Sunday, August 27, 2006

USA 113, Australia 73 Eight-Final Final

Take that Australia!!


A very interesting game that I followed live thanks to the wonderful NBA TV network.

Now, ESPN2 had the game on at some point. I knew this to be true. But, between their grid listings on my cable system, their Web site listings and's listing, I truly had no idea when it was scheduled as each listed a different start time. So, screw them, let's listen to Rick Kamla.

Team America started in their typically slow fashion.

Their transition defense was bad. Andrew Bogut dribbled behind his back to get past Elton Brand for an easy score. The Aussies grabbed a 15-14 lead. The one thing the United States had working early was the 3-ball, as they scored 12 of their first 14 from distance.

Coach K put D-Wade and Dwight Howard into the ballgame at the same time midway through the first, and I was ready for the big run. But, the game only turned slightly once he did. Wade went right to the rim easily for a basket. Bogut tried the same behind the back dribble and was denied by Howard. Two more U.S. offensive possessions resulted in easy baskets by Howard and Wade. However, Howard got two quick fouls and came out after only 4 minutes and D-Wade looked sloppy early with a lot of turnovers.

The U.S. had a 27-23 lead after the 1st.

And then it happened.

They played tenacious defense. They forced turnovers left and right. Joe Johnson caught fire from the outside. Andrew Bogut got in foul trouble. Carmelo Anthony started attacking the rim, then turned to draining 3s. The Aussies missed what felt like 20 3's in a row (I'm not keeping running stats for you!). LeBron moved the ball brilliantly to beat the zone, leading to another wide open shot for Joe Johnson, who then stripped the ball cleanly at the other end and went coast to coast for the jam.

It was beautiful and horrifying all at the same time depending on your perspective.

Thanks to a 17-1 run and a 32-6 (SIX!) quarter, the United States led 59-29 at the half. Team America shot 78% from downtown in the half. Australia did not.

Some notes from the second half, since the outcome was well in-hand at this point:

Something seems off about Elton Brand's game to me. His patented 12-footer isn't falling very often and I can't figure out why.

The Japanese are there to see Dwayne Wade and LeBron James. The oohing and aahing after every move to the basket is very refreshing.

Nice to see Brad Miller hitting some shots and Chris Bosh getting some quality minutes. The U.S. is going to need one of them at some point in this tournament.

Overall, I thought it was a pretty typical performance from the United States. They turned it on in the second quarter like they've been doing, and they won it by forcing turnovers and making wide open shots.

Bring on Germany.

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