The U.S. Men Take Care of France; Luol Deng Looks Good In Debut

07.30.12 6 years ago
Team USA

Team USA (photo. Nike)

Coach K looked for a reason to knock Team USA’s win over France in both teams’ Olympic debuts Sunday. He said they overpassed — as if 27 dimes on 31 buckets is a bad thing. Kevin Durant (22 points, 9 boards) led the squad and had a nasty dunk in the first quarter where he looked like he was about to take a Euro step from inside the free throw line and threw it down over two defenders instead. He kept the ball high over the top so they couldn’t swipe at it and it’s not far from there to the rim when you’re KD’s length. Just because you have six NBA players on your national team doesn’t mean they’re up to the task of guarding KD or LeBron for 40 minutes. That was France’s best selling point leading up to the opener: they have six NBA players. Well, great. Everyone on Team USA is not only in the League, but they’re stars (and Anthony Davis‘ college season was otherworldly.). Boris Diaw had an actually nice playoff run for the Spurs but he couldn’t get within three feet of LeBron (9 points and 8 absolute dimes) with ball pressure, which then led to alley-oop passes. … LeBron had easily the play of the night when he took a short outlet from Tyson Chandler and whipped a no-hesitation bounce pass about 40 feet, threading it past Nic Batum and right into KD’s hands for a dunk. Wow. Keep in mind the U.S. was only leading by one point after the first quarter, but stretched it to 16 by half and it was up to 20 not far into the third. The U.S. outscored the French 56-30 in the middle quarters, which ended any drama right then and there. There was no “panic” that Batum thought might kick in after a foul-filled first quarter. The FIBA refs aren’t exactly into the “star system” of reffing like we have in the states, and that, as predicted, is going to be the real test of these Games for the U.S. Once the U.S. laid down some triples to start the third quarter, the game was over and it was time for Kevin Love to come out of the doghouse to get 14 points. … Michael Wilbon, as savvy a basketball writer — and with access to players, current and former, like few others — as there is today, wrote that Chandler is Team USA’s most indispensable player. Doesn’t that feel obvious? Without any other true centers with NBA experience on the roster, it’s been known for a long time that Chandler is the focal point. The implied end to the Chandler-as-most-important argument is, against Spain. We feel that Argentina is dangerous (easily beating Lithuania on Sunday with Manu Ginobili hitting 21 points) but is past its prime a little too far to hang with the U.S. past three quarters, while Spain is good enough to kick those American gold-medal dreams to the curb. That team gives Jerry Colangelo nightmares in his siestas. So Chandler is important in any situation. But against lower-level squads it’s not the end of the world if he gets in foul trouble. Against Spain, however, he’s the most important U.S. player. … Making a pit stop back into free agency, where Joel Przybilla has Milwaukee as his lead suitor, reportedly. … No one is expecting Great Britain to live up to the first word in its name in its first basketball Olympic team since 1964. If you’re a Bulls fan you’ve got to like how Luol Deng (26 points, playing every minute) and his left wrist looked during a loss to Russia. He said it felt “great” afterward to the Chicago Tribune. The injury happened in January but he’s still not revealing if he’s going to get surgery on it. That might be a little gamesmanship on his part, because what team wants a guy whose injury has lingered that long? If he plays like this during the Olympics (GB won’t make it out of group stage, so it’ll only be a few more games), you can bet teams will be testing Chicago’s level of commitment to Deng again. Andrei Kirilenko had 35 points for the Russians, making GM David Kahn and owner Glen Taylor dance giddily somewhere in Minnesota (or on vacation). … Patty Mills had 20 points, seven boards and four dimes in a bad loss against Brazil, where Tiago Splitter had 7 points and 7 boards. … We’re out like a French upset.

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