James, Defense Help U.S. Beat Brazil

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In front of President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden, the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team picked up an 80-69 exhibition victory over Brazil on Monday.

As the score indicates, the win was neither easy nor pretty. Brazil led 27-17 after the first quarter, and the U.S. scored an even 80 points on 80 possessions, not too efficient given all the offensive talent on the roster.

Shooting was the issue. The U.S. shot just 9-for-33 (27 percent) from outside the paint and players not named LeBron James shot just 4-for-21 (19 percent) from 3-point range. Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, three of the U.S. Team’s four best scorers, combined to shoot just 9-for-31 overall.

James picked up the slack though, scoring 30 points on 11-for-20 shooting and adding six rebounds and four steals. And while he flourished in transition, he also took advantage of several matchups with the 6-3 Alex Garcia.

Except when it came to LeBron, Brazil had the matchup advantages inside. Big men Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love combined to play less than 25 of the 40 minutes, so the U.S. went small for almost half the game, and wings Andre Iguodala, Bryant and Durant often found themselves matched up with Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao and Nene in the paint.

U.S. head coach Mike Krzyzewski believes that the defensive matchups were partly responsible for the offensive struggles.

“When they have to play a big like that,” Krzyzewski said, “there’s a lot of physicality that when you get to the offensive end of the court, it has its impact on you.”

In that way, this was a preview of what the U.S. will have to deal with if or when they play Spain, their biggest threat in London. And the U.S. held its own, really, outscoring Brazil 40-32 in the paint and allowing just six offensive rebounds on 27 missed shots.

“For the most part,” Anthony said, “I think we did a hell of a job of just keeping them off the glass, keeping them out of the paint, keeping them from out the post, where they can be productive at.

And as it has throughout Krzyzewski’s tenure has head coach, the U.S. used its speed and athleticism to its advantage, forcing 26 turnovers and scoring 19 fast break points. After scoring 27 points in the first quarter, Brazil had five points and 12 turnovers in the second.

The only defensive issue the U.S. really had was on the weak side. And they were fortunate that Brazil shot just 4-for-15 from 3-point range (2-for-13 after the first quarter).

“There were certain times where we didn’t do a good job on the backside,” Bryant said. “So when they kick it into the post, whether we’re fronting the post or playing behind and doubling, and they skipped the ball, our rotations were a little late. We gave up a lot of open shots.”

Still, this was a defensive victory for the U.S. After the first quarter, Brazil scored just 42 points on 60 possessions. With a brilliant point guard, shooters on the perimeter, and bigs who finish well, this is a good offensive team. And it struggled once the U.S. locked in defensively.

“We let our offense, early on, mess up the defense,” James said. “Once we decided that we needed to play defense instead of offense, we turned the game around.”

This was a good test for the U.S. And though they fell behind early and never really had much of an offensive rhythm, there was no panic, just focus on the end of the floor they knew they could control.

Now, the U.S. travels to Manchester and then to Barcelona for three more exhibition games before the Olympics. They know the offense needs work, but also that they can depend on their D, no matter how big the opponent is.

47 Comments

  1. lakers fans says:

    kobe>james

  2. Zach says:

    The ’92 played a bunch of worldwide scrubs! I believe this team we have now would still beat them. The game is played a lot faster now and rules have changed. There is no way that half the guys on the ’92 team could keep up with the current U.S team. No way.

  3. Chico says:

    I saw some guys depreciating USA for having a bad time against Brazil. But you should know that after spending more than 10 years away from the Olympics, Brazil comes with it’s best and prepared to win, or at least play hard, all the games. It’s ridiculous here in Brazil too see brazilians thinking we would take a beating on that game. USA websites is right to respect our National team. The struggles from USA wasn’t an accident, it happened in the World Championship, and it’s going to happen again if both teams meet in London.
    Maybe Brazil is not the best after USA, but it surely the biggest menace to this “dream team”, considering Spain to play similar to the World Championship(they were playing ok, but nothing spetacular). Huertas is at his best, obvious NBA star level. It’s funny too see NBA clubs searching for expensive and old free agents, when they should try an approach to this talent. Splitter is always awesome for Brazil, and I really hope Pop to play him more next season, so he can reach his full potential. Nene and Barbosa, despite their popularity problems in Brazil, are great players when they play for the team, not trying to solve everything alone.Varejão Is late blooming his game on the NBA, hope he makes the same for us.

  4. maximus says:

    for me i think they will do the same as the dream team, look all the international players today compared to 1992 there’s a lot of talent all big sizes and also compare the players of the nba today for their talent and its how many years differences to compare that things. for 20 years a lot of learning skills they will adapt on each player defensively and offensively. try the nba not to take international players and now we will see how tough all nba players today When did all international players develop their talent. easy question, good luck to dream team 2012….

  5. trauts says:

    starters: rondo durant lebron ibaka dwight

    reserves westbrook harden granger kobe melo bosh love

  6. Dreamers says:

    Plz Tom dont mention Rondo when speaking of team USA. Deron williams is much much much better than him and I rather go with westbrook over him. plays D just as good as Rondo and is better scorer plus Rondo needs the ball in his hands at all times to be effective. just watch his all star performance he looks suspect.

  7. Buddy Love. says:

    I want to see good basketball now!

  8. Tom says:

    C – Dwight
    PF – Lebron
    SF – Durant
    SG – Kobe
    PG – CP3

    R – Chandler, Bosh, Love, Melo, D-Wade, D-Rose, Rondo

    Now that could compete with the Dreamteam

  9. John says:

    Huertas better than any other PG!

  10. USATeam2012 says:

    Well, this is just an exhibition. Lebron will rage on that day. Just wait

  11. Brasil vs USA says:

    This game was a challenge for the US team to see Brazil taking a lead like that.
    US made an adjustment and Brazil got lost in the second quarter.
    However, their play was even for the rest of the game, if it wasn’t for that second quarter rally then perhaps we’d have an overtime, score tied in the last seconds.
    Brazil has a great team with Huertas in point, he is an NBA caliber player, and it would be great for him to be part of the elite ball players of the world, hope NBA picks him up, though he’s 29 already. However he’s at his peak.
    The big men of Brazil will make any challenger struggle, i’d love to have Nene and Varejão as my two big men, with Splitter as a backup is phenonemal. Then there is Alex Garcia who is a brilliant guard that likes to take over and plays tough defense.

    The US has the most phenomenal players on the planet, and it makes me happy to see Brazil making them sweat.
    These guys better get in tune with each other quickly cause the Olympics will be the proof of where they stand.
    The place where USA will beat anyone is in athleticism and defense, if they lock up and play tight they force the other team into turnovers and you convert them into fastbreaks. This is where they will kill. Hope they put up a show in the Olympics!

    But im Brazilian so i hope USA meets Brazil in the finals!!!
    Long Live the Lakers! Lakers for Life!
    Viva o Brasil!

  12. Biggie.small1 says:

    When the dream team dominated the world, there was no Gasol, no TP, no Nene, no Nowitzki …
    Basketball world have changed a lot and the physicality of the game is now different from what he was.
    When Shaq came into the league, he dominated every centers physically, so does Lebron today at his position.
    Let’s be real, there’s no change 92 dream team beats the Team USA, i’m almost forty n’ i’ve seen both teams but the game is not the same right now.

  13. You will have to use 2 towers in the paint; Chandler and Davis.

  14. I told you, you will need another center. The ball is the problem cuz is total different.
    The fellas felt the pressure but they will arise next games games playing better.
    It seems to be interesting Deron Williams in the penetration.
    Here other tips;

    Use your defense all the time in the paint because there´s no 5 seconds violation, PERIOD.

  15. caloyski says:

    The USA team has a very glaring weakness– lacks legitimate Centers who could play for 48 minutes– very vulnerable in the middle– there are a lot of 6′ 10″ s , and 6”11″ s who are good forwards and centers from Europe and the Americas who could create a lot of mismatches for the United States– they can be beaten

  16. 2 says:

    I’m pretty sure this team will lose to the dream team, but we can’t say it won’t be close. We need to consider, the teams around the world today have gotten a LOT better. This Brazil team had 3 NBA players, and those other guys on the team aren’t slouches either.

    Brazil 2012 > Brazil 1992

    If the USA team today beat Brazil 2012 by 11 points, they can probably beat Brazil 1992 by 20 or possibly 30 (even though Dream team beat them by a lot more)

    • DR fan says:

      they have 4 nba, Barbosa, Nene, Varejao and Splitter (who, btw, played great, he is learning a lot from duncan)

  17. James says:

    u guys need to give some credit to Brazil… Plus… I’m pretty sure that there was a lot of fouls that the referees in london would call, and this was NBA refs…. in FIBA they do call those fouls that kobe did and they didn’t caught… Im pretty sure that if it was in London, Brazil would have won this game…

  18. Andre says:

    Huertas is a huge PG. The best player in Europe. Hope he comes to NBA soon.

  19. MARU says:

    they still could be compared to the dream team
    the only reason that they almost lost today because melo CP3 and kobe started bad and since durant was just a reserve he wasnt able to get his rythm normally
    and lebron said it himself that they let they’re offense ruin the D

  20. Law064 says:

    What a joke is correct. This team will get gold but beating the Dream Team what were you smoking Kobe!!!

    • s27m says:

      how can you expect a true winner to say hes going to lose to another team.Even if he knows that its imposible. As a competitor you dont admit defeat.

      Kobe knows he can’t beat that team I dont think there will ever be a team that beats that team!

  21. Travis says:

    Kobe said this USA team could beat the dream team YAH Right! I can’t wait to see the Spain game!

  22. Pedro says:

    Huertas is a beast.

  23. Blah says:

    Hahahaha… Barely getting past Brazil,and this team is better than the ’92 team????? What a joke!

    • s27m says:

      back than intl teams had no nba level talent, the Dream team wouldn’t be blowing people out like they did in 92………..BUT………You are right there is no way this team could beat the Dream team

  24. g0dlyk says:

    another game that will silence those lebron haters. i just wonder who those lebron haters will cheer for? USA or the opponent? imagine if lebron just played as bad like KD, Melo, Kobe this game, i’m 100% sure that they would have lost this game. i just hope for the us team that this has been a lesson that they’ve learned. they had way too much jumpers? why not attack the opponent’s bigs to create some foul trouble?

    • Adam says:

      I agree. They should’ve taken advantage of the bigs and fouled them out. No bigs makes it easier for them. But if you look at it on the positive note, now they know what to sorta do when they face Spain. I know that Spain would crush Brazil, but looking at the size, this could be like a practce for the U.S. when they face the Spaniards. On the other note, LeBron haters, just stop. Look, this is TEAM USA!!! They’re representing our country! You can go hate all you want during NBA SEASON but NOT during the Olympics CAUSE WERE IN THE SAME TEAM HERE!!!!! I’ll be honest, LeBron to me isn’t exactly the best in the league. He is a superstar though, don’t get me wrong. But if he wins one more ring, then I’ll believe that he is. No hate on LeBron though.

  25. Mandakiri says:

    Keep the ball on the hands of LBJ, and everything will be alright for Team USA.

  26. KJAMES says:

    d is the key usa maximize it and u will be unbeatable

  27. LITOLAPId says:

    finally! people realized that Lebron is the best player in the NBA right now. (BUT Not the best of all time)

  28. Jen says:

    Please start Durant over Melo. Durant is the best player after Lebron and we had such a rough start with Melo starting. Westbrook should replace Chris Paul. That air ball made me cringe.

    • Law064 says:

      @Jen I agree Durant should be starting over Melo hands down

    • s27m says:

      Agreed! no way in HELL i’d put Melo on before Durant!
      The last three seasons have proved that Durant is clearly the BETTER player.
      Melo is overrated, selfish, one dimensional and will NEVER win a title.

      Melo aint a winner…

    • DR fan says:

      I believe Durant asked to come from the bench as respect for Melo’s career

      • blobby says:

        They wanted melo to start because he is a better leader yes durrant is younger, less selfish, and has a lot more raw talent, and in my opinion better, melo can lead a team who is down 20-30 points to a victory. I’m not downing durrants skills its just melo is well mello.

  29. Joepags_8 says:

    Nice Game…but needs more practice..

  30. João Pedro Carvalho says:

    Brazilian PG, Marcelinho Huertas, should be playing in the NBA!

    • DR fan says:

      the dude is for real, he reminded me of a John Stockton, that dude can definitely move the ball

  31. LordP says:

    Lebron is the guy!!MVP of the regular season,FINALS MVP and to end with Best Player of team USA…Hey ….BRON ARE U HUMAN????

  32. Sam says:

    So no more Dream Team comparisons right? =D

  33. titi says:

    Did Kobe say they could beat the dream team?

  34. DurantistheBestNBAPlayer says:

    I really wish Durant would start over Kobe, Melo, or Chandler. Those three did not play well today.

  35. (Heat Fan) says:

    LeBron’s the main man on that team.