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 ze during the game that the fans were chantin

RIO DE JANEIRO -- It didnt feel like a 12-alarm fire when word got out that Sue Bird wasnt going to play. The U.S. Olympic womens basketball team is too dominant for that. It was more like the basketball equivalent of having a rock in your shoe, or having a painting thats hung crooked on the wall. Something just didnt feel right Thursday night in their semifinal game against France. Something was just ... off.Bird always says shes not the fastest or highest-flying talent in womens basketball. But when youve been the point guard for the U.S. national team dating back 16 years, running the show at every major international competition since 2002, and the team has not lost an Olympic game in all that time, its not surprising that the sight of Bird on Thursday would be disorienting for the U.S. The sight of Bird walking out in her navy team warm-up suit unable to play in the American teams semifinal against France because of a sprained right knee capsule might have even felt like an unprecedented opportunity for France, which had five or six players and coaches standing and watching the U.S. layup line before the game as if they couldnt believe their luck.I didnt know she wasnt going to play, said French forward Sandrine Gruda. Even at halftime we were saying, Believe. Believe. Believe.Asked the last time she missed an Olympic contest, Birds eyes opened wide and she laughed and said, Never.Until Thursday, the 35-year-old had played 28 of the last 30 Olympic games for the U.S. team stretching back to 2004. She did not play in the semifinal and gold-medal games in Athens in 2004.While the Americans looked discombobulated early on without her -- France trailed only 40-34 at the half -- they eventually overcame Birds absence like theyve overcome everything else in this tournament, relying on their experience and depth of talent to run away to a gratifying 86-67 win, their smallest margin of victory in the tournament. A 25-8 run in the third quarter put France away to stay.The American team now goes into its sixth-straight Olympic final Saturday, this time opposite Spain, a team it beat by 40 points in pool play earlier in these Games.Whether Bird plays or not, it would be an epic upset if the U.S. loses this gold medal or its 48-game Olympic winning streak now. Bird said her plan is to try to practice Friday, and see how she feels. Head coach Geno Auriemma says it will be her call whether to play or sit.To be honest, yesterday I didnt feel amazing, but I woke up today feeling better, and Im just hoping for the best tomorrow, said Bird, who has had five previous surgeries on her left knee but no issues with her right knee until now. Im not going to be stupid about this. Its your body. You dont want to put it in danger. But if I can play, Im definitely playing.Lindsay Whalen, a 32-year-old veteran, is the only other true point guard on the U.S. roster. But Auriemma said the upside of having already played one game without Bird is the U.S. wont have to spend a half working the kinks out of their offense in the gold-medal game like they did on this night. Auriemma filled Birds spot in the starting lineup by moving Seimone Augustus into the backcourt opposite Diana?Taurasi, and asking Taurasi to be a bit more of a ball handler and passer even though, Thats really not her role.Taurasi is used to filling in. Even if she prefers to have Bird on the court.When Sues out, you forget how much she does for this team, she said. We have so many scorers, and she finds a way to get everyone in their spots, to get everyone touches, and she sacrifices her own offense for that ... I think we figured it out in the second half. But it was still hard.Taurasi still led the U.S. with 18 points. And Bird was predictably uneasy having to endure watching the game. During pregame warm-ups, she made a few passes to teammates in the layup line, and the other U.S. players said she was vocal in the locker room at halftime, too, reminding them of little details, telling them not to worry that their four-point margin was so slim. Stay calm. When the U.S. went back on the court and the five players who were going to start the second half huddled by the U.S. bench for one last quick talk, all of a sudden a sixth -- Bird -- stuck her head in and started giving instructions, sending them out with a pep talk.What was watching like? Now? Not so hard. During the game, very hard, Bird laughed. We were a little out of sorts, and I feel I can help in that department. But honestly, they did a great job. Its not easy. A semifinal game -- I dont care who youre playing against -- its the hardest game because you lose that and you get nothing. Or, I mean, you can only maybe get bronze. So its really difficult. And Im really proud of them.It was yet another measure of the top-to-bottom skill of the U.S. team. But Auriemma said he doesnt want to hear remarks like, What time is the gold medal ceremony? as if Saturdays win is a given.Its not like that, he insisted.But no one believes him. Bird is one of the winningest players in basketball history. With her or without her, the U.S. women just keep rolling on. Cheap NFL Black Jerseys . Louis Blues teammates who would also be participating in the Olympics, Alex Pietrangelo felt right at home, no different in some ways to the travel experience of any old road trip – save for the length of the journey, that is. Wholesale Jerseys . Barcelonas entertaining victory ensured the defending Spanish champions retained their share of the league lead with Atletico Madrid two rounds ahead of their meeting in the capital. Real Madrid needed a late goal by substitute Jese Rodriguez to earn a 3-2 victory at Valencia to stay in third place and three points behind its title rivals. . MORITZ, Switzerland -- Fog prevented downhill racers from getting their Olympic dress rehearsal. China Jerseys Cheap . -- If Henry Burris has his way, he will be the starting quarterback to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats back to the Grey Cup next year. NFL Jerseys China . Emery skated the length of the ice and fought an unwilling Holtby during the third period of the Flyers 7-0 loss Friday night in Philadelphia. He was given 29 penalty minutes, including a game misconduct. But Emery did not face even a disciplinary hearing with NHL senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan because rules 46. BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil -- Hope Solo wasnt bothered by the chanting.The veteran USA goalie was teased by fans chanting Zika, Zika at her as the U.S. womens soccer team defeated New Zealand in its Olympic debut on Wednesday.The crowd of nearly 10,000 fans at the 60,000-capacity Mineirao Stadium jeered the goalkeeper with references to the virus that has scared many athletes ahead of the Rio Games.Im glad the fans had fun, Solo said. And if they had fun at my expense, more power to them.Solo upset some Brazilians before coming to the Olympics by tweeting a photo of herself wearing a hat with mosquito netting. She also posted a photo of dozens of packs of mosquito repellent that she was packing for her trip to Brazil.She made amends a few days before the games, blaming the American media for spreading fear about Zika and other problems ahead of the Rio Games. She said the media was being really tough on people of Brazil.ddddddddddddThe veteran goalkeeper said she didnt realize during the game that the fans were chanting Zika, and thought they were only yelling a common slur that local clubs sometimes use against goalkeepers at goal kicks.Some of the fans were indeed yelling the slur early in the game, but later the majority of the crowd started with the Zika chant, which was also repeated after the final whistle.Thats something hopefully they will put behind them and realize that Hope has apologized to the Brazilian people, U.S. coach Jill Ellis said of the fans. Sometimes mistakes are made. We are used to getting booed in other countries, so that part of it is not foreign. I hope the Brazilian people appreciate what we are trying to do with the ball and move past that. Cheap Jerseys 2019 Cheap NFL T-shirts Youth NFL Jerseys Wholesale Stitched Jerseys Discount NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Online Cheap Stitched Jerseys Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping Wholesale Jerseys 2020 Discount NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Jerseys NFL Cheap Wholesale NFL Autographed Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping ' ' '

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