USA Basketball Men’s National Team Overpowers Canada 120-65
Shooting lights-out in their only domestic exhibition contest, six players scored in double digits, including three with 20 points apiece as the 2008 USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team (1-0) opened its five-game exhibition series with a 120-65 victory over Canada on July 28 in the 2008 State Farm USA Basketball Challenge.
Played in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,498 fans at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev., and an ESPN nationally televised audience, the USA was led by 20 points each from Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets), Michael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks) and Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat). The fan favorites also received 15 points from Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Deron Williams (Utah Jazz) notched 14 and Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets) tossed in 11 points and dished out eight assists.
“I thought for our fifth day of practice we showed a lot of energy, guys are committed to playing defense,” said USA and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team forced 24 Canadian turnovers. “I thought playing Canada, although we’re deeper than they are and a little bit bigger, the fact that they’ve been together for a while was really good for us. Their point guard did a good job against our pressure, so that was good to go against a veteran point guard, especially one that can shoot. I like the effort we have on the defensive end of the court and after the first 10 minutes, that’s the first game we played, we just seemed like we were in synch, we were passing the ball more, and playing much better defense the last three quarters.”
Canada struck first but the U.S. soon overtook its neighbor to the north on a Wade three at 8:54 to give the USA a 5-2 lead and the home team never again trailed. The red, white and blue spent the first quarter getting warmed up and at the first break the U.S. was up 30-24.
It didn’t take much longer for the Beijing medal favorite, to assert its dominance over Canada, a team that narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
In the first two minutes of the second period the USA built a double-digit pillow as it pulled away from the visitors 35-25. With its running game starting to take hold and the passes hitting their marks, the U.S. expanded its lead to 47-32 with 4:05 to play in the opening half. With 2:10 to go in the half and the USA’s lead up to 52-35, the squad capped the first half on a 9-3 spurt that put the game virtually in the books, 61-38.
“It was fun, especially to be out on the court with all these great players,” said Redd. “Getting a rhythm like we had last summer is important. Tonight was pretty good.”
The second half turned into a highlight reel of no-look passes, steals, transition buckets and fierce dunks as the United States outscored Canada 24-18 in the third quarter and 25-9 in the fourth for the eventual exhibition win.
“There were some things we did well and there are some things we can work on, but the best thing is that we played together, and did it at both ends of the court,” said Wade. “We got after them defensively and when LeBron comes back it’s going to make us even more explosive as a team.”
Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic) grabbed a team-high seven of the USA’s 38 boards and Anthony collected six.
Shooting a deadly 65.7% from the field, behind 6-of-8 shooting from Redd from behind the 3-point line, the Americans made 50% from 3-point land (11-22 3pt FGs). The USA’s defensive showing was equally impressive as its offensive effort. Limiting Canada to 33.3% of its attempts overall and 39.1 from beyond the arc, the U.S. also forced 24 Canada turnovers.
Canada’s Jermaine Anderson led his side with 18 points, while Rowan Barrett and Carl English each posted 11 points.
The United States will play four additional games in the USA Basketball International Challenge that will see the USA play two games in Macao, China, and two more games in Shanghai, China.
Serving as 2008 USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team assistant coaches are Syracuse University and Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, New York Knicks head mentor Mike D’Antoni and Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan.