A revenge game, as our guys take on the team that knocked us out of the last World Championships. This team is good and poses a huge danger to us. Let’s see how it goes by position, such as it is.
PG: Kidd picked up three fouls in the first two minutes. CP’s come in and instantly improved the ball movement. He’s also smartly realized the tenor of the game and picked up two quick fouls on Greek players with his penetration drives. This may be a factor as he drives to the rim on the fast break and the Greeks look afraid to touch him (plus the replay shows a sweet head fake like he was going to pass it off behind him). Followed by a CP steal and feed to Kobe under the basket. D-Will starts the 2nd, but quickly moves to the 2 when Wade goes out; CP back in, gets some nice ball movement again, but is fairly quiet. By-the-by, at the 5:08 mark in the 2nd, we’re up 36-26. D-Will comes back in at point; oof, he just committed an offensive foul, so that’s his second. Surprisingly, Coach sits him (and brings back CP). Kidd starts the 3rd. In short order he gives up a wide open three at one end, fails to get the rebound at the other, and a few possessions later slows down a fast break; how lucky are we to have his leadership and veteran presence? What the hell? On a later fast break he tries to throw the ball off the backboard to a trailer and is not even close to reaching anyone. Right. Sit down. CP comes in immediately, but has a few quiet minutes. CP starts the 4th. Schools their center on a switch, nice jumper. Oof, then torched at the other end by a driving Spanoulis. Comes back with a nice pass to D-Will, but DW is fouled.
SG: Kobe starts off well, but picks up an early intentional foul; the Greeks are frustrating us and it shows. Wade comes in, but for once is quiet. D-Will then checks in; doesn’t do much. Wade starts the 2nd, and gets a great steal and alley-oop to Kobe to start the quarter; and then another steal and a fast-break to Lebron who dunks it home. He then lands funny on a play and immediately asks to come out. D-Will slides to the 2. But, before he does anything, Wade comes back in, and quickly makes two nice plays on the offensive end, and then adds a 3 for good measure; how much were the Greeks hoping he was injured? Kobe back to the 2; how any of these guys know what position they’re playing when, I have no idea. At halftime, it’s 51-32, maybe Coach will explain it to them in the locker room. Kobe starts the 3rd. Nice drive to the rim, takes the contact, still puts in the shot, but misses the and one. Damn, nice block by Mamba at the other end. Wade comes in at the 2 and Kobe slides over. About twenty seconds later D-Will comes in and picks up his 3rd foul (what is with the substitutions?). Nice dish to Wade for 2. D-Will starts the 4th. Makes a few good hustle plays. Interesting; they go to the Syracuse zone in the final minutes (Coach Boeheim is an assistant coach).
SF: Lebron misses his first two lay-ups. Kobe moves to the 3. Nice penetration on the feed from CP and he makes the pass to Lebron for the easy lay-up. Now Wade shifts to the 3; smothering D by him helps hold the Greeks to a 24-second violation. HOLY CRAP. Wade just came out of nowhere to snag an offensive rebound over the entire Greek team and then put it right back in. Hmmm…next play he gets shoved to the ground and then a no call…strange calls tonight. Kobe moves back to the 3 to start the 2nd; he’s still struggling from 3-point range–there it is! I told you, Kobe gets a pass from Lebron (who finally realizes he can’t take on 5 players), and nails a 3 from about four feet behind the line, that is, around the NBA line–why these guys don’t keep to their normal rhythms and do this more often, I don’t know (it would also stretch out the defense). He then slides back to the 2 and Lebron returns to the 3; Bron-Bron gets a steal and takes it home. After a time out he makes a nice pass to Bosh for 2, followed by a selfish 3 next time by the floor (clank). Outlet pass to Lebron, he stumbles, and through sheer skill, keeps his balance and the dribble, gets up, and realizing that inexplicably, he’s not being covered, takes two steps and jams it. Lebron starts the 3rd. Does nothing. Kobe slides over, he’s starting to make some shots, which is a good sign for Team USA. About twenty seconds later, Wade slides to the 3 and Kobe sits. It’s 69-49 with 2:05 left to go. He draws a foul on a 3, but only makes 1 FT: must be the trapezoid playing with his head. Wade starts the 4th. Makes a few steals, the team is vicious defensively in the fourth, no sign of letting up. Redd finally comes in with about six minutes to go, but is fairly quiet, though drains a 3 near the end of the game, and does give a dish off for a 3 by D-Will.
PF: Carmelo has done nothing in the first four minutes, but helps put us in the penalty for team fouls at the five minute mark. Lebron moves to the 4, he is quiet, and then ‘Melo comes back in a few minutes later, who does nothing, and Lebron moves back to the 4. Wow, ‘Bron just turned down the iso set to pass to an open Wade for 3 (he misses, but it’s the point). Lebron is picking up some points tonight, but they’re mostly clean-up points. He’s done little spectacular, really, unless you count thundering home dunks off a loose ball or on a fast break spectacular; my point is, these are all plays Erick Dampier could have made. With Bosh’s return, ‘Melo slides back to the four. Carmelo starts the third. Hits a 3 about three minutes in. Doesn’t do much else; Lebron slides to the 4. Oh, nice block on the fast break! But on the next possession, when he’s knocked down under the basket, he looks for a pushing foul instead of getting up off his ass. Carmelo comes back in right after, who is subsequently blocked twice in a row under the rim; so next time down he decides to try a contested 2 from deep, and isn’t even close. Carmelo starts the 4th. Does nothing, and Lebron comes in quick, gets a few steals, but one throwaway. So with it 80-57 at the 6:25, he sits in favor of Prince. Prince plays some good D, but doesn’t see much action on the other end.
C: Howard has to watch his fouls, they’re calling this close. Bosh comes in half way through the first and immediately gets a nice feed from CP; two straight bad plays on D, though–oh, but then he draws a nice charge on Greece’s center. Howard starts the 2nd, and starts with a big dunk, but then Coach puts Bosh back in at the 7:31 mark. What the hell? And Bosh then picks up his second foul with 7:00 to go. Ultimately, he does take out Bosh, for ‘Melo?? He does get a steal and stumble coast-to-coast, only to miss the lay-up (quickly jammed in by Lebron). But about a minute later, Coach goes back to Bosh, who closes out the half by avoiding his third foul and getting a rejection on a straight up jumper. Howard starts the 3rd. Brings down a couple boards to start. Bosh comes in around half-way through the quarter. Oh, Bosh’s rejection follows ‘Bron’s! Bosh starts the 4th. He plays solid, if undistinguishing. So at half way through, Boozer comes in. Boozer. At the 5. He’s guarding the line, and there’s no one in the paint. Why? Then he struggles against a much bigger center. Oh well, U.S. wins, 92-69.
Coach: they said coming in that the Greeks struggled against the zone, but Coach K said he didn’t plan on using the zone; interesting way to ignore your scouts. He’s yelling at the ref for a non-call early. Interesting. CP and Bosh pick up their second foul early in the second–why doesn’t he sit CP and bring in Redd, and also bring back Howard? Isn’t Coach K used to guys fouling out with 5 fouls? We’re short big, he might want to be careful. Apparently, they’re reporting that Coach is going to a 9 man rotation here, so Redd, Prince, and Boozer are apparently all on the outside looking in. The real question is why the hell is Kidd not on the short list? He looks horrible. Imagine CP/D-Will feeding Redd all game? If it’s all about the “team,” and not ego or appearances, why does Coach start Howard and Kidd, both of whom he doesn’t give as minutes as their back-ups?
For once, I’m impressed by Team USA. Moreover, I don’t feel as if anyone really stood out. That is, the TEAM did well. I’m really excited about their next game against Spain now.