Second-Half Explosion Propels USA Men's National Team Past Great Britain, 118-78
With the USA holding a comfortable 19-point lead at halftime, Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets) ignited from deep in the third quarter to help the USA Basketball Men’s National Team (3-0) put Great Britain away for good as the Americans went on to record a dazzling, 118-78 exhibition win in front of a sold-out crowd of 16,979 on July 19 at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.
Williams finished with 19 points and five assists, including 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point, to earn Tiffany & Co. Player of the Game honors, while Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks) tallied 19 points to go with his four assists.
“What a great atmosphere,” said USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “Thank you, people of Great Britain, for providing such a great crowd. We felt very welcome in this amazing environment.
“I thought the Great Britain team played really well. Luol (Deng) is one of the better players in the world. I like their toughness. We’re much quicker than they are and it produced a lot of turnovers, and we were very unselfish tonight.”
LeBron James (Miami Heat) added 16 points and four assists, Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) scored 15 points and dished out a game-high nine dimes and Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clipper) grabbed three steals and added six assists to help the USA record 39 assists on its 47 made baskets. The Americans turned the ball over just nine times while collecting 16 steals and forcing Great Britain to cough up 26 turnovers.
“I thought it was a great game from us,” Williams said. “We’re just really using this time, these warm-up games just to find a rhythm, to find a chemistry. We’ve only been together for a short amount of time, so all these practices, these games, these warm-up games are going to do a lot to build up chemistry and build character. We’re really learning a lot about who we are and finding our roles. It was a good win tonight against a tough Great Britain team.”
Eight first-quarter points from Britain’s Pops Mensah-Bonsu helped his team nearly keep pace with the USA, which made just two of its nine field goal attempts in the game’s first 3:48, and with two free throws at 1:37, GB pulled within three points, 23-20. The momentum shifted, however, as a dunk from Anthony ignited the USA. After an alley-oop from Paul to Westbrook, Anthony nailed consecutive 3-pointers to put the USA up 33-20 after the first stanza.
The 14-0 U.S. run stretched into the second period, and the USA was up by 17 points, 37-20, when Great Britain called a timeout 8:24. Over the next two minutes, however, NBA Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng single-handedly pulled Great Britain within nine, 39-30, with 10 points on his own.
After a few scores from each team, the USA led 43-33 before it was off and running, this time on an 8-0 spurt to take a 53-31 lead at 1:45 when Durant sank two free throws. Deng halted the spree with a 3-pointer at 7:27, and at halftime the USA had a 55-37 advantage.
Williams opened the second half on fire, and after a leaning drive at 9:48, he sank three consecutive 3-pointers and then added one more less than a minute later, after a score from LeBron James (Miami Heat), and within a span of four minutes the U.S. lead had ballooned to 28 points. Seven points from Anthony and six from James over the period’s last 5:37 helped the red, white and blue outscore GB by 16 points in the third, and the scoreboard read 89-55 headed into the final 10 minutes.
“The chemistry is getting better and better with each game and each practice,” James said. “We are taking full advantage of every opportunity we get together. So, you know, it’s looking good right now.”
The highlight reel continued in the fourth quarter, including three of Anthony Davis’ four blocks and three alley-oop passes from Westbrook – one of which was slammed home on a reverse dunk by Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) that brought the crowd and the U.S. bench to their feet. Great Britain made five 3-pointers down the stretch to help prevent the contest from getting totally out of control, but when the buzzer sounded the USA had its largest win of the 2012 tour, a 118-78 blowout.
After struggling from the field in its first two exhibition wins, the USA shot 60.0 percent against Great Britain (47-78 FGs) and was dominant inside, tallying 64 points in the paint to GB’s 18, while racing to 34 fast-break points and 33 points off of turnovers. The USA’s depth was another problem for Great Britain as the USA’s bench accounted for more than half of its points at 65.
“We knocked down shots tonight,” said Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks). “I think that was the biggest difference. In the last game against Brazil, we missed so many shots. We still missed some easy buckets, but that’s just getting used to the ball and getting our timing right.”
Twenty years after the USA Dream Team made its debut in Barcelona, Spain, the U.S. returns and will conclude its tour with a pair of exhibition games against FIBA’s No. 2 and No. 3 ranked world powers. Facing No. 3 ranked Argentina on July 22 at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, the USA will close out its exhibition tour against FIBA’s No. 2 ranked power Spain on July 24 at the Palau Sant Jordi.
“Argentina will definitely be another test for us,” Anthony said. “Then of course everybody wants to see the Spain matchup, so we’re getting prepared for that.”
Along with USA assistant coaches, Syracuse University and Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim and former NBA head coaches Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan, Krzyzewski has led the USA Men’s National Team to gold medal finishes at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and 2008 Beijing Olympics.