Aug 31, 2011, 10:51 PM EDT
Over in Lithuania there is actual basketball being played by elite players. Sure, it’s not as purely entertaining as Goodman vs. Melo, but this has something that does not — real drama. That’s because there are real things on the line — national pride and a berth in the Olympics to the top two finishers.
Here is a quick round up of the Day One action.
Spain 83, Poland 78: Spain is the most talented team in the EuroBasket, Poland (playing without Marcin Gortat) is all kinds of scrappy. This looked a lot like a Lakers vs. Timberwolves game in January — the more talented team was disinterested and uninspired. The lesser talented team fought hard. But in the end Pau Gasol was too much inside for the Gortat-less Poles, finishing with 29 points on 12 shots and 7 boards. That was enough to get the win. Spain is notorious for being sloppy in group play and getting it together in elimination games, they are living up to that.
Line of the game: Ricky Rubio with 0-0-0 (no points, rebounds or assists). He was off and blew a wide-open layup late. David Kahn says to ignore that film, Timberwolves fans.
France 89, Latvia 78: The question is if France can score enough in this tournament, but Tony Parker took care of that by taking over in the second half of this game to score a team high 31. But you should watch Latvia for Jamis Blums, he’s fun.
Germany 91, Israel 64: Dirk Nowitzki was not feeling well, but you can ask LeBron James and Dwyane Wade how much that matters. Nowitzki had 25 points, Chris Kaman added 18 and 10 boards and that was too much for Israel inside.
Serbia 80, Italy 68: Serbia was up 18 at one point but Italy nibbled away at it and made it interesting in the fourth quarter. Hey Raptors fans, did you know that Andrea Bargnani comes off the bench for the Italian team? Just sayin’.
Montenegro 70, Macedonia 65 (OT): This is the first ever win for Montenegro in EuroBasket play. Valdimir Dasic had 20 and 16 for the winners.
Georgia 81, Belgium 59: Georgia was in control the whole way behind Zaza Pachilia’s 16 points.
Turkey 79, Portugal 56: Good news Jazz fans, Enes Kanter looked good with 14 points (tied for the team high with Hedo Turkoglu) and 7 rebounds. Of course, Portugal is one of the weak sisters of this competition, Kanter will face tougher tests. But a nice start.
Russia 73, Ukraine 64: We have no doubt that Mike Fratello is coaching up the Ukraine, but when the healthy, motivated Andrei Kirilenko showed up for Russia it didn’t matter. AK-47 had 20 points and 11 boards
In other action: Greece 76, Bosnia-Herzegovina 67; Slovinia 67, Bulgaria 59; Croatia 84, Finland 79; Lithuania 80, Great Britain 69 (Luol Deng had 25 points, Jonas Valanciunas barely got off the bench).
- Metta World Peace says Howard isn’t going anywhere because he has a hold on his… um… those 16
- In praise of the brilliant, baffling Manu Ginobili 20
- If Doc is out, who is in for Celtics? Maybe Del Negro, Frank 15
- Where does Celtics’ Rivers, Garnett trade to Clippers stand? They’re talking. 28
- Boris Diaw’s defense slowed LeBron down. I know, right? 26
- Lakers unlikely to sign and trade Dwight Howard to the Clippers, Rockets, or anyone else (81)
- LeBron James: “I just have to play better” (77)
- Heat’s Big Three dominate Game 4 to even the Finals at two games apiece (74)
- Report: Clippers, Celtics talks to send Garnett, Rivers to L.A. stalled (72)
- Reports: Jason Kidd finalizes deal, will be Nets new coach (62)
- Bruins stymie Blackhawks, take Game 3
- Survival and heartbreak at US Open
- Protesters back in streets of Brazilian cities
- Radio hosts fired for mocking ex-NFL player with ALS
- Posnanski: More Open heartbreak for Mickelson
- PHT: Bruins go 'above and beyond' in Gm. 3
- PHT: Hossa day to day with upper-body injury