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Heavy gold medal favorite USA continues Olympic hoops tourney vs. Australia

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Following two lopsided wins, Team USA could encounter something resembling resistance when they play Australia for top spot in Group A in Olympic men’s basketball on Wednesday.

Team USA, led by the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant, has had no problem winning their first two games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by an average of 50.5 points. On the Olympic men’s basketball gold medal board at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, the Americans’ odds have come down to -2000 (wager $2000 to win $100).

Coming into the tournament, one concern from Team USA was a lack of three-point shooters. To wit, they shot only 38.8 percent on threes during their top lopsided wins. Durant, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Jimmy Butler have thrived at attacking the basket, and their depth should almost certainly win the day.

However, Team USA is facing a 2-0 Australian team that is limiting opponents to 40 percent shooting and includes post defenders from the NBA in recent Dallas Mavericks acquisition Andrew Bogut and Detroit Pistons C Aron Baynes.

Still, the Americans are heavy 29-point betting chalk on the Rio Olympics odds for the game.

One element the Americans are hoping to develop during the tournament is their contributions from the guards. The likes of DeMar DeRozan, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson have taken a back seat to the forwards.

Australia came into the Olympics under the radar, but have won decisively against opponents from the deep FIBA Europe region, dispatching France (87-66) and Serbia (95-80). Matthew Dellavedova, who was with the Cleveland Cavaliers during their NBA title run, is averaging 11.5 assists, while the San Antonio Spurs’ Patty Mills is first in scoring at 23.5 points.

Team USA, through pre-Olympic play and the first two games in Rio, has stuck to pushing up the pace in order to wear out opponents with shorter benches. That increases the possibility of the total going over at the sportsbooks.

The nature of the FIBA game, where referees tolerate more physical play, also makes it difficult for an underdog to control the tempo. If both teams get into a good run of perimeter shooting, it could be a high-scoring contest.

The Americans’ next action is against Serbia on Friday, and it will conclude group play against France on Sunday. The gold medal game is on August 21.

Derek Fisher hired to coach WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks

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LOS ANGELES — Former NBA player and coach Derek Fisher has been hired to coach the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

The Sparks announced the move Wednesday, five says after longtime WNBA coach Brian Agler resigned.

Fisher helped the Los Angeles Lakers win five NBA titles during his 18-season playing career and served as president of the players’ union. He coached the New York Knicks from 2014-2016.

“I’m excited to be the new head coach of the LA Sparks,” Fisher said in a team statement. “There is no finer organization in the WNBA and I can’t wait to work with our ownership group, front office, talented players and staff to cement a culture of sustained excellence, which is what LA basketball fans demand – and deserve.”

The 44-year-old Fisher is the 12th coach in Sparks history.

“Derek is a great basketball mind who brings a ton of high-level experience to our team,” two-time MLP Candace Parker said. “I look forward to working with someone with championship pedigree and who has a track record of strong leadership. Derek has been a strong supporter of women’s basketball for quite some time, so it’s nice to officially welcome him.”

WNBA President Lisa Borders stepping down

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NEW YORK – WNBA President Lisa Borders is stepping down.

The league announced Tuesday she will become the first president and CEO of Time’s Up – an organization dedicated to safe, fair and dignified work for women. Borders says it was fully her decision to leave.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum will oversee the WNBA on an interim basis while a search for a successor begins,

Borders joined the league in 2016. She helped the WNBA grow in areas such as live streaming of games on Twitter and the availability of one-day daily fantasy.

Borders is the third executive to leave the league in the last six months. The league is coming off a season in which it had its highest TV ratings in four years. It begins its 23rd season next year.