Team USA prepares for Lithuania; Jordan takes another gamble

By: 09.11.10  •  41 Comments

Danny Granger (photo. Stephen Hill)

We’re all the way to the Final Four of the World Championship, and it’s still not clear whether Team USA is simply way better than almost everybody, or if they’ve yet to get a truly tough test (beyond the Brazil game). After today’s semifinal there won’t be any doubt, though. Lithuania has been ballin’ in the WC, going undefeated and coming off a surprisingly easy smashing of Argentina. Linas Kleiza is playing out of his mind, averaging 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds … Can Danny Granger get some PT today? He was the only guy to catch a DNP-CD in the Russia game, which probably had something to do with Kevin Durant rarely leaving the floor, and not — like some readers have (we think) seriously suggested — because Granger represents Indiana and Coach K is still hating on Butler. Against a Lithuania team whose strength is on the wings and in the frontcourt, we’d imagine Granger should see some burn … Spain wasn’t supposed to play yesterday. Not when it was consolation day in Turkey, not when Ricky Rubio, Marc Gasol, J.C. Navarro and crew were supposed to be getting ready for Saturday’s semis. So you can understand why they might have started the game against Slovenia slowly, but eventually got their act together and proceeded to blow out an inferior opponent … It was actually just a two-point game going into the fourth quarter, but Navarro took over down the stretch as Spain dominated and won by 17. If Navarro (26 pts, 7 asts) is only going to be happy in the NBA playing with his boy Pau Gasol, have the Lakers put their bid in? Would you take Navarro over Steve Blake as your backup PG to Derek Fisher? Or how about in that backup SG spot instead of Shannon Brown? … It’d be easy to look at Rubio’s underwhelming stat lines (3 pts, 5 asts, 2 stls) and start carving his statue for the LaRue Martin Memorial NBA Bust Hall of Fame, but remember, he’s still only 19 years old. And Rubio plays the kind of game where success isn’t measured in stats … The other team who wasn’t supposed to be playing yesterday, Argentina, took care of business in their consolation game by beating Russia. Luis Scola got back to the business of destroying the comp, putting up 27 points (11-19 FG), while Carlos Delfino added 26 points, 7 boards, 3 steals and 5 threes … Darius Miles isn’t finished yet. After getting a couple whiffs of interest during the summer, he accepted a training-camp invite from the Bobcats. Between Miles (who is only 28) and Kwame Brown, Michael Jordan is really thinking he can salvage anything. Who’s next, Stanley Roberts? … Joe Smith isn’t done, either. He signed on with the Nets, where he’ll mentor Derrick Favors and hopefully take all of his money over the table. That’s eight teams now for the #1 pick in the ’95 Draft, and since it looks like Joe will be able to play forever, he might pass Drew Gooden before he’s through … We’re out like Stanley Roberts …

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