U.S. Team Gets Back To Work In Front Of The Troops





WASHINGTON, D.C. – After traveling from Las Vegas and taking a day off, the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team got back to action with an open practice in front of 3,100 members of the military and their families at the D.C. Armory on Saturday.

There was loud music, an MC, a shooting contest, and performances by the Wizards dancers during water breaks. And as important as it is to honor the military for their service, you had to wonder how the U.S. Team was going to get any serious work done in this environment.

But they did. They ran through their offense, worked on defensive rotations and close-outs, and scrimmaged. And maybe the crowd was a good thing, because, according to head coach Mike Krzyzewski, it got his team to communicate on the floor.

“Today was real good,” he said, “because we got to scrimmage in front of a crowd, and they talked.”

With just one more practice here in D.C. before Monday’s exhibition against Brazil and their trip overseas, every minute on the floor counts. Further crunching their timeline is the fact that they were without their two point guards for a few days in Vegas.

“This is only the second practice where we’ve had 12 guys,” Krzyzewski said.

For the most part, these practices are all about chemistry, both offensive and defensively. The talent is there and egos have been checked at the door. Yes, size is an issue with this roster, but you can’t practice being bigger.

“I think we’re all willing and capable to do whatever coach needs us to do,” Kevin Love said. “I just think we need that time on the floor together.”

Saturday, though it was in a unique environment, was a step in the right direction.

“We were coming to play for our troops, the guys who make everything possible for us, the guys we have the utmost respect for, for what they do for us and how they serve,” Deron Williams said. “And also, we got a good workout.”

***

For most of the practice, the squad was split into two groups of six…

White team: Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Chris Paul
Blue team: Anthony Davis, James Harden, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams

And yes, that white team looks like the starting group and a sixth man (though I wouldn’t be surprised if Williams got a start or two at the point). Kevin Durant was the guy coming off the bench in Thursday’s exhibition win over the Dominican Republic.

There were two types of scrimmaging. First, there was a controlled scrimmage. It was full-court action, but if a team scored, it kept the ball. And the White team scored on seven of its first eight possessions.

My unofficial scoring for the controlled scrimmage was 28-14 in favor of the White team, who had the advantage of getting the ball first and keeping it for a while. LeBron James was the leading scorer with nine points.

Then the two teams played a standard, eight-minute scrimmage. And they tacked on two more minutes when the score was tied at 20 after the first eight. The white team won that scrimmage 26-23, thanks to a pair of Durant 3-pointers in the overtime.

Here were a few highlights:

    • A sweet dish from Durant to Tyson Chandler underneath after the blue team stopped the initial pick-and-roll action.
    • Kobe Bryant, in the paint, getting two guys in the air and then feeding Carmelo Anthony for a baseline dunk.
    • A fast-break alley-oop from Williams to Andre Iguodala.
    • A reverse throw-down by LeBron off an alley-oop from Durant on the break, clearly the play of the day.
    • A pick and roll by Williams and Anthony Davis, ending in a huge dunk from the rookie after taking off from eight feet out.

You’ll notice that all of those highlights were assisted buckets. And the one thing that was really noticeable was that the passing was sharp and abundant.

While Durant and James Harden shot the ball well from the perimeter, Love and Russell Westbrook did not. One other negative was a few fadeaway turnarounds by LeBron that came up short. He shouldn’t have to take those shots with this team.

Kobe had some fun posting up Westbrook at the start of the standard scrimmage, hitting a lefty scoop and a elbow turnaround on the White team’s first two possessions.

Here’s my unofficial combined scoring for the two scrimmages…

White team
Durant: 14
James: 13
Bryant: 11
Anthony: 8
Chandler: 4
Paul: 4

Blue team
Harden: 10
Westbrook: 7
Love: 6
Williams: 6
Davis: 4
Iguodala: 4

You get the feeling that Durant, who scored 24 points against the Dominican Republic on Thursday, is going to be this team’s leading scorer, even though he’s got more talent around him than he did in 2010. But most of his shots are coming off feeds from his teammates. He doesn’t need to control the ball much, and can be that weak-side shooter that makes defenses pay for loading up on James or the point guards.

18 Comments

  1. James harden and Tyson chandler definitely do not deserve to be on the team. Lebrun and Durant are the two best players on the team.

  2. Mr Basketball says:

    All of you basketbol fans need to pay attention becuz this is the year of ESPANA! Team USA will not stop the Gasol brothers and Ibaka. And Espana’s guards will be quick enough for USA’s guards. You will see.

    ESPANA GOLD MEDAL LONDON 2012!!!

  3. sercan says:

    KOBE every time usa team Leader !

  4. Silva00 says:

    The hardest team to the U.S. is Spain. But there are also other potential. Brazil has been playing well, with a strong bottle, with Nene, Varejao, Splitter and Huertas point guard Lithuania and Russia have a good pre-Olympic Venezuela. Argentina is depending a lot on Manu Ginobili, Argentina is no longer in its heyday, Scola is still dangerous, but should be molded to London. Lithuania, Russia, Argentina and Brazil compete for bronze.

  5. mario cheese says:

    the 2000 team is better then this 2012 team

  6. rayjones5 says:

    No this team is not better than the 2008 team. With all the injuries hoe could it be. The thing they do have is their more experienced. In their prime the ODT vs-2012, the 2012 team wouldnt have a chance, The 2008 team would be more competitive, with the additions of rose,do, dw and cb.

  7. Nathanael says:

    I’m sorry Charles Barkley, but Kobe Bryant is better player than everyone on that Dream Team, with the exception of Michael Jordan, of course. Kobe and LeBron are better players than Barkley and Karl Malone, for exemple, and sure, there would a possibility of take that Dream Team down, for at least one night.

    • ANDREWJATE says:

      IF YOU COMPARE 92′ DREAM TEAM TO THE 12′, IT WOULD NOT BE CLOSE, DUE TO THE RULES HAS CHANGE ALOT AND YOU CAN’T TOUCH A PLAYER WITH OUT GETTING A FOUL. THE ONLY WAY YOU GET FOULED BEFORE IS A HARD FOUL. I’M 29, JUST THE FOUL I SEE ON THE NBA NOW IS A TOUCH FOUL.

    • canadian2 says:

      Are you kidding me?? I don’t see any position (1-5) from team 2012 overwhelming the team 1992. Possibly at 3 they’ve got a chance where team 2012 has LeBron and Durant. 1 – Magic Johnson : Size matters 2. MJ : GOAT 3.( Let’s give it up to team 2012 for this one) 4. Barkley & Malone : will shatter the backboards as well as backbones of team 2012 power forwards 5. Admiral, Ewing : Legends, period. And I can’t agree with your comment on Kobe being better player than MJ. Let’s take a look at the stats first : PPG/RPG/APG/FG% MJ – 30/6/5 49.7% LeBron – 28/7/7 48.3% Kobe – 25/5/5 45%….. This guy shoots excessively TOO MUCH. He shot 23.4 shots per game this year while NO OTHER PLAYER shot more than 20. Second guy shot the most was KD (19.7 shots per game) However, his FG% was 49.7% while Kobe’s was 43.0% this year. If Joe Johnson gets to shoot this much, he will be another decent 25/5/5 guy. The difference between LeBron’s 53.4% vs Kobe’s 43.0% makes Kobe look so pathetic. Kobe is way too overrated, shooting too much, just a lucky guy with many rings. Some people say Kobe is a better player than LeBron because of the number of rings. It will just make Robert Horry a better player than anyone he played with in his career including MJ, Shaq or anyone. Charles said only 3 guys from team 2012 will make team 1992. They are probably LeBron, KD, Anthony. SORRY BUT NOT KOBE.

    • beans says:

      thank you for calling it like it is…..all these Kobe Hater including Barkely are idiots….I will go so far as to say when Kobe was in his prime Jordan was not better than he….people say todays rules helped Kobe, but Jordan did not play against athletic freaks Like Durant and Lebron….Kobe Bryant holds the SHOT-CLOCK ERA RECORD for points in a game with 81 and he still holds THE 3 POINT RECORD WITH 12…. that one has been tied but not broken… the 92′ team would not be able to gaurd all these guys and Lebron is now an amazing defender and would do great guarding MJ, look how Lebron did work on Durnant in the finals

  8. Andrius says:

    Anthony Davis isn`t worth playing with TEAM USA, get Austin Rivers there.

  9. Tasketball101 says:

    Kevin Durant and Lebron James are the difference makers on that team. The two main reasons why the Dream Team would have trouble stopping the 2012 team. If they don’t win gold, it’d be because one of those two guys gets injured.

  10. mike says:

    Uh this team is by far a lot better then the team from 2008. Carlos Boozer was on that team…..

  11. Jon says:

    Main differences from 08 team:
    -Kobe 4 years older
    -No Dwight, Wade, or Bosh

    They will have some problems with size especially against Spain as anticipated. Kobe will have somewhat of a reduced role from 08 and will act primarily in a closing role. Expect Durant and LeBron to be the primary go-to guys. Still a great team with a majority of the best players in the league. Should be fun to watch. I see a rematch of the 08 Final between the US and Spain with a similarly close game, although a close game wire-to-wire. USA will once again take Gold in a nail biter of a finale.

  12. AH says:

    I believe they would come home with the Gold metal this year despite not having Howard, Bosh, Wade…..etc. I think this team is not better than the 2008 team though but definitely see them playing just as strong. Only two teams that’s going to give them a challenge is Spain and Argentina

    • Antis says:

      Haha Argentina? You’re kidding me right? The team lost majority of its stars because they retires from national team. Cmon son

  13. Jen says:

    Glad to see Durant playing well and leading the USA team. The entire team is an outstanding group. Go USA!

  14. BFoulds says:

    Durant is a NAUGHTY BOY