U.S. men’s basketball team rebounds, beats Argentina

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USA Basketball finally made it look easy again.

Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal each scored 17 points and the Americans took control from the outset, beating Argentina 108-80 in Las Vegas on Tuesday to avoid what would have been the first three-game losing streak in this era of NBA players being able to represent USA Basketball on the international stage.

Zach LaVine scored 15 points for the U.S., which lost its first two games in Las Vegas to Nigeria and Australia. The Americans shot 51%, scored 33 first-quarter points to get off and running and beat Argentina for the 10th consecutive time since a loss at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

“It was better,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. “Bit by bit, every day, I hope.”

Damian Lillard scored 13 points and Bam Adebayo finished with 12 points, five assists and five rebounds for the U.S.

“Just really locked in,” Adebayo said.

Luis Scola, set to play in the Olympics for a fifth time, scored 16 points in 19 minutes for Argentina. Nicolas Laprovittola scored 13, Facundo Campazzo had 12 and Gabriel Deck added 10.

“It’s not a big deal,” Argentina’s Luca Vildoza said. “It’s only a loss.”

The U.S. played with only eight members of the Olympic team. Jayson Tatum was held out with right knee soreness and will be day-to-day going forward, USA Basketball said. The Americans also will be without Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker until at least this weekend because of the NBA Finals.

The back-to-back losses to start the U.S. team’s stay in Las Vegas raised the possibility that the Americans might lose three in a row with NBA players for the first time.

If those thoughts truly existed, they didn’t last for long.

“Our biggest thing is we have to realize it’s not the NBA and Coach Pop keeps re-emphasizing that every single day,” Beal said. “It’s way more physical. Guys are smarter. These guys have been playing together for five-, 10-plus years. So they have the experience and the chemistry and we’re trying to develop that in a short period of time.”

It was 15-4 USA before the game was even 3 1/2 minutes old, the lead was as much as 17 later in the opening quarter — the biggest leads for the Americans in the first two games were 10 against Nigeria and 11 against Australia — and the outcome was never really in doubt.

“The USA played great,” Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said. “They played more aggressive defense than they had the last two games.”

The Americans held a 58-42 lead at the half when Durant beat the buzzer with an 18-footer, a shot that Draymond Green was celebrating before the ball even swished through the net.

“We’re not going to make shots all the time,” Durant said in a televised halftime interview. “But if we continue to guard the way we are, it’ll start to turn for us on offense. … When we keep the ball in front and we get stops and rebounds, then we pretty much can play with a clean slate on the offensive side of the ball.”

The U.S. won the rebound battle 40-34, committed only nine turnovers and held Argentina to 31% shooting — 9 for 29 — from 3-point range.

“Today we got better,” Beal said. “Still a lot we can improve on, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona men’s pro race, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Both entered Kailua-Kona, where the races were now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men. Chelsea Sodaro won the women’s race, ending a 20-year American victory drought.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

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