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9.3 The Cooler

Team USA’s unlikely hero; Sam Cassell returns for Team Serbia

By 09.03.10

Eric Gordon (photo. Jeff Forney)


It seems like the easier the opponent, the harder Team USA insists on making things for themselves. But at least they’re still winning, and usually by blowout margins. Yesterday’s World Championship matchup against Group B doormat Tunisia was supposed to be a harmless stomping — and when it was over, Coach K‘s team was up 35 on the scoreboard — but the lasting impression was that the most talented team in the WC field let a clearly inferior squad hang in with them for the entire first half (Team USA led by six at the break) and some of the third quarter before Eric Gordon (21 pts), Russell Westbrook (14 pts) led the bench mob in restoring order to the mismatch … Gordon wasn’t even supposed to make the squad, and yet he’s been the best player for Team USA on more than a couple occasions this summer. Watching EJ rain threes and bully his way into the lane, we started debating in the Dime office: Will the Clippers make the playoffs in 2011? They definitely have a talented core in Baron, Gordon, Blake and Kaman, plus a decent bench and they got rid of Mike Dunleavy Sr. But two things are standing in the way: (1) Somebody in the West will have to drop off between the Lakers, Nuggets, Suns, Blazers, Thunder, Jazz, Spurs and Mavs to create an opening, and (2) They’re the Clippers … Team USA doesn’t play again until Monday, when they face Angola in the knockout round. Charles Barkley will forever define this matchup by acting like Dee-Bo on the entire Angolan team in the ’92 Olympics, but the country has gotten better since then and isn’t totally in awe of NBA players anymore. Still, though, this shouldn’t be a tough game for the U.S. if they’re on top of their game. But that if is about the size of Nicki Minaj‘s ass … The Serbia/Argentina game went down to the wire, was littered with legit NBA talent, and best of all, NBA TV replaced The Worst Announcer Ever with another obvious soccer transplant who at least knew how to control his volume and not act like a fool … After Luis Scola spent 39 and a half minutes destroying every Serbian in his path, Argentina still found themselves down by two in the final seconds. Scola (32 pts) hit two free throws to tie it, then Serbian PG Dusko Savanovic (19 pts) answered back with a huge three for the lead, punctuated by the Sam Cassell Big Balls Dance. And despite some helpful fouls by Serbia (“That was a dumb foul,” the announcer said when they fouled a three-point shooter), Argentina couldn’t close the gap … Other WC stat lines from Thursday: Leandro Barbosa‘s 17 points helped Brazil get past Croatia; Fran Vasquez (remember him, Orlando fans?) put up 19 points in Spain’s rout of Canada; Kirk Penney, a.k.a. Oceanic Billy Hoyle, dropped 25 in New Zealand’s upset of France; Baby Shaq‘s 16 points and 9 rebounds weren’t enough to get Greece past Russia; Patty Mills‘ 11 points was the only double-figure scoring in Australia’s win over Angola; Tior Plieb put up 23 and 9 boards in Germany’s win over Jordan; Goran Dragic scored 18 as Slovenia beat Iran; J.J. Barea‘s 19 points and 7 assists came in a losing cause for Puerto Rico against Ivory Coast; Renaldas Seibutis went for 19 points in Lithuania’s win over Lebanon; and Semih Erden posted 18 points, 12 boards and 3 blocks as Turkey destroyed China … Seriously, China was terrible without Yi Jianlian, who sat out with an Achilles injury. As a team they had THIRTEEN points at halftime, finished with a mere 40, and was making Turkey’s big men look like Hakeem and Sampson clones. China’s turnover count (24) almost matched their shooting percentage (29% FG). The Better NBA TV Announcer was blatantly calling them soft and pointing out they had no heart … The Warriors are reportedly close to signing Rodney Carney, who might have been created in a lab specifically to play in Nellie‘s system. Carney is 6-7, all arms and legs, the son of a track star whose three best skills are running, jumping and dunking. It’s basically James White with a little less flight … We’re out like the tune-up round …


TOPICS#BLAKE GRIFFIN
TAGSBARON DAVISCHARLES BARKLEYCHRIS KAMANCOACH KERIC GORDONFran VasquezGORAN DRAGICHAKEEM OLAJUWONleandro barbosaLuis ScolaPatty MillsRALPH SAMPSONRodney CarneyRUSSELL WESTBROOKSmackSofoklis SchortsanitisYi Jianlian

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