US overwhelms Australia in Olympic hoops

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US overwhelms Australia in Olympic hoops

By BRIAN MAHONEY LONDON (AP) -- As the shot fell through the net, Kobe Bryant held up three fingers on each hand. It was his third straight 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, enough for the U.S. men's Olympic team to finally put away stubborn Australia. Yes, all's fine with Bryant, and the Americans' gold medal hopes, as well. Bryant silenced his critics and broke open a tight game with six 3-pointers in the second half Wednesday night as the U.S. advanced to the semifinals of the London Games with a 119-86 victory over Australia. "Somebody made him mad. I could see it in his eyes," American Kevin Durant said. "I wanted him to kind of turn it on and that's what he did." On a night when LeBron James had the first Olympic triple-double by a U.S. player, the story was Bryant's awakening from his Olympic slumber. The five-time NBA champion has even said this team could have beaten the Dream Team, and on the 20th anniversary of that squad's gold-medal win, he put on the kind of show that makes his claim hard to dismiss. Bryant scored all of his 20 points after halftime, finally delivering the kind of game expected of him in London. He had insisted his time would come, and none of his teammates ever doubted it. "I kind of knew what button to push with him. I was talking to him at halftime and in the third quarter and I guess I pushed the button. He woke up and to see that, I've been on the other side of the ball and had that situation before," teammate Carmelo Anthony said. Bryant, a top-five scorer in NBA history, brushed away Anthony's attempts to take credit as easily as the questions he's been hearing in London. "He was just saying, 'Let's see what we see during the season.' But by that point, I was already revved up," Bryant said. James had 11 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists for the Americans, who advanced to their third straight Olympic semifinal meeting with Argentina, which beat Brazil earlier Wednesday. Deron Williams added 18 points, Anthony had 17 and Durant 14. The Americans beat the Argentines 126-97 on Monday in the final game of pool play, yet another night they didn't need much from Bryant, who came in averaging just 9.4 points and hearing whispers that something must be wrong with him, though both he and his teammates kept assuring people there was no problem. This time was different -- eventually -- after Bryant misfired on all four shots in the first half. "Just kind of searching for something to get me going, for something that would activate the Black Mamba, as Coach calls it," Bryant said. That came when Australia scored the first 11 points of the second half, cutting the Americans' lead to three after back-to-back 3-pointers by Joe Ingles. The U.S. lead was only six before Bryant, who had never gotten in an offensive rhythm in London and just minutes earlier had committed another puzzling offensive foul, finally broke out. He made a 3-pointer, then batted away a pass, chased it down along the left sideline and pulled up for another 3 that made it 70-58. James followed with a basket that pushed it to 14, and the Americans never let the Australians get much closer. Bryant made sure of it. He finished 6 of 10 behind the arc, making three straight in the fourth quarter as part of a 17-2 run to blow it open, the crowd chanting "Kobe! Kobe!" before he finally missed on a ridiculously long attempt before calling it a night. Patty Mills scored 26 points and Ingles had 19 for Australia, which had the misfortune of running into the U.S. in the quarterfinals for the second straight Olympics. "The difference in the game was their transition buckets and 3-pointers, and Kobe got a little bit sniff," Mills said. "And for great teams, that's all they need and they stretch it out." Even the Australian fans were cheering for Bryant as he walked to the locker room after a postgame interview. First, he knocked fists with the Aussies' kangaroo mascot, wearing boxing gloves on his hands. Bryant sure knocked out the Australians. Bodies fell and blood flowed in a physical first half, the Americans taking plenty of hits but delivering them as well, such as the one that sent Australia's David Barlow to the bench with a bloody nose that took a while to control. But the spirited play brought out the best in Bryant, who insists he's content taking a lesser role with other, much younger scorers such as James, Durant and Anthony willing to carry the load. He said the same things in Beijing and came through with 20 points in the gold-medal game, so the Americans know they can count on him to rise to a challenge. They expect another one from Argentina, which beat the U.S. in 2004 on its way to the gold medal, a loss the Americans avenged before winning gold in Beijing. Russia plays Spain in the other semifinal. The crowd on the first night of action at the North Greenwich Arena included NBA Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, who have said they may prefer the Olympics be limited to players 23 and younger in the future. First, they saw why fans want to keep seeing America's best -- and what everyone expected from Bryant all along. "You see it all the time, but that was the first time we've seen it here," Durant said. "He got so upset and when he does that he's in another world."

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Kings-Pelicans trade puts more options on table for Wizards

Kings-Pelicans trade puts more options on table for Wizards

NEW ORLEANS -- Suddenly, the market has become flooded with names who could/will be on the move which should make for a lot of action going into Thursday afternoon's NBA trade deadline. Despite not having a lot of wiggle room, the Wizards find themselves in a better spot than anticipated.

There are a lot of sellers out there with the Sacramento Kings having waived forward Matt Barnes after trading DeMarcus Cousins.

Former Wizards guard Garrett Temple told CSNmidatlantic.com in a conversation early Monday that Barnes was one of the three best teammates he has ever had in Sacramento, and that includes stops with the Spurs, Rockets, Bucks, Hornets and four full seasons in Washington. Former Wizards Jared Dudley also chimed in during a Twitter exchange about Barnes, who is known for his fiery temper and clashing publicly with Derek Fisher over his ex-wife. 

The Wizards likely will do something to retool their bench now that they're in good position at 34-21 coming out of the All-Star break and in third place in the East. 

They could use another scorer, ideally at shooting guard behind Bradley Beal. Barnes, a 6-7, is a small forward who can play at the stretch position, too.

[RELATED: Kings no longer have Cousins to blame for dysfunction]

He averaged 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 54 games for Sacramento this season. He was among the players brought in to help guide Cousins but became expendable when Buddy Hield and Tyreke Evans were acquired in the deal. 

If a team were to claim Barnes during the 48-hour period on waivers, they'd be responsible for the balance of his $6.1 million salary for this season. It was the first year of a two-year deal for $12.5 million.

Barnes isn't the only one who could be on the market as a result of Cousins' trade. New Orleans and Sacramento appear willing to part with assests for draft picks:

Darren Collison, Kings: The point guard is averaging 13.7 points, 4.2 assists and a career-high 42.1% from the three-point line. He's a starter on a reasonable mid-level exception contract of $5.3 million and will become unrestricted this summer. But would he be in addition to Trey Burke or in place of him?

Ben McLemore, Kings: They've been willing to move the 2013 lottery pick for quite some time. A shooting guard, he averages just 6.6 points and shoots 41.2% from the field. The light appears never to have come on and he turned off the Wizards during the pre-draft process. They wanted to arrange a workout but he wasn't organized, willing or able to meet with them. They ended up taking Otto Porter which was expected, but that didn't leave a good impression. And what he's done so far in the league hasn't, either. McLemore is in the final year of his rookie scale contract that pays $4 million and will be restricted if the team that owns his rights this summer make him a qualifying offer. If not, he becomes unrestricted.

Arron Afflalo, Kings: A 6-5 shooting guard, he's likely able to be had, too. At 31, he was part of the veteran group the Kings put around Cousins to no avail. A year ago, Afflalo looked like a possible free-agent steal when he signed a two-year, $25 million deal. He's had a terrible season, averaging just 7.8 points as a starter and shooting just 43%. But defensively, which was supposed to be his strong suit, is where he has declined most. Not the same player he used to be.

Terrence Jones, Pelicans: The 6-9 forward off the bench for New Orleans wants out and its willing to let him leave. His stats are good, 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds, and he could've been had by the Wizards before this season started. Jones is on a minimum contract. His position isn't the greatest area of need for Washington, but he's better than some pieces currently not playing.  

[RELATED: Wall laughs off Westbrook moment]

No. 18 Virginia struggles against Miami, loses its fourth straight game

No. 18 Virginia struggles against Miami, loses its fourth straight game

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Bruce Brown made a 3-pointer with 23.8 seconds left in overtime, and Miami beat No. 18 Virginia 54-48 on Monday night for the Cavaliers fourth straight loss.

Brown scored 14 points to lead the Hurricanes (19-8, 9-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) to their third consecutive victory. Kamari Murphy and Dejan Vasiljevic added 10 points each.

Devon Hall scored 15 points to lead Virginia (18-9, 8-7), which last lost four straight in 2009-10, Tony Bennett's first season as coach. Isaiah Wilkins added 10 points and 10 rebounds, including two free throws with four seconds left in regulation to tie it.

Miami thought it had won when Davon Reed hit a 3-pointer at the end of the second half, but a video review was used to determine he released the ball just after the buzzer.

A putback by Marial Shayok with 39 seconds left gave the Cavaliers a 48-47 lead, but Brown made his only 3-pointer of the game on the Hurricanes' ensuing possession, and Miami sealed it at the free-throw line.

Both teams shot under 40 percent, with Virginia at just 31.4 percent, and it wasn't until Hall made a pair of free throws with 3:38 left in the second half that either team broke the 40-point mark. However, the Cavaliers were then scoreless until Wilkins made 1-of-1 on a trip to the line with just five seconds left in regulation. 

CSN Mid-Atlantic contributed to this report. 

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