1. USA Defeats Argentina 86-80: In a game where USA went on extreme runs of hot and cold, the Americans were able to fend off the Argentinians for a 6-point victory in Barcelona. Led by Kevin Durant’s 28 points, USA seemed to live behind the shortened three-point line, and KD kept filling it up from range. Kobe Bryant chipped in 18 and LeBron James put up another 15 points to carry Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad.
Argentina’s 3 biggest NBA stars also did well in pacing the attack, as Manu Ginobili was the team’s scoring leader with 23 points. Carlos Delfino and Luis Scola put in 15 and 14, respectively.
2. Argentina Wasn’t Concerned About Winning, I Think: There was still time for Argentina to win at the end of the game, as they were only down 6 with 35 seconds left and they ran a half-court set play and drained the majority of the shot clock. It was weird. Of course, it was an exhibition, so maybe Argentina wasn’t really interested in winning the game. Which is something totally Un-American.
Sidenote: I thoroughly enjoyed Argentina being feisty in their aggressive, and simultaneously being swarthy and egregious with their whining to the refs and flopping in football-esque (soccer, people) fashion. Loved it.
3. Those ‘92 USA Throwbacks Are Dope: Personally, I like these WAY more than the 2012 versions. Although the away jerseys with the heavy red trim are quite dope.
4. Russell Westbrook and Andre Iguodala Star In, Block Party: I love Westbrook and Iguodala on this team. On their own teams, they are forced to the front to be leaders on the scoring front, among other things. On Team USA, they can do a ton of other things that don’t directly involve scoring the rock, most notably, playing insane defense. Both pulled off crazy blocks late in the first half and helped USA push their lead on Argentina as the South Americans had clawed their way back into the contest. (Forward to 1:40 for Iggy’s rejection which leads to a Westbrook and-1 fastbreak.)
5. Does This ‘12 Team Have An Identity Issue? Personally, I found the amount of threes that Coach K’s squad fired up alarming. 34 threes against Argentina, thus making that 118 threes taken in four exhibition games for USA. Yes, I never want to be a prisoner of the moment and start being overly concerned over four exhibition games that, oh by the way, USA won. But…
…this is what I get paid to do.
Hoisting almost 30 three-pointers a game wouldn’t be so bad, you know, if this team was actually good at shooting the three. Unless Kevin Durant or Kevin Love shoots all the threes, then I’m not sure how I feel about Deron Williams and Andre Iguodala hoisting threes just because they’re open. Coach K said earlier that this is the most athletic team he’d ever seen, yet they’re out there playing like a glorified AAU team who penetrates, kicks out wide for threes and tries to get shots at the rim. Not a bad idea, but teams like Brazil (with size) and Argentina (with shooters and defenders) were able to mitigate both for USA and the Americans looked lost at times. Players hesitated repeatedly to take open mid-range shots, and do what NBA stars do, which is to reign supreme and take ownership of the game when the moment is there.
I’d expect to see Kobe Bryant to command the ball on the block more when things get tight. Maybe we’ll get to see 2012 NBA Finals LeBron come back and do the same on the block. Its advantages that no one in the world can stop, much less the international competition in London. If they get double-teamed, then kick it out to Kevin Durant for the open three.