Team USA perfect through qualifying behind Durant, Carmelo


Team USA perfect through qualifying behind Durant, Carmelo

As expected, the United States men's basketball team had a relatively easy time in the qualifying stages of the 2012 Olympic Games, winning all five games and earning the No. 1 seed from Group A.
The United States, led by Kevin Durant's 18.6 points per game, won their five games by an average of 38.2 points. The closest an opponent got to taking down the top-ranked team in the world was Lithuania, who led in the fourth quarter before falling 99-94 to the Americans.
Durant has picked up right where he left off after leading the NBA in scoring last year. He has made a ridiculous 20-of-33 3-pointers, 15-of-17 free throws and is still second on the team in rebounding and fourth in assists. His nine steals are second only to Chris Paul (11). Though LeBron James and Kobe Bryant took most of the pre-Olympic headlines, Durant has been the team's MVP through five games.
And for all the discussion that made those headlines, about whether the 2012 team could defeat the 1992 Dream Team, this year's team had an "Angola-like" performance of their own, defeating Nigeria 156-73 last week. The 156 points and 83-point winning margin were both Olympic records, as were the Americans' 3-pointers (26) field goals (59) and field goal percentage (71 percent).
Team USA's most impressive single-game performance also came against Nigeria, as Carmelo Anthony, America's second leading scorer during qualifying at 17.4 points, poured in 37 points in just 14 minutes in the blowout. He made 10-of-12 3-pointers in the record-setting performance.
LeBron James has played facilitator for much of the first five games, averaging 4.4 assists per game thus far. But he has also shown the ability to take over games down the stretch, specifically when he scored nine points in the final four minutes against Lithuania.
And for all the talk of whether the Americans could shoot from outside and rebound, Team USA silenced those critics. The Americans shot a blistering 47 percent from beyond the arc and lead all teams with 44.4 rebounds per game. They also had a rebounding margin of 8.8.
Perhaps the biggest surprise through five qualifying games has been Kevin Love. The 6-foot-11 big man was one of the last players to make the team, but finished third on the team in scoring (13.0 points), led the team in rebounding (6.4) and was tied for third in 3-point makes (8) in qualifying play.
Even 19-year-old Anthony Davis has looked the part in London, shooting 11-of-14 from the floor and averaging 3.5 rebounds per game in 11.3 minutes.
A surprise in the wrong direction has been Kobe Bryant. After the five-time NBA champion averaged 15.0 points in Beijing in 2008, Bryant has averaged just 9.4 points on a team-worst 38.9 percent from the field.
Team USA will play Australia on Wednesday and, if they win, will play the winner of Brazil and Argentina. Spain is on the other side of the bracket and is considered the odds-on favorite to play USA in the gold medal game.

Still in search of guard depth, Bulls reportedly 'planning to sign' Shaquille Harrison

Still in search of guard depth, Bulls reportedly 'planning to sign' Shaquille Harrison

The Bulls are still scrambling to add depth at point guard and found another body to throw in the rotation.

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, the Bulls "are planning to sign" Shaquille Harrison. Harrison was waived by the Suns on Monday.

In order to complete the move, the Bulls are reportedly waiving center Omer Asik.

Harrison went undrafted out of Tulsa in 2016. The Suns signed him and sent him to the then NBA D-League. Last season, the 25-year-old from Kansas City played in 23 games and made two starts in the NBA. He averaged 6.6 points and 2.4 assists in 16.7 minutes per game.

The Suns signed Jamal Crawford earlier this week and waived Harrison. The Bulls apparently have swooped in.

This move comes just six days after the Bulls added Tyler Ulis, who was also waived by the Suns. Ulis didn't play in the season-opening loss at Philadelphia.

Kris Dunn will miss his second straight game Saturday against the Pistons. His absence against the Sixers showed the lack of depth at guard for the Bulls. Cam Payne started at point guard and split minutes with Ryan Arcidiacono. Payne went 0-for-4 in 21 minutes and led coach Fred Hoiberg to say potential lineup changes are "still up in the air."

Harrison can now join Payne, Arcidiacono and Ulis in a battle for backup minutes at point guard when Dunn returns to the lineup.

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.