The toughest challenge of the Olympic tournament thus far for the United States is this morning against Greece.
It is a little disappointing to see how flat the team has come out in what should be an emotional game against the team that beat us in the world championship in 2006. Not a lot of fire being displayed early.
4-4 - Jason Kidd apparently offended the officials prior to the start of the game and proceeded to pick up three touch fouls in the first 90 seconds prompting analyst Doug Collins to “compliment” the Greeks for “selling the calls like you often see players do in soccer.” Curious early officiating continued with Kobe Bryant being called for an unsportsmanlike (flagrant) foul on a reach-in foul 90 feet from the basket.
7-11 Greece - Most interesting to me so far is how much on our side the crowd in China is. I would have expected the big bad Americans to be cheered against vociferously, as we were in Athens, but the crowd is solidly in our corner, as they have been the entire tournament.
15-14 US – Chris Bosh just took a charge from what appears to be Robert “Tractor” Traylor’s twin brother, but with about 50 extra pounds.
20-16 US – I love this Chris Paul, Derron Williams, Dwayne Wade combination. After a year struggling through the NBA season with injuries it appears that Wade is back in a big way. He’s been the best player on team USA in the Olympics.
End First Quarter
22-16 US – Dwayne Wade knocks the ball away, and while falling out of bounds on a dead sprint throws a beautiful alley-oop to Kobe Bryant, causing me to yell out loud and scare the neighbors.
24-18 US – I don’t mean to belabor the point, but Wade is just making plays all over the place. Three U.S. dunks in a row off feeds by Wade, two of which came after steals he made. He has sparked his teammates, who seem to be playing with a lot more emotion now.
36-26 US – Kobe Bryant can’t hit a jump shot to save his life. Also, I’m loving the lack of commercials in this coverage.
38-30 US – The Greeks are a very typical foreign team. They handle the ball well, shoot it well, and are knowledgeable, scrappy, and not particularly athletic.
Athleticism is our advantage as a country. We don’t shoot, pass, or dribble better than these other top countries anymore. Our players are more athletic though, and that difference should be obvious on the defensive end. We should be out pressuring the ball at every opportunity, forcing turnovers, and upping the tempo.
46-30 US – Nasty steal and reverse dunk by LeBron.The Greeks are getting frustrated and have started complaining to the officials and arguing with each other.
51-32 US – Bosh ends the half by blocking the three-point attempt of a Greek player, perfectly summarizing the last three minutes where he dominated defensively both inside and on the perimeter.
End Second Quarter
The US team is starting to play fast and loose with the ball, allowing the Greeks to climb back into it a bit. There’s a big difference between up-tempo basketball and reckless basketball, which is what we’ve been playing most of the second half so far.
65-47 US – LeBron is blocking shots left and right. The Greeks are starting to lose interest in driving to the basket, preferring to kick out for jump shots with less embarrassing possibilities. Bald referee continues to make curious calls on both ends. Dick Bavetta’s foreign brother?
74-54 US – Chris Paul drives and dishes to Wade for another basket to close the third quarter. Wade’s got 17, but it feels like more.
End Third Quarter
80-57 US – We’re getting into garbage time now, with the outcome of the game no longer in doubt. Tayshaun Prince and Michael Redd have come in for the last seven minutes of the game. Deron Williams gets tackled to the floor and falls out of bounds with no call. Everyone, officials included, just wants to get this game over with quickly.
82-58 US – Wade checks out of the game and finishes with 17 points, six steals and five assists, winning the official Baksetball.org player of the game honors.
Final Score: 92-69 US.
I’m happy to see we didn’t just squeak by in this game, but rather sent a message that this team is not going to be satisfied losing to anyone. Next up is another top Euro team in Spain, featuring the Gasol brothers.