From initial tip off the game was not going Team Americas way, but the first quarter was the giant wake up call for the Red, White & Blue. The most notable stat for the first 10 minutes was the 3-21 shooting from the floor and six turnovers in the shortened FIBA quarters. Team USA went into the half trailing by 1 point, but in contrast to their horrible unproductive offense the Americans should tremendous poise on defense, which is why after 2 periods the score was within one. The one moment I will take from the first half that compacts Team USA’s problems all in one play was Rudy Gay’s failed dunk in the 1st period. The Lithuanian’s shot a lob pass and in some confusion it went over the player and Gay slipped behind for what should have been a break away dunk. With a 10 foot lead he should have scored with ease but his showboating left him about 8 inches short of the rim and the dunk clanked.
The second half was much more Team USA-like, in transition to the 3rd and 4th period USA took off on a 24-2 run and opened up the game and at one point ran the court for a 17-0 swing. USA squeaked out a win against a fairly strong defensive but soft scoring team, should this happen today against Spain they will not find victory. The one complaint and possibly rightfully so was the ads on the floor, you could see it was leading to both teams problems, the recently laid ads were causing the floor to be slick and easily causing pivot and stop/go issues. Hopefully today it will improve and USA will have no excuse to execute.
The only player I find myself looking for for obvious reasons was routinely absent from playing time against Lithuania and I question whether it was his heart or his production. Like most players he struggled offensively with 2 points, 2 rebounds, no assists and possibly a steal (the official box score has not been released). While his offense was sorrowful Rondo did really strike hot on defense. To put it frankly he was the pants on the model’s ass, there was just no room for movement with Rondo on you. His lazy play on offense worries me, but to see such a vicious effort on D makes me look forward to what he is bringing to October and a new edge to his game.
Hopefully the guys spent the night at the hotel re-watching their efforts and reassessing the flash in their game and heading back to basics. While they should win easily, scoring should never be such a cake walk and they need to remember they still playing world class athletes. The Dream Team cruised because the took every games like they were in the NBA Finals. When LeBron and Co revamped the roster the team tried to win with flash and we all know what shade their medal was don’t we.
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