July 12, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; United States forward LeBron James (6) and guard Deron Williams (8) are congratulated by teammates against the Dominican Republic in the first half at the Thomas and Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

USA Basketball: Australia Good, But Not Good Enough

For the most part, it was a game of runs. Thanks to Deron Williams and Lebron James, Team USA came out on top, allowing their team to go on a couple more runs than the Australians. The final score was 119 – 86. Here’s how it happened.

The first quarter opened up with multiple three-pointers coming from both sides, courtesy of Australia’s Patty Mills and our very own Kevin Durant. The defensive intensity never really picked up for the USA, as they allowed the Bloomers to get out in transition and make easy baskets through-out the game. Early in the quarter, in an attempt to protect the rim, Tyson Chandler got called for unsportsmanlike conduct which marked his second foul of the game. The American’s shear laziness in this department has been alarming.

Team USA instantly played better as soon as Deron Williams checked into the game, going on a 9-2 run, signifying what would be a familiar theme for the rest of the game. Williams finished the game with 18 points, canning jumper after jumper. Another theme that manifested itself in the first quarter and carried over to the second quarter: Kobe Bryant trying to do too much. We’ll get to that later.

Team USA finished the half up by 14 points, fuelled by Durant and Williams. Considering the Aussie’s terrible free throw shooting and botched lay-up attempts, things could have looked a lot worse for the wannabe Dream Team.

Led by Patty Mills, the Australian’s went on a run immediately as the second half started, all but erasing Team USA’s efforts to this point. Their eleven unanswered points had them down just three points until Kevin Durant, who finished the game with 14,  finally hit a three-pointer to mark USA’s first points of the second half.

The two teams traded baskets until two things happened: 1. Kobe Bryant turned it on. After being cold for the majority of the game, he hit two back-to-back three pointers. 2. Coach K finally decided to stop switching Tyson Chandler on to smaller guards that can shoot the ball.

After that, it was smooth sailing for the Americans. Kobe hit three more three’s in the fourth quarter and finished the game with a team-high 20 points, outdone only by Patty Mill’s 26 points for Australia, allowing the United States to build a 30 point lead. The Bloomers were outscored 35 – 16 in the fourth quarter, but they fought the good fight for the majority of the game.

 Game highlights:

The best parts of this game were easily Lebron James’ two magnificent first-quarter passes. Although he wasn’t mentioned much in the review, Lebron had his hands all over this game finishing with a triple double of 11 points, 12 assists and 14 rebounds.

The next best thing: Kevin Durant dunking all over Australia. Look for it on SportsCenter.

Australia’s Joe Ingles. I never watched this guy before today, but boy can he play. I’m sure he’ll be in the NBA one day, if he wants to be, that is.

 Things I’d like to see against Argentina:

Kobe Bryant coming off the bench. Don’t get me wrong. I loved his second half, but it’s clear that Russell Westbrook consistently brings more to this team on both sides of the ball. Seeing Kobe go off like he did in such a short period of time suggests that he would actually thrive in a sixth-man role, similar to the one Dwyane Wade took on four years ago.

More Kevin Love. He got more playing time today as Tyson Chandler found himself in foul trouble and although he can’t protect the rim as well, his double-double and energy paid dividends this afternoon.

Anthony Davis lobs. Because obviously.

Team USA will be playing Argentina sometime this Friday. The time is yet to be confirmed. Remember, Argentina will be the best team the United States has faced thus far. They’ll be led by NBA star and international menace Manu Ginobli and the help of Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino. Bulls fans can also look forward to watching former fan favourite, Andres Nocioni suiting up against Team USA. It’s going to take a much better effort from the American team to put the next game away on their quest for gold.

Tags: Olympics 2012

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