Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Tony Parker, France stun Argentina
ESPN.com news services
LONDON -- They've been teammates for so long that they're basketball brothers, family. They've won countless games and three NBA titles together.
But Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were out of place Tuesday night -- on opposite teams in the Olympics.
The separated San Antonio Spurs.
"Very strange," Ginobili said. "The first time ever after playing probably like a thousand games together. Wishing him to miss a shot is kind of something new."
Parker scored 17 points and fed a lob pass over Ginobili for a key basket in the final two minutes to help France stun Argentina 71-64 in a preliminary round tournament game featuring 10 NBA players.
Parker, wearing goggles to protect a left eye seriously injured in a New York nightclub brawl in June, got the best of his close friend Ginobili in the first game between the two All-Stars.
"It was special," said Parker. "Manu is one of my best friends. We've been playing together for a long time and it was kind of weird to be playing against him."
With France leading 67-62, Parker -- one of the world's most dangerous players with the ball in the open floor -- drove the left side and threaded his pass over Ginobili's outstretched arms to Kevin Seraphin, who laid it in to make it 69-62 with 1:07 left.
Following a miss by Argentina, Parker made two free throws to put the game away for France, which was rocked by 27 points on Sunday by the Americans.
"Obviously it a big win for us," Parker said. "We were little bit disappointed with the way we played against the U.S.A. We wanted to play a lot better."
Nicolas Batum added 14 points and Mickael Gelabale 13 for France (1-1), which came in 0-4 in Olympic competition against Argentina.
Ginobili scored 26 -- 18 in the second half -- and Luis Scola had 16 for Argentina (1-1), which had looked so impressive in a 23-point win over Lithuania in its opener.
Following the respective national anthems, Parker and Ginobili sought each other out and shared a warm embrace near center court before the opening tip. The pair hugged again after the game, perhaps relieved they're on the same team most of the time.
After Ginobili's 3-pointer brought Argentina within 60-58, Parker, who had to be treated for a cut on the bridge of his nose, went to work.
He made two straight layups, the second on a nifty scoop after dribbling through traffic to make it 64-58. Ginobili threw the ball away on Argentina's next possession and Parker made the gold-medal contenders pay for the turnover by making two free throws to extend France's lead to eight.
"We were lucky that he had only a couple" of big plays, Ginobili said. "He's one of the best players in the world so we knew he was going to be a tough matchup. We controlled him pretty well for three quarters, down the stretch he kind of got away with a couple of plays but he's so talented that can happen."
Parker said he's still adjusting to the goggles, necessary attire after he nearly lost his left eye when he was struck by a piece of broken glass. He's also just getting back into shape after missing most of France's practices leading up to the London Games.
"I was just happy at the end I could make a couple of shots and we could get the win," he said.
Spain 82, Australia 70
Pau Gasol scored 20 points to lead Spain to a 82-70 victory over Australia.
Rudy Fernandez added 17 points for Spain, silver medalists at the Beijing Games after losing in the final to the United States.
The Spaniards have several NBA players on their roster, including the 7-foot Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers), his 7-1 brother Marc (Memphis Grizzlies) and 6-10 Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder).
Marc Gasol added 12 points for Spain (2-0). Australia fell to 0-2.
Spain scored the first eight points of the third quarter and went on a 16-4 run keyed by Pau Gasol and Fernandez.
Spain played without captain and one of its leading scorers, guard Juan Carlos Navarro. He has been nursing a left-foot injury the entire year.
Joe Ingles and Brad Newley led Australia with 12 points each.
Russia 73, China 54
Andrei Kirilenko scored 16 points to lead Russia to a win over China Tuesday.
Kirilenko, who signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves last week, also had nine rebounds as Russia (2-0) easily handed China its second defeat in Group B. The former Utah Jazz standout is averaging 25.5 points in Russia's first two games.
Russia went on a 10-0 run to open a 20-10 lead and was never really challenged the rest of the game.
Guard Alexey Shved finished with 14 points for Russia and center Sasha Kaun added 13.
Yi Jianlian, a forward with the Washington Wizards, had 16 points and seven rebounds and was the only China (0-2) player to score in double figures.
Russia pounded China on the boards and finished with a 46-29 rebounding advantage.
Lithuania 72, Nigeria 53
Darius Songaila scored 12 points and Linas Kleiza added 11 to help Lithuania beat Nigeria Tuesday for its first victory in the men's Olympic tournament.
Rimantas Kaukenas finished with 10 points for Lithuania, which bounced back from an opening loss to Argentina. Nigeria fell to 1-1 after opening the tournament with a win over Tunisia.
Lithuania has a long basketball pedigree that includes three Olympic bronze medals, while Nigeria is making its first Olympic appearance in men's basketball.
Nigeria shot just 24 percent from the field and made only one of its 16 three-point attempts.
Lithuania led 34-27 at halftime and steadily increased its margin throughout the third quarter.
Al-Farouq Aminu of the New Orleans Hornets and Ike Diogu had double-doubles for Nigeria. Aminu had 12 points and 11 rebounds; Diogu finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Brazil 67, Britain 62
Tiago Splitter scored 21 points to help Brazil escape with an unexpectedly close win over host Britain Tuesday.
Britain came close to winning its first Olympic game since 1948 but Splitter, who plays with the San Antonio Spurs, hit a key layup off a pinpoint pass in traffic from Marcelinho Huertas to make it 65-59.
Luol Deng was then fouled on a three-point attempt, but hit only one of his free throws. Britain did not foul and Brazil ran 20 seconds off the clock before Deng fouled Huertas -- who sank two free throws with 11 seconds left to seal the game.
Huertas finished with 13 points and eight assists.
Deng, who plays with the Chicago Bulls, missed his first six shots and had 12 points on 3 for 13 shooting. Nate Reinking added 13 points for Britain and Pops Mensah-Bonsu finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.