By BRIAN MAHONEY LONDON (AP) -- As the shot fell through the net, Kobe Bryant held up three fingers on each hand. It was his third straight 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, enough for the U.S. men's Olympic team to finally put away stubborn Australia. Yes, all's fine with Bryant, and the Americans' gold medal hopes, as well. Bryant silenced his critics and broke open a tight game with six 3-pointers in the second half Wednesday night as the U.S. advanced to the semifinals of the London Games with a 119-86 victory over Australia. "Somebody made him mad. I could see it in his eyes," American Kevin Durant said. "I wanted him to kind of turn it on and that's what he did." On a night when LeBron James had the first Olympic triple-double by a U.S. player, the story was Bryant's awakening from his Olympic slumber. The five-time NBA champion has even said this team could have beaten the Dream Team, and on the 20th anniversary of that squad's gold-medal win, he put on the kind of show that makes his claim hard to dismiss. Bryant scored all of his 20 points after halftime, finally delivering the kind of game expected of him in London. He had insisted his time would come, and none of his teammates ever doubted it. "I kind of knew what button to push with him. I was talking to him at halftime and in the third quarter and I guess I pushed the button. He woke up and to see that, I've been on the other side of the ball and had that situation before," teammate Carmelo Anthony said. Bryant, a top-five scorer in NBA history, brushed away Anthony's attempts to take credit as easily as the questions he's been hearing in London. "He was just saying, 'Let's see what we see during the season.' But by that point, I was already revved up," Bryant said. James had 11 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists for the Americans, who advanced to their third straight Olympic semifinal meeting with Argentina, which beat Brazil earlier Wednesday. Deron Williams added 18 points, Anthony had 17 and Durant 14. The Americans beat the Argentines 126-97 on Monday in the final game of pool play, yet another night they didn't need much from Bryant, who came in averaging just 9.4 points and hearing whispers that something must be wrong with him, though both he and his teammates kept assuring people there was no problem. This time was different -- eventually -- after Bryant misfired on all four shots in the first half. "Just kind of searching for something to get me going, for something that would activate the Black Mamba, as Coach calls it," Bryant said. That came when Australia scored the first 11 points of the second half, cutting the Americans' lead to three after back-to-back 3-pointers by Joe Ingles. The U.S. lead was only six before Bryant, who had never gotten in an offensive rhythm in London and just minutes earlier had committed another puzzling offensive foul, finally broke out. He made a 3-pointer, then batted away a pass, chased it down along the left sideline and pulled up for another 3 that made it 70-58. James followed with a basket that pushed it to 14, and the Americans never let the Australians get much closer. Bryant made sure of it. He finished 6 of 10 behind the arc, making three straight in the fourth quarter as part of a 17-2 run to blow it open, the crowd chanting "Kobe! Kobe!" before he finally missed on a ridiculously long attempt before calling it a night. Patty Mills scored 26 points and Ingles had 19 for Australia, which had the misfortune of running into the U.S. in the quarterfinals for the second straight Olympics. "The difference in the game was their transition buckets and 3-pointers, and Kobe got a little bit sniff," Mills said. "And for great teams, that's all they need and they stretch it out." Even the Australian fans were cheering for Bryant as he walked to the locker room after a postgame interview. First, he knocked fists with the Aussies' kangaroo mascot, wearing boxing gloves on his hands. Bryant sure knocked out the Australians. Bodies fell and blood flowed in a physical first half, the Americans taking plenty of hits but delivering them as well, such as the one that sent Australia's David Barlow to the bench with a bloody nose that took a while to control. But the spirited play brought out the best in Bryant, who insists he's content taking a lesser role with other, much younger scorers such as James, Durant and Anthony willing to carry the load. He said the same things in Beijing and came through with 20 points in the gold-medal game, so the Americans know they can count on him to rise to a challenge. They expect another one from Argentina, which beat the U.S. in 2004 on its way to the gold medal, a loss the Americans avenged before winning gold in Beijing. Russia plays Spain in the other semifinal. The crowd on the first night of action at the North Greenwich Arena included NBA Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, who have said they may prefer the Olympics be limited to players 23 and younger in the future. First, they saw why fans want to keep seeing America's best -- and what everyone expected from Bryant all along. "You see it all the time, but that was the first time we've seen it here," Durant said. "He got so upset and when he does that he's in another world."
The city of Washington, where he grew up near and was a star in college at Georgetown University, isn't the only factor that makes joining the Wizards familiar for Jeff Green. He is also reuniting with his former coach, Scott Brooks, who now leads the Wizards.
Long ago, Brooks was cutting his teeth on the sidelines while Green was finding his way on the court. When Green was a rookie on the Seattle Supersonics in 2007, Brooks was a 42-year-old assistant coach. The team moved to Oklahoma City the following year and by late November of 2008, Brooks was the head coach after P.J. Carlesimo was fired.
Brooks helped oversee Green's first four seasons as an NBA player and Green remembers those days well.
"He looked way better than he does now," Green joked.
Brooks, now 53, has a knack for taking playful shots at those he works with, whether that be players, fellow coaches or the media. Green is clearly on that level and feels comfortable ribbing his head coach, knowing he can both dish it out and take it.
All jokes aside, Green is still appreciative of the tutelage he received from Brooks back in the day.
"Scotty was my No. 1 guy, he’s always been, but when I first stepped foot on an NBA floor, he was there for me. He was a coach with Seattle when I first got into the league," Green said.
The NBA has taken Brooks and Green to very different places in the seven years since they split ways. Green left for the Celtics and has since played for the Grizzlies, Clippers, Magic and most recently the Cavaliers. Brooks stuck around with OKC through the 2014-15 season before he was let go. After taking a year off, he joined the Wizards.
Much has changed in Brooks and Green's lives. They have lost and gained jobs. Their families have grown. Now, they are back on the same team and Green is excited about it.
"We’ve been close and tight ever since. We never lost contact. So, I’m looking forward to being coached by him again. I know he’s going to put us all in great positions to succeed. We just have to do our part on the floor," Green said.
Green spoke with Brooks on the phone before deciding to sign with the Wizards as a free agent in July. His presence was one of the many reasons he felt Washington was a good fit.
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Bovada's 2018-19 NBA MVP odds were released, and there's a few head-scratchers on the list.
First, let's keep in mind that these odds are to get you to place a bet more than anything. They want you to see something, and tempt you to throw your money at it.
That being said, John Wall comes in tied for 14th, while Bradley Beal doesn't show up on the list.
Now, let's look at who else was on the list over Beal.
Lonzo Ball has 100/1 odds to win MVP, DeMarcus Cousins who is still recovering from a torn Achilles, and Kristaps Porzingis, recovering from a torn ACL also appear over Beal.
Just thinking out loud here, but that seems like maybe a bit of a stretch right?
Porzingis may not play at all for the Knicks this coming season, and Cousins is expected to miss months before making his debut in Golden State.
Cousins also plays on a team with Steph Curry (15/1) and Kevin Durant (9/1).
Also missing from the odds was Klay Thompson. So, yeah.
New Raptor Kawhi Leonard also comes in at 11/1.
2018-2019 - NBA MVP - Odds to Win
LeBron James 10/3
Anthony Davis 4/1
Giannis Antetokounmpo 9/2
James Harden 11/2
Kevin Durant 9/1
Kawhi Leonard 11/1
Russell Westbrook 14/1
Stephen Curry 15/1
Joel Embiid 16/1
Kyrie Irving 16/1
Ben Simmons 35/1
Damian Lillard 45/1
Karl-Anthony Towns 50/1
DeMar DeRozan 80/1
John Wall 80/1
Donovan Mitchell 85/1
Jimmy Butler 100/1
Nikola Jokic 100/1
Victor Oladipo 100/1
Chris Paul 100/1
LaMarcus Aldridge 125/1
Paul George 125/1
DeMarcus Cousins 150/1
Gordon Hayward 150/1
Jayson Tatum 175/1
Blake Griffin 225/1
Devin Booker 275/1
Kristaps Porzingis 275/1
Kyle Lowry 325/1
Lonzo Ball 450/1
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