Team USA news: Blake Griffin out, Anthony Davis in

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Team USA news: Blake Griffin out, Anthony Davis in

From Comcast SportsNet
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Anthony Davis was seated on the court, the best players in the world towering above him. The NBA rookie had just been fouled while making a 3-pointer, falling backward toward the U.S. bench, looking up to see the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant dancing in celebration. The Americans weren't just giddy over the basket. Their joy was in knowing they can count on the kid in the Olympics. With Blake Griffin heading for left knee surgery that will keep him from London, Davis is expected to join the Americans as they chase another gold medal. He got his first taste of playing with them in a 113-59 exhibition victory over the Dominican Republic on Thursday night, which ended about the time the Los Angeles Clippers were announcing the news about Griffin. "Hopefully he gets back quick and has a great season next year because he deserves it," U.S. teammate Kevin Durant said. "You know he played so hard and he's all about the team, and we're going to string Anthony along and hopefully he comes in and fills a void." Durant had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Americans, who will add Griffin to at least four other players who were knocked out of the Olympics because of injuries. Griffin returned to Los Angeles on Thursday for further evaluation after reporting discomfort in the same knee that bothered him in the playoffs following Wednesday's practice. The Clippers said he will require arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and he should be ready for the start of the NBA season. "We're relieved that this does not affect Blake's ability to be ready in time for training camp," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said in a statement. "Missing out on the Olympic experience will be tough for him to take. I know how dedicated he was to doing that. We're glad we can get this fixed now and take advantage of the available time for him to fully recover." USA Basketball officials said following the game they hadn't been told Griffin would be forced to pull out. Once he does, the Americans will be able to replace him on their 12-man roster. Davis, the national college player of the year who had failed to make the roster Saturday after a sprained ankle forced him to sit out scrimmages, was told to return to Las Vegas. He scored nine points in 10 minutes against the Dominicans, who were led by his college coach, John Calipari of national champion Kentucky. "As far as I know I'm still an alternate. I'm not on the team yet, so got to keep working," Davis said. The Americans love Davis' rebounding and shot blocking, but not his youth. Griffin is older and stronger, and coach Mike Krzyzewski noted he's played against Spain center Pau Gasol in the NBA. Griffin was being counted on to play center and looked sharp earlier in camp, throwing down some of his impressive highlight dunks. "Blake is a proven commodity, and if we don't have him, it's a big loss," Krzyzewski said. "He was playing really well for us." The Clippers, who just signed Griffin to a 5-year, 95 million extension, will see another specialist Sunday, and surgery is expected to be scheduled soon. Once it was determined he was leaving, the U.S. staff told Davis to return from Los Angeles, where he had attended the ESPY awards Wednesday and was scheduled to meet with his agent Thursday. And if he sticks with the Americans, Calipari will have to alter his summer plans after the Dominicans finished one win short of qualifying for the Olympics. "If he's on the team and he makes that trip then I'm probably going to have to make a trip to London, anyway," Calipari said. Davis' defensive talents would be a welcome addition on a U.S. team that has New York's Tyson Chandler as its only remaining center. Players can be replaced on the roster in case of injury any time up to 48 hours before the start of the Olympics. The Americans lost two centers, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh, to injuries before camp, along with Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade. Chris Paul, Griffin's Clippers teammate, sprained his right thumb on the first day of camp and had been sitting out scrimmages. Despite those losses, the Americans still consider themselves the best team in the world -- and apparently, ever. Kobe Bryant created a stir when he said he thought this young, athletic U.S. team probably would have pulled out a game against the Dream Team, which didn't sit well with his Hall of Fame elders. "I absolutely laughed," Michael Jordan said before playing in a celebrity golf tournament in Charlotte, N.C. "For him to compare those two teams is not one of the smarter things he ever could have done." Bryant wasn't backing down, nor bothered by Jordan's response. "I'm not really tripping," Bryant said. "The fact is they've got (Patrick) Ewing and (David) Robinson, those big guys. I mean it's tough. But if you're asking me if we can beat them one game, hell yeah we can beat them one game. You didn't ask me if we could beat them in a seven-game series. One game, we could get them, no question about it." The Americans believe they can be better than the team that won the gold medal four years ago because of Durant, the NBA's three-time scoring champion who seems even more dangerous in international competition. The 3-point line, just over 22 feet away, is an easy shot for him, and at 6-foot-9 he can play any frontcourt position -- he entered the game the first time for Chandler. Durant set U.S. tournament records two years ago in Istanbul with 38 points in a game and an average of 22.8 for the championship, leading a young U.S. team to its first gold medal in the event since 1994. He has transitioned easily to this veteran squad that returns five players from the gold medalists in Beijing, coming off the bench to shoot 9 of 11 from the field, making 5 of 6 3-pointers in 22 minutes. About the only thing to question about the U.S. were their uniforms, featuring white tops with the pattern of an American flag faded into the back, and shorts that were white in the front and blue in back, making them look like the home team facing one direction and the visitors from behind. The Americans head across the country Friday to continue their training in Durant's hometown of Washington. They will play an exhibition game against Brazil on Monday before finishing their Olympic preparations in Europe. The Dominicans lost former Louisville guard Edgar Sosa to a leg injury in the first quarter. Calipari believed he had a broken foot.

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Wizards players complain about referees after loss to Utah Jazz: 'No-name guys are getting calls'

Wizards players complain about referees after loss to Utah Jazz: 'No-name guys are getting calls'

The Wizards' loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday featured a significant difference in free throw attempts between the teams, so drastic that several Wizards players spoke at length about what they felt was a major slight by the officiating crew.

At halftime, the Wizards had just one free throw attempt compared to 18 for the Jazz. By the end of the game, Utah held a 32-13 advantage and that was even after some makeup calls at the end, according to Wizards point guard John Wall.

"We were being physical and we were competing. We attacked the basket just as much as them. You look at some of the calls they got and some of the calls we should have got," he said. "Near the end of the game refs always try to make up for what they missed. But you can't make up for [18] to one free throws in the first half."

Wall thought the refs did not call a fair game and seemed almost insulted by the late effort to give him and his teammates free throws.

"Just ask the refs. They know. They didn't make the calls," he said. "You keep attacking the basket and no-name guys are getting calls on the other end on little contact. Then you drive to the basket and get contact the whole game and they try to make up for those calls in the last two or three minutes of the game... Don't try to give me the calls when there is 30, 45 seconds or a minute left to make me feel good. That's not going to change the outcome or how aggressive I want to be the whole game."

The Wizards were called for 27 fouls, while the Jazz were tagged for 19. Combined with an already tough defense and Utah was too much for the Wizards in a 102-92 loss. That snapped a 23-game streak for the Wizards of scoring at least 100 points.

Guard Bradley Beal pointed out the difference in free throws at halftime as a "little weird." Forward Markieff Morris went further.

"All we can ask for them is to do their job to the best of their capabilities, like they ask of us every night," he said of referees Bill Spooner, Eric Dalen and Eric Lewis. "We had a bad game, they had a bad game. We came out with the loss and that's the consequences in those games."

For the Wizards, they feel like this has been a common theme this season. Washington is 26th out of 30 NBA teams in free throw attempts (21.3) per game. Opponents average 24.2 free throws per game, ninth-most in the league.

"We haven't been getting calls all year," Beal said.

"That's typically been happening all year. It's unfortunate," Morris added.

"It didn't go our way and that's nothing new. We've dealt with this before," Wall said. "I'm used to it. We're used to it by now. We don't get too many calls. It's funny. They always say the same thing. All we can do is try to put it aside and try to compete. But it's tough when you have an outrageously high number, [18] to one and it ended up being 32 to 13."

Morris fouled out of the game after picking up two in less than a minute. His final foul was a charging call. Morris then tossed the basketball in the referee's direction and was called for two technical fouls. He fouled out, then got ejected, all on the same play.

"Refs and their feelings. It's like that all the time. It is what it is," he said.

Wall also let his emotions get the best of him. He was issued a technical foul with :22 seconds left in the first half. That's his 11th of the season.

"It gets frustrating, but I've gotta do a better job of holding my emotions in check," he said.

If Wall gets to 16 he will be suspended one game, per NBA rules.

[RELATED: Jazz coach: Wall and Beal are NBA's best backcourt]

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Takeaways from Wizards' loss to tough Utah Jazz behind Gordon Hayward's 30 points

Takeaways from Wizards' loss to tough Utah Jazz behind Gordon Hayward's 30 points

The good times are no longer rolling for the Wizards now that the All-Star break is over. They lost their second in a row Sunday – the first time they’ve lost consecutive games since Jan. 3 – 102-92 to the Utah Jazz at Verizon Center in front of 19,648.

John Wall (23 points, 11 assists) and Bradley Beal (22 points) led Washington but it was dominated on both ends of the floor by one of the league’s elite defensive teams. The Wizards were held to less than 100 points for the first time in 24 games after being embarrassed Friday in a 120-112 loss at the Philadelphia 76ers.

They were bruised early and often by Utah (37-22), which held them to just 15 points in the second quarter as they trailed 49-39 at the half and never got the deficit to less than 10 until a jumper from Beal in the final four minutes.

Gordon Hayward (30 points, eight rebounds) led all scorers for the Jazz, followed by George Hill (21 points, six assists), Rudy Gobert (15 points, 20 rebounds), Rodney Hood (11 points) and Derrick Favors (10 points, seven rebounds).

A pair of foul shots by Bojan Bogdanovic (15 points), playing for the second time since being acquired in a trade, pulled the Wizards to 95-89 but Hayward responded with a pair of three-pointers to slam the door shut.

[RELATED: Jazz coach: Wall and Beal are NBA's best backcourt]

--Beal didn’t score in the first half, missing his only two shots as he played 11 minutes as he was limited by three fouls. His pull-up jump shot at 8:54 of the third was his first field goal but the Wizards still were down 56-43.

--Morris fouled out with 7:31 because of a charge. He was then ejected as he received his seventh and eighth technical of the season. Wall was called for his 10th technical in the first half. Hill didn’t get called for his first foul until 5:17 was left in the game, which was part of Wall’s frustration. The Jazz were 23 of 32 from the foul line. The Wizards were 10 of 13.

--Ian Mahinmi (seven points, two rebounds) only played seven minutes against Philadelphia because of back spasms. He returned to play a season-high 16 minutes and was part of a late run in the third quarter that trimmed the 24-point deficit to 73-60 to enter the fourth.

--Gobert and Favors dominated inside. They combined for seven blocks and converted lob after lob at the rim. Marcin Gortat (six points, eight rebounds) was pulled at 6:48 of the third quarter. Defensively they snuffed out the Wizards’ pick-and-roll and broke up lobs at the rim to Morris on two occasions. They also combined to grabbed 27 total rebounds and contributed to the overall one-sidedness,  51-27.

--Jason Smith, who was the best player off the bench for Washington in the loss to Philadelphia, didn’t make an appearance for the first time since Dec. 18. He’s lost his time to Mahinmi and Bogdanovic.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Wall has crossover and alley-oop back-to-back]