“The Expendables” steal the show in Team USA’s scrimmage vs. China

08.15.10 7 years ago 18 Comments

the expendables

While the World Basketball Festival‘s name implies fun and games, there are some ballplayers on a serious mission in New York City this weekend. Sometime in between today’s exhibition versus Team France and the beginning of the FIBA World Championship, Coach K still has two cuts to make from Team USA — which meant the guys believed to be on the borderline needed to do something impressive during yesterday’s scrimmage against China … In front of an invitation-only crowd at Madison Square Garden that included Kobe Bryant, most of the expendables put in work: Danny Granger scored a team-high 22 points in the 40-minute session, Eric Gordon put up 15, and Russell Westbrook cranked out some breakaway dunks that would have given Nate Robinson a challenge over All-Star Weekend … “I’d definitely say I’m fighting for a spot,” Gordon said afterward. “A lot of other people are. But definitely my position is one of those that’s up for grabs.” Gordon’s jumper was so automatic, whenever he went into his jump-shot motion guys on the USA bench would yell “layup!” … Meanwhile, Jeff Green and JaVale McGee were suited up but never got on the court. It wouldn’t be a stretch to pick those two as the guys getting cut. Kevin Love‘s spot should be safe, but he wasn’t great, either. The only time he really stood out was when Yi Jianlian got a step on him and threw down a dunk that K-Love had better hope won’t pop up on YouTube … The scrimmage was played in four quarters that were scored separately. The U.S. dominated the first three, choking the life out of China’s guards with a full-court press that led to some ridiculous dunks by Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Westbrook. But the fourth quarter was close, and in the final seconds, the U.S. led by one before Chinese point guard Liu Wei went to the rack and got fouled. With 1.3 showing on the clock, Wei calmly drilled both free throws, and while Gordon’s fadeaway three at the buzzer was straight, he threw it a little short … Also during that fourth quarter, Durant played center on some possessions. Not exactly as dramatic as Magic Johnson in 1980, but could you see KD really playing the five for Oklahoma City? Maybe against the Warriors. You could put Kevin James at center against G-State and he’d drop about 22 points and 8 boards …

kobe bryant

Coach Kobe

Other than the USA/China scrimmage, Day 3 of the World Basketball Festival was again centralized at Rucker Park. Kobe made a surprise appearance during the Chainlink Fundamentals clinic for kids and did his Pete Bell impersonation (without kicking a basketball), France ran through an outdoor practice, NYC’s top high school and playground stars were in action, and all of this cool stuff was going on … Not long after we said the Pistons were threatening to be the most irrelevant, boring team in the NBA, they’ve gotten pretty interesting. First they signed T-Mac, then Magic Johnson said he’d be interested in becoming an owner in Detroit, and now we might have a point guard controversy. Last year’s backup, Will Bynum, just got a new contract and now he wants a new role. “I don’t think for one second that the money I’m making makes me a reserve,” Bynum told the Detroit Free Press. “I just want to clear that up from the beginning.” Bynum would have to beat out Rodney Stuckey for the job, and although many think Stuckey is more suited to play two-guard, that’s Rip Hamilton‘s spot. Just to go all the way with the drama, how about we get Isiah Thomas a part-time job in the Pistons front office and make Dennis Rodman a color commentator? … We’re out like Jeff and JaVale …

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