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Los Angeles Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope day-to-day with mild left knee contusion



LOS ANGELES — A day after Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s bruised left quad forced him out of Game 3 of L.A.’s first-round playoff series with the Phoenix Suns, the injury showed slight improvement and an MRI administered on Friday revealed no tear and no structural damage in the left knee, sources told ESPN.

He is day-to-day with what the Lakers called Friday a mild left knee contusion.

Caldwell-Pope exited the Lakers’ 109-95 win on Thursday with 4 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the third quarter after Suns guard Devin Booker backed into him while dribbling, making contact with the shooting guard’s leg and causing him to fall to the floor.

“I immediately felt pain when he bumped me, and it hyperextended,” Caldwell-Pope said afterward. “And it was painful enough where I couldn’t finish the game.”

Caldwell-Pope will see how his leg responds to rest and treatment on Saturday and then a determination will be made as to his status for Sunday’s Game 4 (3:30 ET, ABC), sources told ESPN.

Caldwell-Pope finished with five points, four rebounds and two steals on Thursday. For the series, he is averaging just 4 points on 22.2% shooting (8% from 3), 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, significantly down from his season scoring averages of 9.7 points on 43.1% from the field and 41% from the outside.

Late in Game 2, with Caldwell-Pope shooting 0-for-4 for the night, game broadcast cameras showed LeBron James standing face-to-face with Caldwell-Pope, imploring him to keep shooting when he is open.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said that while L.A. values Caldwell-Pope’s long-range abilities, his defensive activity on Booker is of the utmost importance in the series.

“His primary role is to defend and to run the floor and provide that spacing when double-teams come, and some nights there’s going to be a lot of shots, some nights there’s not,” Vogel said. “But we just want him to remain confident, which he does.”

After scoring 65 points through the first two games of the series, Booker was kept in check in Game 3, totaling 19 points on 6-for-19 shooting and four turnovers before being ejected in the final minute for a flagrant foul 2 on Dennis Schroder.

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France survives Luka Doncic triple-double, to face Team USA for gold medal



SAITAMA, Japan — Game on the line, chance for gold on the line, and Slovenia’s Klemen Prepelic thought he had a layup that would have given Slovenia the win.

France’s Nicolas Batum thought differently.

Batum reached over Prepelic to block the layup try with 2.4 seconds left, the final play in France’s 90-89 win over Slovenia in a men’s basketball semifinal at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday night — overcoming a historic night from Luka Doncic.

Doncic had the third triple-double in Olympic men’s history: 16 points, 10 rebounds and 18 assists. But it wasn’t quite enough, and Slovenia fell to 17-1 all-time when Doncic is in the national team colors.

He may be good as gold one day, but not yet. France will play the United States on Saturday (11:30 a.m. local time in Japan, 10:30 p.m. ET Friday) to decide the gold medal at the Tokyo Games. France has been this far at an Olympics only once, losing to the Americans in the title game at the 2000 Sydney Games.

France has won the past two meetings with the U.S., first in the quarterfinals at the Basketball World Cup in 2019, then to open group play in Tokyo.

Nando de Colo had 25 points for France, Evan Fournier scored 23, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot added 15 for the winners — now the last unbeaten team left in the men’s tournament at 5-0. Rudy Gobert had nine points, 16 rebounds and four blocks for France, and Batum blocked four shots, none bigger than the one at the end.

Mike Tobey scored 23 for Slovenia, which got 17 from Prepelic.

France trailed by eight in the first half then went up by 10 late in the third before needing to survive a wild fourth quarter. Slovenia tied the game twice in the final period, both times on baskets inside by Tobey, but never took the lead.

Luwawu-Cabarrot took a kickout pass from Gobert with 56.1 seconds left and made a wide-open 3-pointer to put France up 90-85. A free throw got Slovenia within four, then Fournier fouled out on an offensive foul while dribbling upcourt on the next France possession.

Slovenia had life.

Prepelic took a pass from Doncic on the ensuing possession and hit a 3-pointer to get Slovenia within one. Then it came down to the last shot, which Batum knocked away as Slovenia argued for a foul to no avail.

Doncic had flirted with triple-doubles twice already at these Olympics, finally getting this one on a rebound that set up the final Slovenia possession. The other triple-doubles in Olympic men’s play: Alexander Belov for the Soviet Union in 1976 and LeBron James for the U.S. in 2012.

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Julius Randle agrees to 4-year, $117 million extension with New York Knicks



New York Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle has agreed to a four-year, $117 million contract extension — elevating his deal’s total value to five years and $140 million, his agents Aaron Mintz and Steven Heumann of CAA Sports told ESPN.

The extension includes a player option on the final season in 2025-2026.

Randle had a remarkable, breakthrough season for the Knicks, earning the NBA’s Most Improved Player award and second-team All-NBA honors on his way to leading the franchise back to the playoffs with a fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Randle could’ve waited for his contract to expire next season and signed a new $200 million deal, but extending now off his current $19.8 million salary for 2021-2022 gives the Knicks financial flexibility to shape the roster and allows him to commit through his prime to a franchise and city he has come to adore — and has come to adore him.

Randle, 26, flourished under the NBA’s Coach of the Year, Tom Thibodeau, averaging 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Randle helped return the Knicks to the postseason and became something of a New York basketball cult hero for playing such a significant role in the Knicks revitalization.

Randle arrived to the Knicks on a three-year free agent deal in 2018 after two seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans, and four with the Los Angeles Lakers. Randle was the No. 7 overall pick out of Kentucky in the 2014 NBA draft.

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Kevin Durant, Jrue Holiday rally Team USA past Australia, to Olympic men’s basketball gold-medal game



SAITAMA, Japan — When Team USA started feeling that historic heat, the creeping grip of an unshakable loss, they went to the men with the rings.

Kevin Durant and Jrue Holiday, NBA champions, showed the kind of skill and poise that is absolutely vital in high-level basketball.

Durant and Holiday didn’t just break Australia’s spirit in the Olympic semifinals, they lifted their entire team up around them in a brilliant performance that led to a 97-78 victory. It means a berth in Saturday’s gold-medal game as the Americans will go for their fourth in a row.

Australia had prepared for this game for a long time and came out with a smart game plan, crisp execution and tight focus. The Australians showed Team USA some defensive looks they’d clearly saved, unveiling double teams and speed rotations that got the Americans on their heels.

This game meant everything for the Boomers, who were in their fifth Olympic semifinals and looking for their first win. They have seven players with NBA experience, led by Patty Mills, one of the greatest scorers in Olympic history, playing in a game that would have earned them respect amongst their peers and their countrymen for the rest of their lives.

With that as the backdrop, they played like it and methodically built a 15-point first half lead. This has turning into a calling card for this version of Team USA, which tends to start games with choppy execution and poor shooting.

It was dangerous to dig a hole under these circumstances but, bottom line, the Americans had Durant, who had 23 points and wasn’t needed in the fourth quarter, and the Aussies didn’t.

With the offense sputtering and the 3-point shooting, the heart of Team USA’s offense that was absent as they missed their first 10 3s, totally failing, Durant put his head down and went to work. He grinded his way to seven first-half baskets. Holiday was his partner, putting together six first-half assists while being the lead defender on Mills.

The U.S. closed the first half on an 8-0 run as Australia started to waver as the lead with cut down to just three. This was a vital moment, especially because the Americans have shown an ability to be a great third-quarter team.

When the second half started, Durant and Holiday took the game by its neck and put it down. Holiday, who had 11 points, made two baskets and Durant made three out of the gates, two of them 3-pointers. It was a 12-0 run that made it 20-0 when attached to the end of the second quarter.

It was helped by strong defense led by Holiday and Durant challenging shots and backed but big men Bam Adebayo and Draymond Green, whose versatility came through. After starting 13-of-26 shooting, the Australians were clearly shaken by the Americans going on the run and started missing even the easiest of shots as they went 3-of-16.

Durant and Holiday’s confidence was infections, particularly to Devin Booker. With the Aussies desperate to stop Durant, Holiday started looking for Booker. He nailed two 3-pointers and scored 10 of his 20 points in a third-quarter kick that turned the game into a rout. Mills ended up with 15 but most of them after the game was already decided.

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