Team USA headed into the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona this afternoon to face off against Spain for their last exhibition game before the Olympics officially begin. Missing in action for the Spain National Team was Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies. If (essentially when) the two teams face off again, look for his presence to make a difference.
Chris Paul opened the game with a three pointer but it wasn’t much help as Spain came out of the gate strong, scoring 22 points points to the USA’s 13, shooting a sizzling 10-13 from the floor before Coach K decided to call the first time out of the game. Following the break, the US went on an 8-0 run to cut Spain’s lead to just 2 before the end of the first quarter.
This USA team has made a staple of being unselfish and always making that extra pass. A more inconsistent staple however, has
been their defensive prowess. While Coach K would like them to be more consistent, the USA’s second quarter defense was more than enough to stifle their opponent as they took control of the game heading into the second half. The second quarter included deflection after deflection leading to easy transition lay-ups on the other side. If there’s one guy that can be trusted to be at the helm of a Lebron-Durant fast break, it’s Chris Paul. You know he’ll make the right call, even if the existence of a “wrong” pass is unlikely. Speaking of Chris Paul and Kevin Durant, Durant actually hit his head on the rim completing a dunk off a sweet feed from the maestro himself.
Even if he’s not exactly the best as getting his hands into a defensive play, Carmelo Anthony put on a clinic of his own. He hit five of his six three point attempts heading into the half, leading the USA with 23 points. He would finish with 27. Serge Ibaka led the opponents with 16 points shooting a sizzling 8/9 from the field. Another notable stat from Iblocka: he had already conceded 3 goaltending plays before the half was over. Serge is an enemy to backboards all over the world, not just American ones.
As the third quarter came underway, the US lead 48-40. Oh, and Durant-Lebron pick and rolls are the single scariest thing a defensive coach could have to think about. I’m sure even our own Tom Thibadeou would be having nightmares thinking about it. In fact, he probably is.
The US continued to dominated through-out the third, as a three-point play followed by a steal and a slam, courtesy of Russell Westbrook made it a 21-point lead for the Americans. While Spain was able to go on a run behind their zone-defense and the United State’s over-passing, they never could get the game back to single digits.
Team USA won easily behind Lebron’s 25 and Carmelo’s 27. While they did hit a few tough jumpers, their 13-23 performance from deep is a reflection of the unselfish culture that Coach K has implemented on this team. As the old adage goes, you don’t need size when you’re better than everywhere. Sorry, what? I guess it’s actually “defense wins championships.” Oh well.
In more important news, Carmelo Anthony has given up on Gatorade and has actually become a huge proponent of chocolate milk.