USA Fights Off Australia 87-76, Concludes Tour With 5-0 Record
Led by a balanced offensive effort that saw Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) pump in 22 points and three other U.S. team members score in double digits, the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team (5-0) fought off a determined Australian squad 87-76 Tuesday night in Shanghai in the team’s final warm-up game before opening Olympic play Aug. 10 in Beijing against host China.
Also aiding the USA cause were LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), 16 points; Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), 13 points; Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) recorded a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds; Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors) added nine points and Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic) scored eight.
“Well Australia played us very well. We were not shooting well, and their defense took away a lot of driving areas. They got really hot (shooting) in the second half to put a lot of game pressure on our guys and I thought our guys handled it well on a night where from the free throw line or from the 3-point things were not easy for us,” said USA and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“We’re still in the process of getting prepared (for the Olympics). We’ve played four games in six days and we gave them off yesterday just because were trying to pace ourselves. Probably that lack of practice had a little bit of an impact on our performance. I didn’t think we were as sharp as we have been and the three days that we can have practice in Beijing have to be three good practice days in order to get us going. We’ve been playing outstanding basketball and tonight I didn’t think we played very well, or not up to what we can play.”
The USA found itself in a 17-13 hole with 2:53 to play in the opening stanza, but after tightening things up, the red, white and blue closed the quarter with a 9-2 run to secure a 22-19 lead after one period of play.
The USA lead was back to a single point, 26-25, following a drive and hoop from Australia’s Brad Newley, however James took over and broke the game open scoring eight points in a 12-0 run that ballooned the American's lead to 38-25.
At halftime, the U.S. had its biggest lead of the first half 44-29. The U.S. defense again led the way limiting the Aussies to 4-of-14 shooting in the second quarter while pressuring them to cough up the ball eight times.
Australia open the third quarter on fire and behind three 3-pointers, two coming from David Barlow, outscored the U.S. 13-2 to close the gap to 46-42 with 6:52 remaining in the third.
Anthony nailed a jumper that launched the U.S. on a mini 7-2 offensive run that cushioned the USA lead to 53-44 and at the end of the third, the lead stood at 10, 65-55.
The USA advantage in the fourth quarter ranged between seven points (71-64 at 5:24) and 16 points (84-68 at 1:56), and the score ended 87-76, but only after Australia managed to outscore the U.S. 8-3 over the final 1:50.
“Australia played well, our defense wasn't crisp early on. They knocked down their shots and really made us work for the game. It was actually a good game for us, and we knew from the jump that they’d come out really physical. You can make whatever you want from it, we’re still growing, we’ll get better as each game goes on,” said the game’s high scorer Wade.
The USA shot a respectable 50.8% from the floor for the night, but managed a frigid 3-of-18 from 3-point and further hindered its cause shooting just 20-for-33 from the foul line.
Five Aussies scored in double digits, led by 13 points from Chris Anstey and Saint Mary’s University guard Patrick Mills. Barlow finished with 12, while CJ Bruton and Newley each tossed in 11 points.
In its five exhibition games, the U.S. averaged 106.0 ppg., and owned a 31.0 ppg. margin of victory. The U.S. shot 61.6% from the field, 41.3% from 3-point and 70.0% from the foul line, while limiting its opponents to 41.2% shooting overall, 37.0% from 3-point.
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.