UPDATE 8:30 pm: Looks like when Team USA hops on a plane for exhibition “friendlies” in Europe next week, they will bring more than the 12 they can suit up in Turkey. That’s what Coach K told ESPN:
“The chances of us having more than 12 on the plane Monday are good, but
it may be one more than 12, or two more than 12,” coach Mike Krzyzewski
said. “What we’re trying to do is see how Lamar (Odom) and even (Kevin)
Love do there at the center spot. The 3 spot and the 4 spot with
(Kevin) Durant, (Rudy) Gay, (Danny) Granger and (Andre) Iguodala is
pretty solid, and the 5 with those two guys (Chandler and Odom) is good.
Smart money is JaVale McGee makes the trip only as Tyson Chandler injury insurance. As for what to do at the guard spot, that’s a tough one.
5:37 pm: If this part of the Team USA summer is about building confidence before going to Turkey, mission accomplished on Saturday.
Team USA held a scrimmage against China at Madison Square Garden. While the scrimmage was set up so that the score reset at the end if each quarter, but if you had not done that the final would have been USA 98, China 51. I don’t care if China didn’t have Yao Ming, that’s good work.
I am not in New York for the fun, nor did I get to watch this game live (Sunday’s game against France is televised), but we got good reports thanks to John Schuhmann of NBA.com, Michael Lee of the Washington Post, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and Chris Tomasson of FanHouse. Here are a few notes.
* It was supposed to be Danny Granger and Jeff Green fighting it out for one forward spot on the roster. Well, it’s Granger’s. He led all scorers on Team USA with 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting. He was lighting it up inside and out. Green didn’t even get in the game. Granger is the kind of underappreciated player who could break out on the international stage this summer.
* The other guy who did not get in? JaVale McGee. Meanwhile the USA ran some lineups with Lamar Odom at center. All a sign that McGee may also be among the three cuts. Hard to give up the only other real center on the roster but the team may go that way.
* The third cut was long assumed to be Eric Gordon, as he and sharpshooter Stephen Curry are basically fighting for the same roster spot. But Gordon just keeps playing well. Team USA just started Rajon Rondo today and likely will not trim Russell Westbrook. If Gordon goes it’s a pure numbers game, not because of his play.
* The USA started in the first quarter Chauncey Billups, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Tyson Chandler.
* The USA’s ball pressure was far too much for China, who coughed it up all game. They had nine turnovers in the second quarter alone.
* The USA was running every chance they got. They must. Defense and transition is how this USA team will win.
* Great note from Schuhmann:
Midway through the quarter, China was in a zone and their coach Bob
Donewald Jr. shouted out “Back off 41! Not a shooter!” No. 41 is Derrick
Rose, and he promptly nailed a wide-open three from the right wing.
* China’s best player was former Laker Sun Yue.
* Sunday the USA takes on France in a more traditional scrimmage, starting at 1 pm Eastern.