There weren’t any Team USA 1992 throwback unis and nowhere to be found was the pressure of the knockout stage of the Olympics. Yet Tuesday’s Team USA win over Spain, 100-78, was a chance to see how these teams matched up after days of “will they or won’t they” talk surrounding strategy. If you’re Spain, Marc Gasol didn’t play at forward, and he’s an advantage inside over every U.S. interior defender not named Tyson Chandler. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Despite mixed reviews of some guys calling this a “friendly” and Mike Krzyzewski saying it was the biggest game in Barcelona since ’92, there were a lot of highlight reel plays. Hit the jump to check out the five best.
5. LEBRON WITH THE FLUSH
When the U.S. runs pick and rolls between LeBron and Kevin Durant, two of the best passing bigs (even though KD is of course a 6-10 guard) ever to play, it’s a thing of understated beauty. The bungled Spanish “switch, nevermind don’t switch!” D contributes to this, of course. It should be interesting to see how much better the Spanish get by the knockout stage.
4. CALDERON TO IBAKA
On the pitch, the Spanish style of passing has born what many call the greatest soccer team, ever. Even without Ricky Rubio, the Spanish hoops counterparts can dish, as well. Take Jose Calderon here in the first quarter. His drive on Kevin Durant to the middle of the key sucks in Deron Williams off Serge Ibaka for some reason. Calderon doesn’t force the pass as quick as possible and risk KD getting a piece of it, instead waiting to get the two in the air and maximizing the pass.
3. CP3’s DIME
Pay no mind to the title on this video, something about Kevin Durant hitting his head on the rim. Stop it — he pulled himself up to do it. You should be watching this because of the one-handed laser Chris Paul finds KD with from about 20 feet away and through two layers of defense.
2. SPIN DOCTOR
It was close between CP3’s find to KD, but this one got everyone’s attention on the broadcast, the U.S. bench, you name it. Kevin Love executes a blow-by spin on Pau Gasol with all of about 18 inches of space on the baseline, and then finishes with a smooth one-handed layup. Love seems to be outside of Coach K’s eight-man rotation, but he’s not pouting when he gets in.
1. KOBE’S PUMP DUNK
I almost looked to see if Eddie Jones and Shaq were on the floor when this happened, because it was vintage Bean Bryant. As he gets older, a very fine vintage indeed.
How much stock should the U.S. put in the win?
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