USA Basketball: U.S. Rolls In Opener

LAS VEGAS – All-Star center Al Horford has seen some of the competition the U.S. team will face in the Olympic Games in London. And after he and his teammates from the Dominican Republic were run off the floor by the U.S. Thursday night at UNLV, things have come into focus for him in regards to what will go down when the competition begins.

The U.S. will always win an unfair fight, he said after watching his team lose 113-59. But he also warned that there will be no cakewalks on the road to gold in London.

“Russia is pretty good. Spain is pretty good,” Horford said. “Those are going to be their bigger challenges. Russia is big and athletic and they play well together. Against us, it’s not really a fair gauge for them [the U.S. team], but they’re going to have their hands full with Spain and Russia.”

That said, Horford saw enough Thursday night from familiar faces like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Andre Iguodala and others to know that if the U.S. plays their game, few teams, if any, will be able to stay with them in London.

Durant led the U.S. with 24 points off the bench and made five of his six shots from beyond the 3-point line. He also grabbed 10 rebounds. Iguodala added 18 points off the bench, making four of his six shots from distance. James (13) and Kevin Love (11) were the only other players to reach double figures in scoring.

“It felt good to me,” Durant said. “It was cool to come off the bench for the first time. Wherever they need that spark, I’m going to try to come out and give them that spark. So I was looking forward to having different roles playing with USA, so it was kind of fun for me, actually.”

It was no fun for the Dominican Republic, coached by Kentucky coach John Calipari and featuring Horford and Kings swingman Francisco Garcia.

“Durant, the way he’s shooting the ball, is just too much,” Horford said, “They can create problems for so many other teams. We played Russia and we played some of these other teams and we could get into our offense. Tonight, we couldn’t even get into our offense. If they keep playing defense that way, and speeding up the game that way, they’ll have an advantage against those bigger teams. If they have a smashmouth game they could have some problems. But if Iguodala keeps shooting like that, and KD, they’ll be fine.”

As crazy as it sounds, and with yet another big man (Blake Griffin) going down with an injury that will cost him his spot on the team, a smashmouth style of defense is the one thing you can count on from this team from now until their run in London ends. (And for the record, Anthony Davis looked pretty good in his debut.)

Cranking up their ball pressure and creating turnovers, they scored 38 points off of 27 turnovers for the Dominican Republic, will indeed be this team’s hallmark.

“Our ball pressure is ridiculous,” Paul said.”The amount of ball pressure we can put on guys, especially at the guard position with me , D.Will and Russ, and then Kobe and then all of those other guys, we should give everybody hell just about every night.”

Without a bona-fide inside game and with shooters always going through their ups and downs, the staples for this team, just like all of the others Mike Krzyzewski has coached during his time with USA Basketball, will be built around the their speed, athleticism and versatility.

“That’s how it’s going to be for us,” James said. “It’s gonna start with defense and defensive rebounding. We get stops and we’;ll give ourselves a chance to win every game. We want to use our speed, athleticism and our ability to guard multiple positions and we did that.”

The size disadvantages the U.S. will face can be offset with a deep team filled with flashes, in addition to Durant coming off the bench they also had Westbrook, Williams (in the first half) and Harden playing off the bench. That sort of depth allows a team to play a riskier style and gamble on defense in ways that usually aren’t done.

And that’s just the way Krzyzewski prefers it to be.

“The way we’re playing is exactly the way we should play,” he said. “With this group of athletes and with the depth that we have … we have good depth, especially on the perimeter.”

Whether that’s enough to get them past he likes of Russia and Spain, or even Brazil in the next exhibition game Monday in Washington,  remains to be seen.

But it was more than enough in the opener!

 

28 Comments

  1. mike says:

    gues what? the ball is round. the presurre is for all. the good play decision is from coach, players and even the referees. SO THE BEST TEAM WIN. I LIKE THE USA.

  2. Diamare says:

    There is no way Spain or any other team can beat the US. Wake up man your still sleeping! or do u even know how to play basketball?? Wanna bet? First look for a decent job so you can pay me. USA team will kill all European teams!

  3. knickfan212 says:

    USA did their thing against Dominican Republic like a cat to a mouse. Spain will let us know how they’ll play against better competition . USA to the gold!!

  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFn7CCtp19c I bet you team US to play Allen Iverson level.

  5. You need double penetration they already got the transition game

  6. I mean, you need Blake Griffin dunks.

  7. Not sure if trash-talk could be fine for them because Anthony Davis last 3 point shot with Dominic R. bench. Im not if that way is their best choice rather they in my opinion keep silence in the court. Unbelievable, it´s just unbeliavable.

  8. Unbelievable, it´s just unbelievable.

  9. infamousbola says:

    Melo was a bronze winner fiba and olympic, Durant takes my start 5 gold fiba winner. Though Durant cant play the four and i think thats why he starts. By the way its funny how Kobe thinks he is part this generation of basketball player when he is more the generation of talent that won gold in sydney and bronze in athens. This new generation came up with bronze before veterans came in for gold

  10. @Mr.Basketball lmfaooooooo rofl get a life son.
    Every Euro teams in this year Olympic r jokes.
    USA will smoke any teams with their eyes close n u can take that to the bank!
    USA will win 2012 Gold Medals!
    Gaaaaaah!

    • Mr Basketball says:

      How will Team USa compeet with Spanish front line of Gasols and Ibaka? Answer: they won’t. Spain will be Olympic Gold Medals REVENGE FOR 2008 OLYMPICS!!!

  11. Although its fun to watch Kobe, Durant, Lebron, etc, in these games, I think its time to let the college kids represent our country once again.

    Check out my take here:

    http://sports-glutton.com/2012/07/13/is-it-time-to-end-the-dream/

  12. Although Kobe, Lebron, Durant, etc. are fun to watch, I would much rather see the college kids representing the USA in the Olympics.

    Check out our take here:

    http://sports-glutton.com/2012/07/13/is-it-time-to-end-the-dream/

  13. Syem says:

    Why! Why! in the name of GOD! Why will they made a game between the DREAM FREAKING TEAM vs Dominican Republic or any other country… ITS THE DREAM TEAM! Even if it was only a friendly game it was sooo unfair!

  14. willie says:

    travis, it’s the olympics… not the NBA playoffs… melo is in his 3rd olympics, and was the USA leading scorer/MVP in 2008. Melo deserves the starting spot, and he will be the top or 2nd top scorer of the team..

    • Salis says:

      What??? Melo wasnt the MVP of the 2008 Olympics and he didnt lead the team in scoring DWade averaged 16 that lead the team and he was coming off the bench…KD should start because he’s a team first player only thing Melo wants to do is JACK JACK JACK up shots and he can’t play D….

    • THAI says:

      leading scorer in 2008 was Wade….Averaged a team best 16.0 ppg., 4.0 rpg., 1.9 apg. and 2.3 spg….not Melo. And I think it is good to have Durant come off the bench….just like Wade did in 08…..he had the highest PER by doing that. That is how you beat teams into submission.

  15. Travis says:

    I still can’t believe Durant is coming off the bench for Melo I don’t remember seeing Melo in the NBA finals ever? Durrants how old with NBA finals experience Jordan was how old when he first went to the finals? One other note I didn’t realize until yesterday how good Anthony Davis really was he was looking good out there!

    • Adam says:

      KD may play better than Melo, but at least they’re not burning out KD and they’re reserving his energy. Like Lou Williams and the Sixers. He’s their top scorer but he isn’t in the starting 5. Cuz they want to preserve his energy and use him when they need him the most. KD proved that he deserved a starting spot. He scored the highest points. But it’s Coach K’s plan and it’s a good one. KD is like their X factor. It’s not about the finals. This is USA Basketball here. We’re talking about the Olympics. Plus Coach K is a smart coach. Im sure he knows what he’s doing.

    • Zach Gillette says:

      I think Melo earned his starting spot in the last Olympics, thank you.

    • Joe says:

      It’s because Melo tends to dominate in the international game. It fits his style of play extremely well.

  16. usa man says:

    Durant should start over Melo!

  17. magicbobcat says:

    The video quite clearly states Carmelo got 13 points and LeBron only got 7. Such poor reporting

  18. Mr Basketball says:

    Spain will DESTROY Team USA and will forever tarnish the legacy of TEAM USA BASKETBALL!!!

    • Sick says:

      you made me laugh.. HAHAHA

    • Adam says:

      Yeah? We’ll see about that. Just putting Kobe, LeBron and KD in a team is unstoppable. Adding everone else like CP3, DWill, Ant Davis, Harden, Russ Westbrook, Kevin Love, Andre Igoudala, Melo, and Tyson Chandler basically makes them unstoppable. They may lack size, but speed and shooting is their advantage.

  19. benoit Benjamin says:

    poor old al had a shocker. only 1 of 12. and Garcia the only other nba player and a decent shooter only played 8 mins. the yanks will be tough to beat. i just hope the aussies don’t have to face them