Take that World Cup Champion nation!!!!
USA!! USA!! USA!!
Well, if you believe what you've read, the U.S. survived their first test and faced "their first wake-up call." Whatever.
Contributor SS summed this up the best earlier today when he said "winning by nine is not almost losing." I argued this point, but then I watched the game. And SS is right, the U.S. didn't come close to losing. They were scared for a half, and then Carmelo Anthony took over with 29 second half points en route to 35 total.
Did they play great? Oh hell no. Were they horrible in the first half? Oh hell yeah!
The first half was like bizarro half from what we've seen thus far out of Team America. They played selfish one-on-one offense. They couldn't force many turnovers. They shot 63% from the foul line.
To make matters worse, Dwight Howard got hurt. I cringed. I thought about who would rebound the ball now, since to this point no one but Howard seemed to remember rebounding was part of the game.
Italy was not intimidated. They were chippy. They were talking smack. They were leading by 9 at the half. NINE!!
But then Coach K remembered what he'd read here. He remembered my sage wisdom. Suddenly, in Japan a voice in the locker room must have whispered advice:
"Play Wade, LeBron and 'Melo together and all will be fine."
And you know what Coach K did? He played 'Melo, Wade, LeBron, Paul and Brand. Suddenly, Italy's lead was gone, Carmelo was the most prolific one game scorer in USA Basketball history and the U.S. had clinched Group D.
They still have some problems since they can't defend a pick and roll to save their life and at some point in this tournament a team is going to play defense for all four quarters. But a win is a win, and that's all that matters here. They got taken out of their game entirely early and fought back. The '04 team would have crumbled. This team didn't.
Bring on Senegal!