If Thursday’s game in Manchester is any indication Great Britain is going to be a lovely host for the 2012 Olympic Games.
They rolled out the red carpet for Team USA and by the end of the first quarter pretty much rolled over for Team USA, which went on to rout GBR 118-78 in a pre-Olympics exhibition. As a side note, this makes Team USA 52-1 under coach Mike Krzyzewski.
The game itself was never going to be that interesting, GBR has Luol Deng, “Pops” Mensah-Bonsu, and Joel Freeland, then a bunch of guys. No offense to the guys but the USA has Anthony Davis as the last guy on the bench, this was over before it started.
The only interesting thing is that Mike Krzyzewski rewarded Deron Williams and Kevin Durant for their strong play in the first two games by starting them and moving Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul to the bench. Williams continued to play brilliantly and had 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting (5-of-6 from three) plus five dimes. Durant just had an off night — in the first quarter he missed a dunk and a layup back-to-back — and finished with 13 points but needed 12 shots to get there.
It will be interesting to see if Coach K sticks with this lineup and how it plays out in more challenging upcoming tune-ups against Argentina and Spain.
For this game, they could have subbed your or me into the starting lineup and it wouldn’t have mattered. So don’t read much into it.
Like a lot of Team USA’s games this tournament, it was a case where a pumped up group of starters for Great Britain — and they have some talent — could hang around with the USA for most of a quarter. But the USA is deep with athletes and talent that will wear all but a handful of teams in the world down.
In this case, it was Carmelo Anthony coming off the bench with the hot hand to spark a late first-quarter run. The thing I love about Carmelo in the international game and on this team is that he works off the ball and defers. He finished with 19 points on 10 shots.
Russell Westbrook also stood out with 15 points and 9 assists. No athletes like him on the GBR team. No athletes quite like him on any team.
GBR could not handle the USA’s ball pressure, and as the game wore on the hosts had 26 turnovers, which turned the end of the game into a Team USA dunking exhibition.
Which was fun, but the games against Spain and Argentina in Barcelona starting Sunday are far more interesting tests. Things like Kevin Love’s unimpressive defense in this game would take on a new tone in those contests.