third-quarter deficit ballooned to 41, Game 4 featured a Warriors push back behind Thompson, with the team getting as close as 80-74 with 4:48 left in the third. But Curry could never put his imprint on the game as desperation led to another defeat and put that record 73-victory season on the brink. Courtesy of: nytimes.com
Lowry, DeRozan lead Raptors to 105-99 win over Cavaliers - May 24, 2016
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Kyle Lowry (6'0''-PG-86, college: Villanova) scored 35 points, including a driving layup in the final minute, and Demar DeRozan (6'7''-F/G-89, college: USC) had 32 as the Toronto Raptors evened the Eastern Conference Finals by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-99 in Game 4 on Monday night. DeMarre Carroll (6'8''-F-86, college: Missouri, agency: Priority Sports) scored 11 points and Bismack Biyombo had 14 rebounds as Toronto improved to 8-2 at home this postseason. Game 5 is Wednesday ni... [read more]
Kyle Lowry (6'0''-PG-86, college: Villanova) scored 35 points, including a driving layup in the final minute, and Demar DeRozan (6'7''-F/G-89, college: USC) had 32 as the Toronto Raptors evened the Eastern Conference Finals by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-99 in Game 4 on Monday night. DeMarre Carroll (6'8''-F-86, college: Missouri, agency: Priority Sports) scored 11 points and Bismack Biyombo had 14 rebounds as Toronto improved to 8-2 at home this postseason. Game 5 is Wednesday night in Cleveland. Cleveland lost consecutive playoff games to an Eastern Conference opponent for the first time since dropping the final three games of the conference semifinals to Boston in 2010. LeBron James (6'8''-SF-84) scored 29 points and Kyrie Irving (6'3''-G-92, college: Duke) had 26 for the Cavaliers. Channing Frye (6'11''-PF-83, college: Arizona) scored nine of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. The Raptors led by nine points to begin the fourth but Frye made consecutive 3-pointers as Cleveland opened the final quarter with an 8-0 run, cutting it to 78-77. The Cavaliers made their first 11 shots of the fourth quarter. Frye's errant 3-point attempt at 4:12 was their first miss. DeRozan made two free throws at the other end and, after another miss by Frye, Carroll made one of two to put Toronto up 99-96 with 3:23 to go. A long 3 by Irving made it 101-99 with 2:00 left, but DeRozan answered with a driving bank shot at 1:33. Toronto got the ball back after Biyombo blocked JR Smith's 3, and Biyombo kept the offensive possession alive by rebounding Lowry's missed shot. After a timeout, Lowry let the shot clock wind down before driving for the decisive layup, making it 105-99 with 22 seconds to go. Toronto jumped out to a 13-5 lead as Cleveland missed eight of its first 10 shots. Following a timeout, the Cavs made five of their next six to cut the deficit but the Raptors led 27-24 after one quarter. Lowry scored 15 points in the second, making three of Toronto's four 3-pointers, as the Raptors opened a 57-41 halftime lead despite not shooting a single free throw in the first two quarters. It marked the first time a team led by 15 or more at halftime in a conference finals game without shooting a free throw since Game 2 of the 2001 East Finals between Milwaukee and Philadelphia. The Bucks made two of six from the line, the fewest ever made in an NBA playoff game at the time. DeRozan shot Toronto's first free throws at 6:13 of the third after being tackled by Smith on a drive. The foul drought came after Raptors coach Dwane Casey was fined $25,000 for criticizing the officials following Toronto's Game 3 win. After shooting 3 for 22 from 3-point range in the first half, the Cavaliers made their first three long range shots in the third quarter. Cleveland connected on six of eight 3s in the third but DeRozan and Lowry combined for 16 points as Toronto took a 78-69 lead into the fourth. Courtesy of: philstar.com
23-year old Russian ex-international shooting guard Sergey Karasev (201-92kg-93, agency: Stanislav Ryzhov) left Brooklyn Nets. In 40 NBA games he recorded just 2.4ppg and 1.5rpg this season. Karasev played there also last season. In 32 NBA games he averaged 4.8ppg, 2.1rpg and 1.4apg. The previous (13-14) season he played at Canton Charge. In 19 D-League games he averaged 13.0ppg, 5.1rpg and 2.6apg in 2013-14 season. He helped them to end the regular season as a second best team in East Di... [read more]
23-year old Russian ex-international shooting guard Sergey Karasev (201-92kg-93, agency: Stanislav Ryzhov) left Brooklyn Nets. In 40 NBA games he recorded just 2.4ppg and 1.5rpg this season. Karasev played there also last season. In 32 NBA games he averaged 4.8ppg, 2.1rpg and 1.4apg. The previous (13-14) season he played at Canton Charge. In 19 D-League games he averaged 13.0ppg, 5.1rpg and 2.6apg in 2013-14 season. He helped them to end the regular season as a second best team in East Division. Three years ago Karasev was drafted by Cleveland Cavaliers in first round (19th overall). Among other achievements he received Eurobasket.com All-World University Games 1st Team award back in 2013. Karasev was also a member of Russian international program for some years. He played for Russian Senior National Team between 2012 and 2014 and previously for U20 National Team in 2012. Karasev represented Russia at the Qualifications to European Championships 2015 two years ago. His stats at that event were 3 games: 5.7ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 0.0%, 3PT: 62.5%. Karasev has played also professionally in Russia (Zenit). His game is described as:
A young swingman who plays with great confidence and personality. Has great basketball IQ and reads what happens on the court very quickly. Great passer, he moves well without the ball and is a very good outside shooter. Great finisher with both hands too, has immense upside.
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