Tag: Mike Krzyzewski

Video: Russell Westbrook’s monster dunk all over Argentina


Pity Juan Gutiérrez.

He didn’t do anything wrong save be near the rim when Russell Westbrook decided to launch himself and put a monster throwdown on Argentina during the United States’ second half run to put the game away. This may well be the dunk of the Olympics, the kind of thing you should enjoy over and over again. Unless you are a friend of Gutiérrez.

By the way, Westbrook got a taunting technical for the aftermath of this.

Hat tip to The Big Lead (they also have Carmelo Anthony taking an unfortunate hit during the game).

Quick look at opening Olympic medal round games

Olympics Day 10 - Basketball

Finally, we are done with the “everyone gets to play” portion of Olympic basketball. Time to get on with it.

Eight teams remain in the win-or-go home medal round tournament starting Wednesday. The matchups are set after Brazil knocked off Spain (with Spain sitting key players in the fourth) and a surprise that didn’t matter (Australia over Russia).

Here is a quick look at what is to come:

USA vs. Australia: This is a game the USA should win handily. Not Nigeria handily, but more like France handily. Australia is led by everyone’s favorite underdog Patty Mills, who hit the game-winning three against Russia Wednesday. Mills led St. Mary’s to college the NCAA tournament and has played in Portland and, last season, San Antonio. He’s fun to watch, and has averaged 20.6 points per game during the Olympics, but overmatched in this one. Australia has had a good Olympics, especially considering Andrew Bogut couldn’t play. They upset Russia and made it out of the group stage. That’s going to have to be enough.

Brazil vs. Argentina: Two South American rivals that know each other very well and this likely is the best game of the next round. Brazil has real size with Nene (who missed the team’s last game with more plantar fasciitis, which bothered him last NBA season, too) and Tiago Splitter. But their best player the last couple of games has been Leandro Barbosa, who is trying to get an NBA contract. Argentina has a lot of NBA talent — Manu Ginobili has been amazing through the games and Luis Scola is outscoring him — but they have been inconsistent — they lost to France, they struggled against Nigeria and they had a terrible second half against the United States Monday. I’d say which Argentinian team shows up will determine the outcome.

France vs. Spain: France has been underrated good — Tony Parker has played into his conditioning and is scoring 15.8 a game while controlling the offense. Nicolas Batum has been dropping 16.8 per game and playing good wing defense. Other guys like former Sonic Mickael Gelabale and Nando De Colo have stepped up at key spots. They have been a good offensive team. But they are not as talented as Spain who roles out Pau Gasol (20.6 points per game in the Olympics), Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernandez and other stars. But from the tune-ups through two losses in group play (although they kind of mailed in the end of the Brazil game, some might say tanked) they have just not been right. If Spain can find their old groove they will win this one, but if they are just half a step slow France is playing very well.

Russia vs. Lithuania: Russia won Group B and looked very good, maybe the second best team in the games, so we’re willing to write off the meaningless loss to Australia Monday. Andrei Kirilenko has averaged 18.2 points per game, and fellow soon-to-be Timberwolves player Aleksey Shved has averaged a dozen a game. But Lithuania is the kind of veteran team that can make a real contest of it if Russia is not focused — just like Lithuania did against the United States. There is a chance of an upset, but the Russians are going to have to help cause their own doom.

USA plays one good half, that’s enough to beat Argentina handily

London Olympics Basketball Men

If the USA can play the next four games like they played the second half against Argentina, they will cruise to a gold medal.

Let’s just forget about the six quarters before that, shall we?

After a sloppy first half of the defensive end and a lot of three point shots, Team USA got it together on both ends in the third quarter to win it 42-17 and cruised from there to a 126-97 win over Argentina. The USA is 5-0 and finishes in first place in Group A.

Their reward is they start the sudden-death medal round against an Australian side they should be able to overwhelm, with the game Wednesday at 5:15 ET (on the NBC Sports Network). Argentina (3-2) finishes third in Group A and will face South American rival Brazil in the first game of the medal round.

The first half just had to be frustrating for Team USA. Because it was for their fans — it did not look like they learned the lessons of the close game against Lithuania two days before.

Team USA hit 7 threes in first quarter, including a Kevin Durant shot at the buzzer, but led only 34-32 because their defense was flat-footed again. All the issues players said they recognized and rectified from the Lithuania game resurfaced — Argentina shot 65 percent in the first quarter, led by Manu Ginobili with 9 (and he was just getting started).

At the half it was 60-59 USA and Ginobili had 16 for Argentina (he would not score in the second half). Just as disturbing for the Americans was Argentina was without Knicks point guard Pablo Prigioni (kidney stones) and Luis Scola had not set foot on the court in the second quarter. The USA was barely beating and Argentina team playing with one hand tied behind their back.

USA shot 9-of-22 from three in the first half — that is not a bad percentage (40.9%) but it shows they could not or would not take the ball inside. The looks from three were often good, very open ones. But still, 22 in a half.

The USA team that came out in the second half looked like the USA side that rolled through its first three games, the one USA fans expect to see. A team that imposed its will (particularly on defense and at the rim) with its superior athleticism.

It started because LeBron James had 9 early third quarter points (on his way to finishing with 18. He set a tone, hitting a three and making a play in the post.

Then the Kevin Durant show started. He had 17 points in the third quarter — as many as the entire Argentinian team in that stretch. He was 8-of-10 from three for the game and finished with 28.

More important, the USA’s hounding defense was back — they weren’t gambling they were harassing. Pressuring. Andre Iguodala was making his presence felt, the USA was controlling the paint and glass.

Pretty soon the USA’s lead was blowing up and Argentina started to take it foot off the gas pedal — they have an older team and were locked into the third seed. They decided to rest not challenge the USA late.

It’s a good bit of momentum, something they can take into the medal round against Australia. That is another team they can overwhelm and build up confidence against. It’s another game they should win handily.

Hopefully that doesn’t lead to bad habits establishing themselves again. Because now things get serious. Now it is lose and go home, and more quarters like the six before the final two against Argentina could spell trouble for the USA.

USA’s defense, outside shooting needs to return vs. Argentina

US forward LeBron James (L), guard Kobe
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Argentina is in some way a better version of the Lithuanian team that gave the USA trouble on Saturday — more talented but with that same experienced veteran savvy that exposed the American’s mistakes.

But that’s really what Monday is about — has the USA learned from its mistakes as it heads to the medal round? Team USA faces Argentina in the final game of Group A play, starting at 5:15 Eastern Monday.

It’s not really about this game for Team USA — Argentina would need to beat the Americans by 110 points to win Group A. Team USA is the top seed heading into the medal round. But Argentina can be the two-seed with a win (beating out France because the tie breaker is total point differential and they are 65 points ahead in that category).

Argentina will be the more desperate side, but still it’s not about Argentina. It’s about team USA. It’s about them executing better, particularly on defense. It’s about them playing as one.

“We played a couple of games where we were able to jump all over the passing lanes and a little bit of bad habits creep in,” Tyson Chandler told ProBasketballTalk. “And then you play a game like Lithuania and those bad habits are exposed. But the great thing is they are exposed and we came away with a win. It was a learning thing for us. Now we go out and make the adjustments.”

Team USA had that same kind of game against Argentina in a tune-up to the Olympics. To open the game Kevin Durant was knocking down threes (he finished with 27 points) and Team USA started out 7-of-7 from the field. The USA had 13 fast break points in the first half. They overwhelmed Argentina and had a double-digit lead minutes into the game.

But Argentina kept moving the ball and stuck with their game plan to grind the game down to a crawl. It worked. They got back on defense to take away the easy fast break points that fuels Team USA. Argentina packed the paint on defense, went under picks and dared the USA to shoot jumpers. The Americans shot better than they did against Lithuania (31 percent on Saturday, nearly 39 percent against Argentina) but it wasn’t enough.
The USA would make a run, Argentina would grind it down — all the way down to a four-point USA lead inside of three minutes left in the game.

No team has knocked off the USA yet and no team will without some help from the Americans. They have to be off on defense and missing their outside shots.

But the formula to beat the USA is out there and Argentina will be the latest to use it. We’ll see if the Americans have learned their lessons from Lithuania about how to avoid it.

Tyson Chandler says USA going to break bad habits Lithuania exposed

Chandler of the U.S. blocks the shot of Nigeria's Diogu during their men's preliminary round Group A basketball match at the Basketball Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games
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There were back cuts. There was poor transition defense. There were American defenders giving up position to gamble for a steal and being exposed.

There were a few reasons Team USA struggled with Lithuania on Saturday — ice cold shooting from three is at the top of the list — but for a team that prides itself on defense, Team USA didn’t play it well.

USA starting center Tyson Chandler owned up to that speaking with PBT from the Gillette Lounge in Procter & Gamble Family Home in London. The guy that is out there to help organize and backstop the USA’s defense said that the previous two games caught up to them against Lithuania.

“We had a down night,” Chandler said in an exclusive interview with ProBasketballTalk. “We got beat off the dribble way too much, and our execution was poor defensively, and our communication was poor. So it was one of those nights and we struggled offensively but we got to learn with a victory….

“We want to be able go for steals and do that while still being solid. You don’t want to gamble without reason… We played a couple of games where we were able to jump all over the passing lanes and a little bit of bad habits creep in. And then you play a game like Lithuania and those bad habits are exposed. But the great thing is they are exposed and we came away with a win. It was a learning thing for us. Now we go out and make the adjustments”

Chandler has not been able to backstop the American defense as much as hoped these Olympics (12 minutes per game) because Coach J has gone small a lot and because of foul trouble at times. Foul trouble in part because  FIBA officiating is… inconsistent. That’s a word we can use on a family blog. Inconsistent.

“It’s an adjustment, you adjust every game. You learn game by game, you just have to adjust…” Chandler said diplomatically of the officiating. “An athletes job is to try to adjust to the way the game is being called. It’s very important that while we are on the floor we keep our composure and that we represent our country in the correct fashion. Because it’s not just the image we put off for ourselves, it’s about representing our country.”

Chandler spoke a lot about representing his country and how much that mattered to him. Composure on the court and acting like grown men is certainly part of that. But the other part is winning.

Lithuania was just the first of some real tests for the USA coming up, starting with Argentina on Monday.

“We understand we are into the thick of things now, it really begins now,” Chandler said. “Argentina is going to be a tough game and after that it’s the medal round, so things are going to pick up and get more intense. This is what we have all been waiting for.”

Is there a pressure on the team to win gold? Heck yes. Anything short will be viewed as a failure. But Chandler tries not to look at it that way.

“You don’t feel the pressure to go out and win a gold or something like that, you feel the pressure to go out and represent your country in the correct fashion… We also know we have the ability to inspire the next generation. We’ve seen how the game of basketball has evolved since the 1992 Olympics when the dream team was assembled… a lot of the kids who were inspired by that are in our league today.”

Chandler also talked about wanting to inspire his young children. He was hanging out in the Procter & Gamble Family Home, on the day they were celebrating Olympic dads (which you can like on Facebook).

“We’re enjoying the festivities, and I’m looking forward to 10 years from now being able to break back out the footage and sharing with them what all of this meant,” Chandler said.

Especially if he can also break out a gold medal to show them.