USA Men Take Down Spain 100-78
Fueled by game high 27 points from Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks) and 25 more from LeBron James (Miami Heat), the 2012 USA Basketball Men’s National Team (5-0) placed an exclamation point on its 2012 tour with a commanding 100-78 win over host and No. 2 ranked world power Spain at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Spain.
The final game of the USA’s 2012 National Team tour, the win improved the USA’s record to 5-0. Since filling its National Team rosters with NBA stars in 1992, USA Basketball national teams have now compiled a 42-1 mark in exhibition games, including 20 victories in a row.
“I thought we played extremely well. Carmelo (Anthony) was sensational. I thought his play in the first quarter and second period was the difference in the game,” said Mike Krzyzewski, USA and Duke University head coach. “Carmelo kind of kept us in it and our bench kept us in. We got a really good performance from Kevin Love - double-figure rebounds. We shared the ball well in the second half. We were very pleased with the win.”
Struggling to find its shooting eye early, the U.S. fell behind 10-3 before the game was three minutes old.
After Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks) went to the bench after picking up his second foul before the midway point in the opening quarter, Anthony came in off the bench and delivered a much needed offensive spark. Drilling back-to-back 3-pointers to get the U.S. offense rolling, the USA closed the deficit to 12-9 with 4:40 left in the quarter.
“I think we came out a little bit too focused, a little bit overzealous at the beginning and they jumped on us quick,” remarked Anthony. “They came out with a lot of intensity and got a some easy shots, easy baskets. Once we settled down and made a couple plays defensively, got back to our comfort zone, we didn’t look back from there.”
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaki pumped in 10 straight points for the Spaniards and following a basket by Victor Sada, the hosts, to the delight of their sold-out home crowd, were enjoying a 22-13 lead with 1:48 showing on the clock.
Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets) got the U.S. on the right path with an old-fashioned 3-point play, then Anthony hit a jumper, Williams made a free throw, and when Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) dropped a jumper with just :06 left, the quarter closed with the USA trailing by two, 23-21.
Picking up its defensive intensity and getting into transition, the U.S. forced Spain into seven turnovers and outscored their opponents 27-17 in the second quarter to regain control.
A 3-pointer from Anthony and another three by James propelled the Americans in front 28-26 with 7:04 to go before half. Tied at 30, Anthony, who scored 22 of his game high 27 points in the first half, piled up eight points in a USA 11-0 run that saw the U.S. team grab control 42-32 with 2:59 left in the second period.
Spain tallied the final five points in the first half, but still lagged behind at halftime, 48-40.
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), who was quiet in the first half tallying 3 points, took over. Durant hit a 3-pointer, then added a fast break layup as the USA went up 53-42. Leading 55-46, Durant added another 3-pointer and then a slam to make the game 60-46 with 6:29 left in the third.
Spain tried once more to get back into the game only this time Westbrook answered with seven straight points to push the U.S. lead to 21, 69-48 with 4:18 in the third.
Spain outscored the U.S. 13-5 to close the quarter and reduce the gap to 74-61 heading into the fourth quarter.
Leading 80-67 with 6:50 to play, the USA’s James took control and poured in 12 of the team’s next 14 points as the U.S. opened up a 94-74 lead to seal the victory.
The USA’s shooting from afar was excellent for a second consecutive game. Shooting 54.3 percent (38-70 FGs) from the field, the U.S. made 13-of-23 3-pointers. The USA also won the battle of the boards, outrebounding the taller Spanish squad 35 to 24.
Aiding the USA offense in addition to Anthony and James was Durant, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Westbrook tossed in nine points, and James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder) finished with seven points. Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) came up with a game best 10 rebounds, James handed out seven assists.
Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol finished with 19 points, and Ibaka added 16 for Spain.
Krzyewski is being assisted on the USA bench by Syracuse University and Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim and former NBA head coaches Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan.
“I think we’ve gotten better. I think we need to use pool play first of all to qualify for medal play but also I think to get five more international games under our belt. I thought we reacted better tonight than two nights ago to the international game and we have to keep learning about it,” stated Krzyzewski.
The U.S. men open Olympic action on July 29 facing France in a 2:30 p.m. (London local time) game. Preliminary round play for the Americans continues July 31 versus Tunisia (10:15 p.m.); Aug. 2 versus Nigeria (10:15 p.m.); Aug. 4 versus Lithuania (2:30 p.m.) and concludes Aug. 6 versus Argentina (10:15 p.m.). Olympic quarterfinal play is scheduled for Aug. 8, semfinals are Aug. 10 and finals are being played on Aug. 12.