Diana Taurasi and the U.S. women’s national basketball team capped off their pre-Olympic tour with a dominant offensive show against Australia.
Taurasi scored 15 of her 20 points during a 5-minute span in the third quarter to help the Americans beat Australia 104-89 on Sunday in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden in New York.
“It kind of just happened,” Taurasi said. “On this team you can’t force the issue that much we have so many talented players. It metamorphosed into something without even trying. Today it happened to me. Next month we’ll take turns filling that role. Today it was just me.”
Elena Delle Donne added 19 points for the Americans in the final tuneup for both teams before they head to Rio for the Olympics that begin next weekend. The Americans won every game on their exhibition tour, starting with a four-point victory over a U.S. select team. They also cruised to wins over Canada and France. The U.S. will make a brief stop in Houston to meet up with the men’s team before flying to Rio on Tuesday.
This was the first time in a long time that the U.S. played a pre-Olympic tour on home soil.
“It’s been awesome,” Taurasi said. “To be on this team for this long and it most likely be my last go. The last three games in front of Delaware fans, Connecticut and then the Garden where there’s a different feel, different electricity. … It’s given us a lot of confidence going into Rio.”
The U.S. and Australia are the top two teams in the world and are expected to face off for the gold medal in Rio at the Olympics. The Americans have won the last five Olympic gold medals while Australia has won either the silver or bronze at every one since 1996.
“Even though we lost we got a lot of confidence out of this game,” Australia coach Brendan Joyce said. “We have a bit of a rougher road to a potential rematch with them for a gold medal in Rio.”
The Australians got off to a strong start hitting six of their first 10 shots, including three 3-pointers to build a 17-11 advantage early on. But just as they normally do, the depth on the U.S. team wore down the Opals.
Delle Donne rallied the Americans, scoring 11 points in the first quarter and hitting all four of her shots.
The U.S. scored the first 13 points of the second quarter, including eight by Angel McCoughtry, to build the advantage to 41-25 that capped off a 30-8 burst.
Australia wouldn’t go away. Penny Taylor, who told the AP over the weekend that she was retiring after the WNBA season ends, and Leilani Mitchell got the Opals to 54-48 at the half.
Taurasi took over in the third quarter. She got hot from the outside, hitting three 3-pointers during that 5-minute span to help the U.S. extend its lead to 77-58 and got the crowd of over 13,000 fans on their feet and chanting “U-S-A”. Australia, which won its first two games in the exhibition tournament, could never recover.
Liz Cambage led Australia with 22 points despite being saddled by foul trouble. Mitchell finished with 18 points for Australia.
“They are the best team in the world for a reason,” said Cambage, who played her first-game ever at MSG. “We have some things we need to work on.”
The U.S. honored former Olympians Teresa Edwards, Lisa Leslie, Dawn Staley, Gail Marquis and Juliene Simpson. The national team stayed for the ceremony cheering on the former greats. Marquis and Simpson were on the 1976 team and Edwards, Leslie and Staley helped get this run of five straight gold medals started. After the former greats were introduced to the crowd, the current team ran over and hugged and high-fived them.
The Americans have won 41 consecutive Olympic contests, with the last loss coming in the 1992 bronze medal game. They also have never lost to Australia, going 19-0 in exhibition games, world championship contests and the Olympics.
Graphic Snapchat post is latest misstep for Draymond Green
Draymond Green says he accidentally posted a graphic crotch shot on his Snapchat account, the latest misstep for the Golden State Warriors’ All-Star forward.
Green initially wrote on Twitter that his account had been hacked after the photo was posted, but later said the mistake was his.
“It was a situation where it was meant to be a private message and kind of hit the wrong button, you know?” he said before the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team practiced in Houston. “Like I said, it was meant to be private, but we’re all one click away from placing something in the wrong place and I suffered from that this morning.”
Green’s troubles date to the NBA Finals, when he was suspended for Game 5 for an accumulation of flagrant foul points after hitting LeBron James in the groin area. He was accused earlier this month of striking a Michigan State football player in the face outside a restaurant near the school’s East Lansing campus and will pay $560 for a noise violation in a deal that gets rid of a misdemeanor assault-and-battery charge.
But Green said he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself.
“There’s so many people who struggles on a daily basis, that are going through the struggles on the daily basis, that for me to sit here and say I can’t catch a break because I got suspended for a game in the finals, or I can’t catch a break because of this situation or, like I’m living my dreams, I’m playing in the Olympics,” he said. “So to say I can’t catch a break, I think that’s disrespectful to everybody because like, how many people get to live their dream?”
He and other members of the U.S. team have been posting to social media regularly during an exhibition tour before the Olympics. He said he quickly realized his error, but by then it was too late.
“I figured it out pretty quick, but in this world, quick ain’t quick enough,” Green said. “Once it’s out, it’s out.”
U.S. adds Ram to tennis team in Rio as replacement for Bryans
Rajeev Ram will be heading to the Olympics for the first time, filling in for the U.S. tennis team after the Bryan brothers withdrew.
The U.S. Tennis Association said Ram will play doubles in Rio de Janeiro with Brian Baker.
Ram, who is from Denver, owns nine ATP career doubles titles.
Bob and Mike Bryan announced on Saturday that they would be skipping the Rio Games because of health concerns. They won the gold medal in men’s doubles at London in 2012, and a bronze at Beijing in 2008.
Avalanche sign Barrie to 4-year, $22M deal
The Colorado Avalanche beat an NHL arbitrator to the punch by signing defenseman Tyson Barrie to a four-year, $22 million contract.
The team announced the signing, and a person with direct knowledge of the contract revealed its value to The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the Avalanche did not provide that figure.
The deal was reached two days after both sides made their cases at an arbitration hearing in Toronto but before the arbitrator issued a ruling.
Barrie’s was the first case heard by an arbitrator this summer.
The 25-year-old Barrie has led Avalanche defensemen in points in each of the past two seasons, including a career-high-matching 13 goals and 36 assists for 49 points in 78 games last season.
Barrie also matched a career best with five game-winning goals, and led the Avalanche in power-play points with 21 (three goals, 18 assists).
Overall, he has 40 goals and 113 assists for 153 points in 264 career games.
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