Tag:Team USA
Posted on: August 25, 2010 4:04 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2010 4:05 pm
 

Team USA rolls Greece 87-59

Posted by Royce Young

Wednesday's friendly featuring Team USA and Greece was nothing more than a formality. It was the last tuneup before the World Championships and despite the game being in Athens in front of a charged up crowd, the U.S. put a Nenad Krstic type beating on the Greeks.

Coach K played everyone and gave his roster a solid look as Team USA rolled to a 87-59 victory. We saw some interesting rotations and pairings that probably aren't any indication of what will be used in Turkey, but more of a "Let everyone play" type of thing.

The Americans stuck to the formula that has worked in their first three friendlies. Create turnovers, move in transition and defend. The things the U.S. didn't do so well was defend the interior (center Kostas Tsartsaris, starting in place of injured star Ioannis Bourousis, finished with 24 points). Lamar Odom started the game at the 5 for Team USA and didn't seem to handle the Greek big men very well. And this was without Sofo Schortsanitis who sat out the game after injuring his foot in pregame warmups.

Eric Gordon led the way for Team USA with 18 points, hitting four 3s. Kevin Durant adding 15 on 6-11 shooting, plus grabbed seven boards and dished three assists, a team high. Kevin Love led the way on the glass with 12 rebounds. Derrick Rose was maybe the most impressive American on the day, scoring 13 points on 6-7 from the field.

The most minutes anyone from Team USA played was 21 with no one playing fewer than 10. Greece only played 10 and was locked down by tight American defense, shooting just 40 percent from the floor and also only had one player score in double figures. The U.S. did a ton of damage on the glass as well, doubling Greece 44-22 in rebounds. All in all, with Greece sitting some of its premier players and the entire roster lacking an NBA player, the result was to be expected.

I assume Coach K has his rotations figured out and that's why he went with some unique pairings today. Figuring out when to play Durant at center, Russell Westbrook off the ball, Odom at the 5 or Rose, Gordon and Curry all together is not going to be easy. And today's exhibition really gave no inside glance into how Coach K plans on managing it.

There honestly wasn't a ton to take from this friendly because the U.S. was clearly just playing everyone and Greece wasn't at full tilt. But it did give a glimpse as to where Team USA has an advantage over teams like Greece. The U.S. has to continue to use its length, athleticism and speed in the open court to find easy looks. And in the halfcourt, the drive-and-kick is Team USA's best friend. Tyson Chandler has so far given very little on the interior and with no back-to-the-basket player, the Americans will have to find other ways to score. And when you have Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay, those ways tend to show themselves more often than not.
Posted on: August 24, 2010 1:58 pm
 

Rajon Rondo withdraws from Team USA

Celtics guard asks to be cut for personal reasons, final roster set.
Posted by Matt Moore

A shocking development came down the pipeline of Team USA today, as Rajon Rondo has been cut from the team, after asking to withdraw for personal reasons . Head of USA basketball Jerry Colangelo thanked Rondo for his effort and commitment and issued a statement of support for the Celtics guard. Rondo had been the starter for Team USA, but had also looked lackadaiscal and dispassionate for long stretches.

The final cut was widely talked about being between Stephen Curry, whose game fits well on the international stage but who has been battling injury, and Russell Westbrook, the lowest name guard on roster. With Rondo out, they both make the team. Losing Rondo hurts in several key areas however. While a lot of talk has been about the lack of shooting on Team USA, an area Rondo was not equipped to help in, his pressure perimeter defense and distribution skills were unmatched among the plethora of guards Coach K and Colangelo decided to take overseas. Losing him means Derrick Rose will need to step up considerably on both sides of the ball to be the distributor, with Chauncey Billups primarily playing shooting guard for the club.

The final Team USA roster, finalized today with Rondo's withdrawal:

Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets)
Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks)
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies)
Eric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers)
Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers)
Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers)
Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Lamar Odom
(Los Angeles Lakers)
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)

The 2010 FIBA World Championships begin Saturday.
Posted on: August 22, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2010 5:35 pm
 

USA defeats Spain 86-85 in an exhibition classic

Posted by Royce Young

With about 90 seconds left in Team USA's game against Spain Sunday, I had to stop and remind myself, "Wait, this is an exhibition. It doesn't even count." But it felt like it did. And both teams played as if it did.

In a rematch of the 2008 gold medal game and what might have been a preview of this year's title game in Turkey, Team USA defeated Spain 86-85 in front of a rowdy sold out crowd in Madrid.

The game came down to a final possession as Kevin Durant bothered Ricky Rubio into an airball then won it for the U.S. with a block on Rudy Fernandez as time expired. Derrick Rose came up big for Team USA in crunch time on the other end hitting two free throws with 16 seconds remaining to put the U.S. up one.

Early on, it looked like the Americans would cruise to an easy victory. The States jumped out to a 16-3 lead hitting seven of their first 10 shots while Spain was ice cold, starting just 1-10. But the Spaniards were pesky. Despite the sluggish start, Spain stayed close and used a big third quarter run to cut the U.S. to two, eventually tying the score at 80-80 with about three minutes left in the fourth.

The game against Lithuania was an excellent learning experience for the young group of Americans because Team USA had to overcome some adversity and poor offense to eventually pull away from a gritty group. Today's game against Spain is an equally important test but in a different way. Team USA was pushed and had to figure out what it would do in difficult times. Where does the ball go in crunch time? Who's handling the ball in a close game? Who's defending their playmakers? All these questions finally got a first answer put to them.

Durant finally found his offense, scoring 25 points in his usual effortless manner. He was 9-16 from the floor and in key moments late, the offense centered around him. After Spain took its first lead of the game 82-80 with about two minutes remaining, the U.S. immediately went to Durant who hit a tough baseline runner to knot the score again. It may have been only an exhibition, but these were some defining moments for Team USA, as this young group begins to find some identity and understand roles.

Another potentially interesting thing to mention was Coach K's rotations at the end of the game. Lamar Odom saw time at center over Tyson Chandler who didn't play well. Also, Russell Westbrook subbed in on defense for Chauncey Billups meaning that Westbrook likely will make the final 12-man if anything for at least a defensive stopper.

Both Danny Granger and Rajon Rondo sat today, but the feeling there is that it was for no other reason than to get some rest and give some extended looks to guys competing for that final spot. Kevin Love also didn't play because of a hard fall Saturday against Lithuania, but is fine and will be ready for the next game.

Obviously, with this being a friendly, it's safe to assume both teams held a little something back. Both squads surely expect to each one another again at some point in the tournament and didn't want to show too many cards. But at the same time, both groups wanted to win. Spain's guards were tough for the U.S. to handle and Marc Gasol chewed up Team USA on the inside. On the flip side, the Team USA's athleticism was too much for Spain to keep up with and in big moments the U.S. had proven playmakers while Spain didn't have somewhere to go.

If we really learned anything certain to take away from this exhibition it's that if these two teams meet again, it should be a whole heck of a lot of fun.

Posted on: August 21, 2010 7:41 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2010 7:43 pm
 

Team USA struggles, beats Lithuania 77-61

Posted by Royce Young

It may have just been an exhibition, but Team USA was pushed Saturday against Lithuania for three quarters, before pulling away to a 77-61 in Madrid. The reasons for the closer-than-expected game? Sloppy passing, bad offense and more bad offense.

What kept the U.S. from being blown out in the first 20 minutes was a strong defensive effort that held Lithuania to just 28 first half points. The problem though, was that the Americans only had 29. A lot of the issues could be summed up in a wide open fast break dunk blown by Rudy Gay. The U.S. was careless with the ball, missed open jumpers and didn't finish the easy inside looks.

The guy that is supposed to be reliable on the offensive end continued to struggle a bit. Kevin Durant led the team with 15 points, but missed every outside jumper he took and scored mostly at the rim and from the free throw line. So far in his three international games, Durant is 14-38 from the floor and 0-7 from 3. As someone that's watched Durant play a lot, it looks to me like he's pressing a bit.

In games where Durant wasn't able to just relax and play, he struggled at times last season. Coach K talked about how KD needed to be more unselfish and sometimes with a guy like Durant who plays a certain way without thinking much about it, that can get into his head some. There's obviously nothing to worry about with KD because he's got one of the smoothest strokes in the game and can score 25 in his sleep, but his three games thus far haven't exactly set the world on fire. I have no doubt he'll get it going though because even in games where he doesn't play exceptional, he's always good. Heck, even games he goes 13-17 for 44 points he thinks all night about the four missed shots. So don't fret about KD.

Durant's teammate Russell Westbrook on the other hand, made a strong statement for a roster spot. He was named MVP of the game scoring 12 points while really kicking his team into gear with a ton of high energy off the bench. He had his jumper going as he hit two 3s and was a menace defensively, hawking Lithuania's guards all over the floor. Westbrook is likely a bubble guy, but showed today where he could have value. He's not a strong shooter, but he's a player that is valuable in a number of different areas. He defends, rebounds, penetrates, creates and sometimes when he gets that jumper going, can score at will.

There's no telling which direction Jerry Colangelo and Coach K are leaning on picking between Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon and Westbrook (the three likely competing for the last roster spot) but for the most part, Curry and Gordon do the same things, at least on this roster. Westbrook provides a number of different skills. So a combination of Westbrook plus either Curry or Gordon to go with Chauncey Billups, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo might make the most sense.

It wasn't a pretty 40 minutes of basketball for the Americans, but Lithuania gave Team USA a good push. That's definitely a good thing because it gives Coach K something to point out in the film room plus is a minor wake up call that you can't just waltz through this tournament. These teams may not have a name on them that you recognize or can pronounce, but they can still play.

Team USA takes on Spain in another exhibition in Madrid Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. The game can be seen on NBATV.
Posted on: August 13, 2010 8:55 am
Edited on: August 13, 2010 11:22 am
 

Shootaround 8.13.10: Jennings sets the bar

Posted by Royce Young
  • Brandon Jennings tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel some goals for the season: "This year I'm working hard to come back," Jennings said. "I want to be a double-double guy. I feel like with the talent we have I can be that. All-star weekend is in Los Angeles, and that is a goal to be an all-star. Win 50 games, win the Central Division and get out of the first round and see what happens."
  • Carmelo Anthony was at the Team USA Showcase in New York last night and during an interview, talked a little about New York: "In his own mini-interview, Anthony was asked for his thoughts on the crowd gathered before him. He answered to the tune of resounding cheers, “New York fans have always been the best fans.” That of course is more interesting than usual because of Ken Berger's report that 'Melo wants to play in New York.
  • Derrick Favors scored 20 percent of his points last season at Georgia Tech on dunks, and had a lot of work to do offensively, so says Sebastian Pruiti of Nets Are Scorching: "Offensively, Favors has a lot of work to do. He lacks the requisite ball-handling skills to be able to take his man off the dribble like this, and when he struggles offensively he can float on defense, then leading to missed rebound opportunities. There’s no excuse for that. He can also look uncomfortable inside, forcing things and moving too quickly for his own good."
  • Ken Berger fills us in on the latest labor talks: "There seems to be agreement on both sides that something needs to be done to improve the competitive balance of the league. How to do it, however, remains hotly contested. The players believe many of the owners’ woes can be solved through broader revenue sharing, for which they included a plan in their proposal. The owners continue to believe that how the owners divvy up hundreds of millions in annual losses doesn’t solve the problem that expenses are too high. According to sources, the owners seem to be hunkered down in their pursuit of shorter contracts with less guaranteed money – and they appear to be focusing on those issues even more than reducing the 57 percent share of basketball-related income (BRI) that the players receive."
  • Michael Lee of the Washington Post on JaVale McGee's showcase performance: "He really had just one spurt, in the second half, when teammate Lamar Odom drove down the lane and dropped off a pass to McGee for an uncontested two-handed dunk. His night got off to a inauspicious start, as he got the ball at the top of the key and attempted to drive on Tyson Chandler. McGee backed down Chandler, but it appeared that Chandler pulled the rug out from under McGee as McGee stumbled backward and threw the ball over his head and off the backboard as he fell to the ground."
  • John Krolik of Cavs: The Blog on LeBron's tweet comment: "I was interested by the reaction to LeBron’s “I’m making mental notes of all the people who took shots at me” tweet. Other than THERE IS NO GOOD REASON FOR LEBRON TO HAVE A TWITTER, my main takeaway from that is this: LeBron’s move to Miami to play with Wade and Bosh, along with LRMR’s involvement in everything, has definitely advanced the “LeBron wants to live Entourage , and doesn’t really care about true greatness” storyline."
  • Don't forget, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony is tonight. It's always a good watch and with Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone going in, we can surely expect a couple quality speeches.
  • Trey Kerby of Ball Don't Lie interviewed Kevin Durant: KD: Man, it's so fun. I remember yesterday in practice I got a rebound and pushed it up the court. I'm used to having Nenad Krstic and Thabo Sefolosha running on the sides — nothing against those guys, of course — but Nenad is not as athletic as Derrick Rose . (laughs) And I had D-Rose on one side and [Andre] Iguodala on the other. So I'm like, "Who do I throw it to?" So I just threw it up. (mimes a lob pass) And it was a bad pass. I'm like, "Awwww, turnover." (hangs head) But Iguodala came out of nowhere, grabbed it with one hand and dunked it. (smiling excitedly)"
Posted on: July 28, 2010 5:37 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 12:12 am
 

Team USA makes odd cuts to roster

Posted by Matt Moore

Not everyone gets to go to Istanbul (not Constantinople ). Today Team USA officials revealed the roster finalists that will head to New York for the last round of cuts before starting international play for this summer's FIBA World Championships. Royce has told you all about who made it. But who got cut?

Just as we told you earlier that FanHouse had reported , Tyreke Evans, Gerald Wallace, O.J. Mayo and JaVale McGee were cut from the roster before the team heads to New York.  Evans was known for a while, as he tweaked his ankle at the start of camp and was going to be unavailable for the team regardless. The others, though, represent a set of confusing decisions that aren't extremely perplexing, but are enough to make you scratch your head, especially when you examining who they were replaced with. Some of these could be due to conflicts, personality clashes, or injury, but based on basketball, there are some question marks.

These players who made the cut were locks, and should have been:

1. Kevin Durant: Best player available.
2. Chauncey Billups: Veteran leadership.
3. Lamar Odom: Who doesn't want a space cadet small forward with great length who occasionally is dominant?
4. Danny Granger: Good at basketball.
5. Andre Iguodala: His reputation preceds his game. By miles.
6. Tyson Chandler: Big, which USA has none of right now.
7. Brook Lopez: Ditto, despite his game not being well suited for FIBA play.
8. Stephen Curry: A prolific shooter with passing skills and range. Perfect for Coach K, perfect for FIBA.
9. Kevin Love: Seriously. No bigs. Need bigs.
10. Rudy Gay: Has looked like he actually is worth the money he earned this summer, and they need a true SF with multiple combo-forwards on roster.

But then there are these five.

11. Jeff Green: Tweener that's not a great rebounder, provides range and versatility on a roster stacked with perimeter players.
12. Rajon Rondo: Not a great mid-range shooter, seemed to dog it in the Team USA scrimmage. Coach K did say on a conference call that he and Rondo have a good relationship.
13. Russell Westbrook: Fiery, great penetration guard, but it's a roster chock full of them. Seems superfluous next to Curry, Rondo, and Billups.
14. Derrick Rose: Same deal.
15. Eric Gordon: Wait, what?

Wallace is able to play the 3 or the 4, unlike Gay, is a better rebounder than Iggy, and is a better defender than Granger. If you're shopping for a versatile player that doesn't have to score (due to the roster being stuffed with scorers), Wallace is a great combination of all of the above. Sure, he doesn't have Iguodala's inability to create his own shot or Gay's penchant for electing for 20 foot jumpers, but it's hard to see how they could have thought his effort wasn't enough.

McGee makes sense, from the perspective of needing a more well-rounded offensive attack at center. Except why then is Tyson Chandler likely to start? Terrific defender, no doubt, but his injury issues have to be a concern (even more so for the Mavs), and unless Chris Paul is lobbing him alley-oops from the other side of the planet, his offensive weaponry is largely a bust. Green was put on roster, despite being a perimeter stretch four among a sea of great three point shooters. Wouldn't McGee's energy and size been a better fit for the roster?

Mayo, however, makes up the most egregious exclusion. Apparently the plan is to throw out multiple point guard lineups and have the other spread the floor. Except that Rondo's not a tremendous three point shooter. But they did throw in Eric Gordon. Who Mayo has shown to be better at in nearly every relevant shooting and scoring category. Considering Gordon's size, defense can't be the reason. In the end, you have to wonder if this was simply a case of Mayo not being a "Coach K kind of guy" and with no real advocate on roster, fell to the side. Either that or he suffered an injury. It just seems odd to have a plan of versatile fast shooters, then leave one at home.

But then, the man did win Gold two years ago, so obviously he knows a thing or two about what he's doing. We'll see if he can pull it off without the monster-roster he had then.

The next round of cuts should come next month before the team leaves for Europe in a series of warm-up matches to the World Championships.
Posted on: July 21, 2010 3:44 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2010 6:45 pm
 

David Lee out 4-6 weeks

Posted by Royce Young

And Team USA is dealt another blow. Yesterday was news Amar'e Stoudemire is out for the World Championships in Turkey. Today, it's David Lee.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Lee is out 4-6 weeks with a dislocated finger and will miss the World games. Coach K did say he will be ready for the start of the NBA season though, so you can put that hammer down Warrior fans.

Lee hurt the finger on the first day of training camp. He injured it by smashing it against the backboard trying to block a shot.

What does this mean for Team USA? It means a guy like Jeff Green might have a much better shot at making the team. The U.S. is very thin on the front line right now, but a little guard heavy. Just this past week, the USA lost Stoudemire, Al Jefferson, Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge. Right now, the true frontliners left are Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love. So guys like Green and Lamar Odom are definitely going to have some added value because of their versatility.

There's a lot of talent in the backcourt however, but with big men dropping out like flies, help is needed. We may see some interesting lineups with players like Kevin Durant or Rudy Gay playing the 4. Which honestly, that's cool with me because those wil be some fun lineups. Can you picture a group of Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, Rudy Gay, Kevin Durant and Brook Lopez? I can and it sounds awesome. Well, awesomely talented at least.

Posted on: July 20, 2010 8:48 pm
 

David Lee injured at Team USA practice

Posted by Matt Moore

Team USA might as well swap out Coach K for Don Nelson. Because small ball is pretty much guaranteed at this point. 

David Lee, fresh off his huge new contract with Golden State, was injured in Team USA practice Tuesday, Chris Tomasson of FanHouse reported . Lee injured his finger attempting to block a shot and jammed his finger against the backboard.  Lee told Chris Sheridan that he was returning to Oakland immediately for medical evaluation and that "It's possibly a tendon or a dislocation of some sort."

The news is bad all around. Team USA loses another big after losing Al Jefferson, Amar'e Stoudemire, Robin Lopez, and LaMarus Aldridge in the past week. At this rate, Tyreke Evans will be starting at center by Sunday. Which is okay, since he's probably still better than anyone else at that position anyway. (Not really.)

For the Warriors, the news could be much worse. The finger will likely heal by training camp and it not being on his shooting hand makes a huge difference. It's not great considering the money and assets they surrendered for him, but in the grand context of Warrior disaster, this could have been considerably worse.

We'll keep you posted on Lee's replacement for Team USA and his diagnosis, which should be available Wednesday.


 
 
 
 
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