Team USA defeated France 98-71 in its first Olympic preliminary round matchup on Sunday afternoon. They led by as many as 29 points in the fourth quarter before inserting their reserves to finish things off.
The US didn’t start out so great. In what ended up being a laugher, the US played poorly in a first quarter that included a horrid 29% field-goal percentage and only led by one point. Tony Parker penetrated and scored at will.
In the second quarter, though, things took a quick turn back to what was expected. With Parker on the bench the US jumped out with an 11-0 run to start the quarter. They never looked back.
The US used their exhausting pressure defense to stifle France’s offense. By half-time they had already generated six steals and caused 11 French turnovers.
In the second half, the US continued its momentum from the second quarter. They built their highest lead of the game, at the time, a 27 point advantage during the third quarter.
Check out this SICK alley-oop from Deron Williams to LeBron James!
How about this 60-foot bounce pass from LeBron James to Kevin Durant resulting in a slam dunk!
It was over when
Despite a slow and steady first quarter, Team USA is a far deeper and more talented team than the French squad. They pulled away after some adjustments and the inevitable resting of Tony Parker.
Tweets of the Day
Kevin Love lets everyone know Team USA is about to begin their Olympic play:
The journey starts today.— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) July 29, 2012
Tony Parker was firing on all cylinders in the first quarter:
apparently team France's playbook reads, give the ball to Tony Parker, then clear out of the way— Patrick Sandusky (@PatrickSandusky) July 29, 2012
A commenter weighed in on what he feels LeBron James can improve on:
LeBron isn't that good. I mean, he can't even fly. Ok, fine, he can kinda fly.— Jeff Nomina (@Nominataur) July 29, 2012
Bill Simmons mused about the “star calls” LeBron James gets in the NBA:
LeBron just bowled over Pietrus for an offensive foul, or as it was called in the 2012 playoffs, "a block on Pietrus." (Sorry, I had to.)— Bill Simmons (@sportsguy33) July 29, 2012
Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling said it best in the fourth quarter:
Man USA is doing some work.— Chris Roling (@Chris_Roling) July 29, 2012
Grades for Key USA Players
Bryant didn’t do very much in terms of standing out in the US men’s basketball opener. He didn’t really need to. However, he was solid and didn’t try to do TOO MUCH which is often his downfall. He ended with 10 points on 2-of-6 shooting and 4-for-4 from the foul line.
James finished with nine points, eight assists and five rebounds as he provided Team USA with his best efforts. He wasn’t looking to score but he set the tone and led his teammates to a big opening win over a French team with some competitive NBA talent on its roster.
Kevin Durant blew up big in the US win over France. He led all scorers with 22 points and showed complete dominance all over the court. He also added nine rebounds, two steals and one assist to his line.
The biggest question mark about Team USA heading into these games is its frontcourt efficiency. He had a moderately tough challenge in facing off against former teammate Ronny Turiaf. He dropped in eight points, nine rebounds and two assists in an adequate effort. More will be required of him as the team advances to the medal rounds.
Grades for Key French Players
Parker did everything that he could against the insurmountable odds of overcoming the deep and potent Team USA. While his team fell short, Parker proved why he is one of the best scoring point guards in the world. He finished with 10 points and 1 assist.
Batum was a considerable threat for the Americans but he didn’t deliver in Sundays matchup. He finished with only seven points and shot a disappointing 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.
Diaw, normally maintaining an athletic edge over his competition at the power forward position, was unable to do so with LeBron James on the court. The mobile Diaw played respectably by throwing in nine points on 4-of-8 shooting. He also hauled in 6 rebounds.
Game MVP: LeBron James
The NBA’s most valuable player brought his “A” game to the Olympic preliminary rounds. Rather than look to score, LeBron used his excellent court vision to involve the other great scorers on Team USA.
He realized he didn’t have to do everything himself and played his role perfectly in the limited time he was required to be on the court.
The US will play next against Tunisia in Olympic preliminary basketball at 10:15 p.m. (ET) on Tuesday, July 31. Tunisia is coming off of a 56-60 loss to Nigeria.
Overall, Argentina poses the biggest immediate challenge to US basketball dominance during preliminary round play. They will meet the Argentinians on Monday, August 6.
For a good time:
I don’t always tweet, but when I do it’s probably going to be about sports.