EYES ON LONDON: Lebron's joy, games draw to an end

By The Associated Press

LONDON — Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:

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SPAIN’S SILVER

With scratches on his nose and a nearly blackened right eye, Pau Gasol trudged off the court with a silver medal around his neck. Again.

For the second straight Olympics, Spain took the mighty Americans to the wire before falling just short, 107-100.

Gasol scored 24 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists. But it wasn’t quite enough.

He says he’s proud of his silver, especially knowing what Spain was up against.

“We were close,” he says. “But you almost have to play the perfect game to beat them.”

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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FINAL PREPS

The stage is set and now the finishing touches are being made to the Olympic stadium. The artists are doing their sound checks and the technicians are testing the lighting. The place has been transformed — yet again.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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FIRE: OLYMPICS UNAFFECTED

“We’ve not seen a fire of this size in London for several years. It’s certainly a dramatic end to the Olympics for the London Fire Brigade.” — London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson, on the recycling-center fire seven miles east of Olympic Park that sent a plume of smoke up over the city. There have been no injuries. Adds Dobson: “I would like to reassure people that we are still able to attend incidents across the capital and the fire cover we’re providing at the Olympic venues has not been affected.”

— Raphael Satter — Twitter http://raphae.li/twitter

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QUICKQUOTE: ‘EVERYTHING TO ME’

“It means the world. It means everything to me.” — LeBron James of the United States on winning the gold medal.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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PROPS FOR KRZYZEWSKI

Tweets from John Calipari, Kentucky men’s basketball coach, congratulating Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the U.S. men’s basketball team that just won an Olympic gold medal in London:

“The job that Mike Krzyzewski has done for seven years is truly amazing.”

“The ultimate challenge for coaches is to get the most talented players to come together for the team as we work to improve each individual.”

“Coach K has mastered it, Congrats.”

— Teresa Walker — Twitter http://twitter.com/teresamwalker

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WENLOCK JOINS THE FUN

Has Wenlock actually been an American spy all this time?

One of the mascots for the London Games appeared in the middle of the US men’s basketball team’s gold medal celebration on Sunday.

After LeBron James and the crew sneaked by Spain with a 107-100 victory, James Harden grabbed a blowup Wenlock and brought him to center court to join in the superstar mosh pit.

The Americans danced, hugged and passed Wenlock around as if he were the trophy.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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HIGHLIGHT: STRAITJACKET?

AP’s Gerald Imray, one of dozens of AP reporters who have been covering the London Olympics, offers up some of its more memorable moments.

Usain Bolt’s teammate, Yohan Blake, on Jamaica’s world record in the men’s 4×100 relay:

“We’re not normal. To run 36 (seconds) is not normal. We’re flying. People call us robots. I said, no, we’re from space. We drop from the sky like Mr. Bean. Because when he started, he dropped out of the sky. It’s just the fun stuff, you know, that we always do. I’m from Mars because I’m not normal. I’m the beast.”

Bolt’s retort:

“I’ve told Yohan he needs to stop talking like that, because people are going to put him in a straitjacket.”

—Gerald Imray — Twitter http://twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

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BIG FIRE IN LONDON

It’s not very near the Olympics, but it’s not really too far, either. A fire at a recycling center in east London is raging about seven miles (11 kilometers) from Olympic Park, and it’s the biggest blaze the city has seen in several years.

The London Fire Brigade said that the whole of the single story building is on fire. A plume of smoke can be seen across the British capital.

The recycling center is in Dagenham, east of Olympic Park, where the games’ closing ceremony is being held later Sunday.

No immediate word what caused the fire.

— Raphael Satter — Twitter http://raphae.li/twitter

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US OUTLASTS SPAIN

LeBron James had to take the gold medal from Spain. That’s exactly what he did.

James scored five of his 19 points in less than a minute to help the United States hold off Spain, 107-100. Kevin Durant scored 30 for the US and Pau Gasol led Spain with 24.

This was no waltz to the gold for the heavily favored Americans. It was a bare-knuckle street fight that took everything they had.

And it was just enough.

The US led by one at the start of the fourth and just six with 3:20 to go. James soared for a dunk and then hit a 3-pointer for a nine point lead, and the Americans breathed a sigh of relief — and did a few chest bumps — when it was over.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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‘DOING THE BOLT’

The wax version of Usain Bolt was by far the most popular draw at Madame Tussauds on Sunday.

And here’s how a family of six, after waiting patiently in line, struck the pose that’s become one of the unforgettable images of London 2012: http://pic.twitter.com/teEszind

“He’s the best Olympian ever,” said Michael McGregor, after the family bypassed David Beckham and British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.

“He’s a character — and we love his pose. We really rooted for him. And Jessica Ennis.”

The British runner and gold medalist may have been one of the faces of the games — but there was nobody there waiting to see her figure, draped in the Union Jack.

— Jenna Fryer — Twitter http://twitter.com/jennafryer

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HIGHLIGHT: LONDON ROCKS

AP’s Gerald Imray, one of dozens of AP reporters who have been covering the London Olympics, offers up some of its more memorable moments.

U.S. women’s 4×400 relay gold medalist Dee Dee Trotter on the atmosphere in London:

“London is off the chain. And that’s putting it mildly. I’ve never seen a morning session packed out that way. I have never been in a stadium where the people have every knowledge of what’s going on, on and off the track. They know what is going on. The mall. The Westfield mall. What is that? That is awesome. Was it chaos? Yes. Was it good chaos? Absolutely. ”

—Gerald Imray — Twitter http://twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

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ONE QUARTER TO GO

Pau Gasol is making sure this men’s basketball gold medal game goes down to the wire.

Gasol had 15 of his 23 points in the third quarter to help Spain withstand a surge from Kobe Bryant and the Americans, who lead just 83-82 going into the final quarter.

Spain was just as competitive in Beijing before fading in the final 2 1/2 minutes.

Can they finish the stunning upset this time?

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter

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PISTORIUS TWEETS

Oscar Pistorius just tweeted: “Really feel honoured to be chosen to carry the SA flag in the closing ceremony tonight! What a great ending to the games it’ll be! :)”

Participating nations will parade in the closing ceremony Sunday evening, and each team will field one competitor to carry its flag. The athletes will all walk out together and will not be separated by nation.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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HIGHLIGHT: TRACK TAKES OFF

AP’s Gerald Imray, one of dozens of AP reporters who have been covering the London Olympics, offers up some of its more memorable moments.

London organizer Sebastian Coe on the athletics stadium:

“Over a million of them applied for tickets for the 100-meters final. I knew they were coming, but I think we were all quite shocked when we saw them in there in their numbers on the first morning. That was a glorious scene for anybody that really wants to see our sport shown to best effect. ”

—Gerald Imray — Twitter http://twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

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SPAIN CLOSE AT THE HALF

The gold medal matchup between the United States and Spain has been everything everyone expected, and more.

The Americans lead by just one point, 59-58 at halftime. Kevin Durant has 17 points, but Spain hasn’t flinched at the powerful U.S. team.

Juan Carlos Navarro has been fearless, going right at the Americans and racking up 19 points. Spain is winning the board battle 21-19 but will need to overcome foul trouble to stay in it. Marc Gasol has four fouls, while Sergio Rodriguez and Felipe Reyes each have three.

If the Americans continue to struggle, here’s an idea. Why not call on the Terminator? Arnold Schwarzenegger is in the arena cheering them on — and received a loud ovation when he was shown on the scoreboard.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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MOTIVATING INSULT

U.S. marathoner Meb Keflezighi was motivated by a slight.

Before the Olympic race Sunday, a few of the runners were introduced, but not Keflezighi. He took that as an insult since he won a silver medal in Athens eight years ago. “To not be introduced like that, it hurts,” he says.

Keflezighi, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., took his frustration out on the course as he finished fourth, more than 3 minutes behind Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda.

“Everybody works hard to accomplish such a thing and I am very proud of myself and our country to finish fourth,” he said. “It’s not where you want to be sometimes, but fourth place at my last Olympics? I’ll take it anytime.”

At least he was able to finish. Ryan Hall (right hamstring) and Abdi Abdirahman (right knee) dropped out of the marathon around the 11-mile mark.

“Not finishing a race is not an option unless I think I’m going to do serious damage to my career,” Hall says. “My stride was getting worse and worse … This wasn’t something I could work through.”

— Pat Graham — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/pgraham34

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BLATT’S FUTURE

David Blatt has spearheaded Russia’s basketball renaissance over the past seven years, culminating in the bronze medal on Sunday.

But he’s too tired to think about the future and whether he’ll be back for more in 2016.

First, he intends to catch up on sleep for a couple of weeks “and not think about anything.”

He did say, though, that he’s loved his time in Russia and appreciates the opportunity.

The future? “It’s in my hands.”

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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MARATHON GOLD FOR UGANDA

Uganda has its first medal at the London Olympics — and it’s a big one.

Stephen Kiprotich surged ahead late in the race to win the Olympic men’s marathon. He finished in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 1 second Sunday, holding off the Kenyan duo of Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang. Kirui finished 26 seconds behind Kiprotich, while Kipsang, the leader most of the race, faded late but held on for bronze just ahead of American runner Meb Keflezighi.

On a warm afternoon, the marathoners wound their way through a scenic route packed with swarms of fans.

The Kenyans competed in memory of the late Sammy Wanjiru. Four years ago in Beijing, Wanjiru captured the country’s first Olympic marathon gold. He died last year after a fall from a balcony during a domestic dispute.

— Graham Dunbar — Twitter http://twitter.com/gdunbarap

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GOLDEN GENERATION’S END

Argentina’s loss to Russia in basketball’s bronze-medal game surely signals the end for the “Golden Generation.”

Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni were part of the team that brought Argentina gold in 2004 in Athens, upsetting the United States in the semifinals.

This wraps up a lackluster Olympics for the South Americans, who are already working to be better in Rio de Janeiro.

Argentine guard Pablo Prigioni kicked an electronic clock off the scorer’s table at the end, reflecting the frustration of the loss — and perhaps the nation’s disappointment.

— Stephen Wade — Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP

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AN ISSUE WITH OFFICIATING

Are ya blind, ref? Russia’s sports minister is questioning some of the judging at the London Olympics, specifically in boxing and weightlifting.

Vitaly Mutko points to Irish lightweight Katie Taylor’s 10-8 win over Russia’s Sofya Ochigava in the women’s boxing final on Thursday. “How can you give such scores? You’d have to be blind,” Mutko was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency as saying.

The head of Russia’s Olympic Committee, Alexander Zhukov, said the judges may have been swayed by the enthusiastic cheering from the Irish fans. Mutko, however, was less forgiving and suggested that the judges have favored the host nation’s athletes.

“We see that a happy ending is being prepared in boxing,” he says.

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EDITOR’S NOTE — “Eyes on London” shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.