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USA Basketball picks Grant Hill to replace Jerry Colangelo as managing director

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Grant Hill helped the U.S. win Olympic gold in 1996. He would have been on the team again in 2000 if not for injury. And he was among the college kids who famously beat the first “Dream Team” in a scrimmage before the 1992 Olympics.

Now USA Basketball is bringing him back.

Hill will become the men’s national team managing director after the Tokyo Olympics, USA Basketball said Saturday. He’ll replace the retiring Jerry Colangelo, in a move where one Basketball Hall of Famer takes over for another in the critical role of assembling teams that will compete for gold.

“It’s just an incredible opportunity, also an incredible challenge,” Hill said Saturday. “I had the good fortune of participating in international play — the Pan American Games, of course the Olympic team — and I have been a fan of Team USA going back to the 1984 Olympic team when I first started to fall in love with basketball. The more I thought about it, the more intrigued, excited and the more willing I was to roll up my sleeves and move forward with this awesome responsibility.”

Hill’s résumé is elite. He played 19 NBA seasons, was an All-Star seven times — which likely would have been more if not for the ankle problems that derailed his career — and made five All-NBA teams. At Duke, he helped the Blue Devils win national championships in 1991 and 1992.

Hill went into the Hall of Fame in 2018 and has worked as an NBA and college basketball analyst for Turner Sports for nearly a decade. And he’s part of the broadcast team for the men’s Final Four this weekend in Indianapolis, the sixth straight year he’s been on that crew.

He will remain in broadcasting after assuming his USA Basketball job.

“Grant is a proven leader of consequence and character who will continue to help us achieve on our twin goals of winning international competitions and representing our country with honor,” said Martin Dempsey, USA Basketball board of directors chair and a retired general. “In making this announcement, I also want to emphasize how much everyone associated with USA Basketball appreciates Jerry Colangelo for everything he did for USA Basketball over the past 15 years.”

And Colangelo did plenty.

The managing director role was created for him in 2005, after the Americans lost three games in the 2004 Athens Olympics and returned with an extremely disappointing bronze medal. Colangelo has since overseen the process of selecting players and coaches, bringing in Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski — who led the U.S. to Olympic golds in 2008, 2012 and 2016 — and now San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich to serve as head coaches.

In major competitions with Colangelo as managing director, the U.S. men have gone 97-4. Colangelo’s departure was not unexpected; the 80-year-old made no secret of his plans to retire after the Tokyo Games, which were delayed one year to this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I intend to spend an incredible amount of time with Jerry, shadow him some this summer, and I think that experience will certainly help as we move forward,” Hill said. “He’s just an invaluable resource and has done a remarkable job, so you can’t help but learn from someone like Jerry.”

No matter what happens in Tokyo, Hill will take over at a hectic time. The delay of these Olympics compresses everything; the next Basketball World Cup is only two years away, and the Paris Games are just three years out.

Hill knows the rest of the world is catching — or has caught — up to USA Basketball. He predicted that would happen in 1996, when he was part of Dream Team II that won the gold in Atlanta, and he isn’t alone in the belief that the game found a new gear internationally because of the success of the first Dream Team four years before that.

Hill was a 19-year-old college sophomore when he was brought in along with Bobby Hurley, Chris Webber and others to scrimmage the U.S. team that featured Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing and more. The college kids won 62-54 in that first scrimmage; debate has raged ever since about whether U.S. coach Chuck Daly threw the game to make a point that no team was unbeatable, but there is no debate about how that day in California helped the NBA stars come together.

“We had a good moment,” Hill said. “That experience — having a chance to practice with, learn from, spend time with arguably the greatest team ever assembled — it wasn’t a formal event with a medal ceremony and the like, but it certainly was a pivotal moment for me and my development and my growth as a player.”

Hill’s job that day was to beat USA Basketball’s best. His job going forward will be to make sure that doesn’t happen.

He’s already starting to plan.

“The brain is working,” Hill said.

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Washington Wizards’ Russell Westbrook has 21 boards, 24 assists vs. Pacers, securing triple-double average for 4th time in career

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WASHINGTON — Russell Westbrook became the only player with multiple 20-assist, 20-rebound games in NBA history — Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player with one — and the surging Washington Wizards moved closer to Indiana in the Eastern Conference playoff standings by beating the Pacers 154-141 on Monday night.

Westbrook had 14 points to go along with his career-high 21 rebounds and career-high-tying 24 assists, his league-leading 32nd triple-double of the season. He has 178 triple-doubles, three short of Oscar Robertson’s record, with seven games remaining for Washington.

Monday’s performance guarantees that Westbrook will average a triple-double in a season for the fourth time in his career; Robertson is the only other player to do this, and he did it once in 1961-62.

“Point guards don’t do what he does. He’s not normal, they’re not built that way,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. “There may be someone that probably shoots better. There might be someone that probably can do certain things better — but there’s nobody in the history of the game that can do what he does throughout the stat sheet.

“I used to always say he’s going to probably go down as the third-best point guard ever, but I think he’s passed one. He’s going to go down as probably the second-best, and (No. 1) is obviously Magic. He’s underappreciated. What he does, there are no point guards ever done it, nobody.”

Rui Hachimura scored 27 points and Bradley Beal had 26 as Washington scored a season-high 154 and moved within one-half game of Indiana for ninth place in the East. Teams that finish between seventh and 10th will enter the league’s new play-in tournament for the main playoff draw.

The Wizards earned the tiebreaker over the Pacers by winning the first two meetings. The teams meet one more time this season at Indiana on Saturday.

Washington finished the first half with a 20-8 run over the final 4:15 to take an 82-66 lead at the break. Westbrook had three of his 11 second-quarter assists during that stretch. It was Washington’s highest scoring first half of the season.

“Each night I try to figure out ways to be able to impact and pick up my team … it was one of those nights where certain things are rolling,” Westbrook said. “Guys are rolling, and my job is a bit of fun and as a point guard … you got to be able to make somebody around you better. And I feel like I take a lot of pride in the effort, the energy, and time, and watching film, and to be able to make others around me better. That’s that.”

Westbrook had 14 assists and 12 rebounds at the half while taking just three shots.

“He’s an MVP winner every night on the floor and off the floor, but if he was selfish he could shoot at a 20-20-20 game, but he was very comfortable only shooting three shots at halftime,” Brooks said. “Not a lot of star players in this league are comfortable only taking three shots at halftime.”

Westbrook’s layup with 10:23 left in the third clinched his triple-double. His 32 are the fourth most in any NBA season; he holds the record with 42.

ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Carmelo Anthony of Portland Trail Blazers moves into 10th place all time in NBA scoring

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On an and-1 3-pointer, the Portland Trail BlazersCarmelo Anthony moved into the top 10 all time in NBA scoring Monday night, passing Elvin Hayes.

With 11:09 left in the second quarter against the Hawks in Atlanta, Anthony isolated on the right wing and pulled up from 3, plus the foul. After his trademark move of hitting the side of his head with three fingers, Anthony raised both arms in the air as a quick acknowledgement of the accomplishment.

It was his third 3 of the first half, giving him 12 points. Anthony entered Monday’s game against the Hawks nine points behind Hayes’ career total of 27,313.

“I think after it’s done, whenever it happens, I think I’ll be more in awe of it,” Anthony told ESPN by phone last week. “This is something I never, ever thought about. When you’re young you look up at that list and you’re like, ‘Damn, so-and-so has that many points? I’ll never be able to do that.'” I’m more just in awe of it.”

Moses Malone is next up on the all-time list at 27,409, a reachable number this season if Anthony maintains his current scoring pace.

Anthony’s journey to the top 10 comes with context, with him away from the NBA for a season after being cut by the Houston Rockets after just 10 games early in the 2018-19 season. Anthony continued working out and signed with the Trail Blazers in November 2019, starting all 58 games last season. He agreed to a bench role this season with Portland and entered Monday averaging 13.6 points as a sixth man.

A 10-time All-Star, Anthony is in his 18th NBA season. He won the scoring title with the New York Knicks in 2012-13, averaging 28.7 points. Anthony spent 10 consecutive seasons in the top 10 in scoring and finished as a runner-up for the scoring title twice in that stretch.

Anthony’s point distribution is 13,970 in eight seasons with the Denver Nuggets, 10,186 in seven seasons with the Knicks, 1261 in one season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, 134 with the Rockets and 1740 (entering Monday) in two seasons with the Blazers.

This season, Anthony has moved past Tim Duncan, Dominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson and Hakeem Olajuwon in scoring.

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Tornado warning forces Portland Trail Blazers to evacuate their Atlanta hotel rooms

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ATLANTA — The Portland Trail Blazers got a bit of a scare before their game against the Atlanta Hawks when a tornado warning forced them to evacuate their hotel rooms.

The warning was issued Monday morning, about seven hours after the Trail Blazers arrived at their hotel a couple of miles north of State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. The team had traveled in the early morning hours after a victory Sunday night at Boston.

Coach Terry Stotts said his players and staff were told to go to a lower-level parking garage, where they remained for about 30 minutes.

“I know tornadoes can do anything,” Stotts said. “You have to take the right precautions. The hotel staff was very organized and got everyone down there. We hung out there for about a half-hour, then we went back to our rooms.”

Severe storms moved across the South, spawning multiple tornadoes, damaging homes and uprooting trees from Mississippi to Kentucky. A tornado spotted in Atlanta forced thousands to seek shelter, and one man was killed west of the city when a falling tree brought down power lines onto his vehicle.

Asked if the severe weather disrupted any preparations for his team, Stotts said, “We didn’t get into our rooms until 3:30 in the morning. I’m sure there were some people sleeping and it disrupted their sleep. Hopefully they were able to make it up in the afternoon.”

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