USA Men’s World Cup Team Captures 86-55 Exhibition Victory Over France
• Box Score (PDF)
In its first official exhibition game, the 2010 USA Men’s World Championship Team outdistanced France in the second half for an 86-55 exhibition victory on Aug. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Playing in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,763 and an ESPN2 nationally televised audience, the USA squad was led by 19 points off the bench from Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies), while today’s Player of the Game Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets) scored 17 points and Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) added 14.
In the second game of the afternoon’s double-header, Carlos Arroyo scored 16 points to lead Puerto Rico past China 92-76 to close the first annual World Basketball Festival.
“Well, this is a really good experience for us,” said USA and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “It's our first game, and I thought our defense was outstanding throughout and our effort was outstanding throughout. France played well and I thought we had a little bit of jitters to start off the game. It’s the first time for most of these guys to play for our country and in a game. That’s why these exhibition games are so important for us.
“Our depth, I think we're going to find that every game there might be two different people who like today Chauncey and Rudy were outstanding. Yesterday when we scrimmaged, Granger was 9-for-12; he didn't score today but he still played hard. So that type of thing is good.”
Neither team shot well in the first quarter as each squad made just 6-of-16 for 37.5% from the field and the USA committed five of its 15 turnovers for the game. France grabbed its biggest lead of the afternoon, 15-11, near the end of the first quarter. But Gay got a fast break slam dunk from a Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) steal and assist, and after France went 1-of-2 from the line, Gay responded with a 3-pointer and by the end of the initial stanza the teams were even at 16-16.
Four players scored during the first four minutes of the second quarter as the American men tore out for an 11-3 run to move ahead for good, 29-19. France strung together a 7-2 run to close to within three points, 29-26, with a little over four minutes to play before halftime, but that’s as close as the Euros would come to threatening to regain the lead. Finishing off the quarter with a 10-4 spurt, at halftime the U.S. lead had expanded to 39-30.
“(Coach told us) just to continue to play solid (at halftime),” said USA center Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks). “Continue to allow our defense to turn into offense. In the game the other day, we did a good job of kind of playing simple defense. And not doing so much gambling. And we gambled at the right times. I think tonight we did that. That’s why we were able to bust the lead open.”
And bust the lead open is exactly what the USA did in the third period.
Billups hit a pair of threes as the red, white and blue expanded its lead to 49-34 to open the second half. France’s Boris Diaw, who scored a team-high 15 points, tossed in an 8-foot hook shot at 6:10 and the scoreboard read 49-36. Sparked by a pair of traditional 3-point plays from Billups and Durant, the home team posted a 10-4 run and the lead was slowly getting out of reach, 59-40.
It wasn’t as if the French capitulated, they just didn’t have an answer for the rotating bursts of energy coming off the bench as Krzyzewski worked his quick guards in and out of the lineup every few minutes. With 10 minutes of play remaining, the USA still sat on a comfortable 64-46 cushion.
“No one is going to play over 20 minutes here,” said guard Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics), who dished out six of the USA’s 16 assists and scored six points. “So, you have to go all out. Not that I’m pacing myself like in the NBA games. It’s a long season. This is only nine games. We have six guards here, five are points and a combo. For the most part I'm trying to go all out. I’m coming out within four minutes.”
After a put-back by Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers), Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) connected with nearly identical back-to-back plays – both fast breaks with a long heave from Rose to Gay, who brought the crowd to their feet with a pair of highlight-reel dunks.
The USA, which finished the afternoon with 12 steals on 21 French turnovers, outscored France 22-9 in the fourth quarter, after closing the game on a 9-3 run.
“The one thing I thought we did a better job of for the most part today was not turning the ball over as much as we have in the past, not knowing where guys want to be at,” said Billups. “But we did a pretty good job of not turning over as much. So the more we can get a little more cohesive, the more that number comes down, and we're getting shots instead of turning the ball over, we're going to be dangerous, man.”
The smaller U.S. squad scored 48 points in the paint, compared to France’s 24, and outrebounded France by a narrow 34-31 margin. After starting off with cold shooting over the first 10 minutes the hosts, who scored 20 fast break points and held France to just one fast break bucket, shot 50.7% from the field (34-67 FGs) and limited their foes to just 34.9% (22-63 FGs).
“The main thing we like about it is the fact that we can keep up constant pressure defensively,” said Coach K. “Because of our lack of size, or bulk, we're all going to have to rebound. And so a guard is not only pressuring the ball, the guards are rebounding the ball. A couple of our fast breaks came as a result of guard rebounds.”
The 2010 USA World Championship Team assistant coaches are Syracuse University’s Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan and Toronto Raptors head mentor Jay Triano.
The 13 finalists for the 2010 USA World Championship Team are scheduled to travel Monday to Madrid, Spain, where they will practice Aug. 17-20. Following Sunday’s exhibition contest at Madison Square Garden versus France, the USA will also play three world basketball powers in exhibition games, or “friendlies,” in preparation for the 2010 FIBA World Championship. In advance of that tournament, the Americans will meet Lithuania on Aug. 21 and Spain on Aug. 22 in Madrid and play Greece in Athens on Aug. 25.
“I thought our defense kept us in the ballgame part of the second quarter, and then for the rest of the game I thought we really played well offensively and ran good half-court offense,” added Krzyzewski. “So to me it was a very successful afternoon for us. We're looking forward to leaving tomorrow and going to Spain and trying to get better there.”
All of these friendlies are part of the new Global Community Cup, which will include all USA Basketball exhibition games played outside of formal international competitions. Along with the games, the Global Community Cup features a social responsibility element that will highlight USA Basketball’s commitment to giving back to communities in the U.S. and abroad.
The official 12-man USA roster that will compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, which will be played Aug. 28-Sept. 12 in Turkey, must be submitted to FIBA at the technical meeting that normally is held the day prior to the start of the competition.