Tuesday, August 31, 2010

USA 70, Brazil 68

Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant (USA Basketball, Nike)

In many ways, today’s USA/Brazil game was a typical Team USA game. The Americans overcame sloppy play (22 turnovers) and poor outside shooting (2-of-11) from all players not named Kevin Durant, and survived against the Brazilians, who had every chance to steal a win against the superior talent of Team USA. But Leandro Barbosa went cold in the second half, finishing 3-of-13 from 3PT after a hot start, and Brazil came up short.

Outside of Durant (27 points, 10 rebounds) and maybe Chauncey Billups (15 points) and Derrick Rose (11 points), this team is a mess. The bench managed a paltry six points, but Coach K leaned heavily on his starters, playing each guy a minimum of 29 minutes. (Durant played 39 minutes.) There was little or no offensive movement, leaving Durant, Billups and Rose to create on their own. How a team with this much talent can turn the ball over 22 times in 40 minutes is mind-boggling.

Moreover, there was little to no enthusiasm from the U.S. bench, while the Brazilians were standing and cheering their teammates throughout the game. At one point, I think Danny Granger (zero minutes) fell asleep. (Kidding. Not really.) They played hard enough defensively, and even though they gave up a ton of open shots, they eventually wore the Brazilians down.

One reason I tuned in was to see the Spurs new center, Tiago Splitter, who Fran Fraschilla called the best center in Europe. He’s 25, moves well for his size, and has a pretty nice jump hook with both the right and the left hands. I suspect he’ll be in foul trouble for the entire month of November as he figures out how NBA officials are going to call the game, but he has the potential to be as good as any center Tim Duncan has played with since David Robinson. (I realize that’s not saying a whole lot.)

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