LONDON — In the interest of fair play and a drama-free evening here at North Greenwich Arena, we’re going to have both the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team and Australia sign a petition to stick to basketball and leave the rabbit punching to others.
After yet another sucker-punching incident at the end of the Spain-France game involving Nicolas Batum’s right hand and Juan Carlos Navarro‘s groin area, we’ve officially seen enough of the below the belt antics. Play ball folks. Chris Paul and Facundo Campazzo kicked things off Monday night.
But there is Olympic gold (silver and bronze, too) on the line gentlemen. It’s time to cut out the flopping, the foolishness and the fisticuffs and just play ball. Kevin Durant and Patty Mills, two of the hottest scorers in the field, would appreciate it kindly.
We can do without the silly stuff. The winner of this U.S.-Australia game has a date with Argentina waiting on them.
We’re following every bounce of tonight’s final quarterfinal game (with our nearly every) play-by-play. Game tips off in 25 minutes. So get your predictions in now if you want them on the record …
— FOURTH QUARTER —
0.0: 119-86. See you Friday night. Maybe there will be a bit more suspense then … maybe not!
1:26: James Harden batting clean up tight, with seven points in the last 70 seconds. 117-84.
2:07: The U.S. is still firing, Andre Iguodala for 3. 112-84.
3:52: Okay, fun is over. Kobe finally misses one. But the damage has been done. He was scoreless at halftime and goes to the bench with 20. LeBron has a triple-double (what USA Basketball officials believe to be the first in Olympic history) and the U.S. is headed for a rematch with Argentina in the semifinals. The Boomers are going home. 107-80.
4:13: LeBron with the behind-the-back pass to Love for a dunk and the runaway. 107-80.
4:33: And again, for good measure. 105-80.
4:53: On the pull-up 3 now just to show off. 102-90.
5:10: Kobe for 3. 99-80.
5:48: LeBron finds Kobe on the right wing for a deep 3 and a 96-78 lead.
6:16: K. Love with a little big boy basketball under the rim. Gets a rebound, fouled and goes to the line for two. But not before getting a standing ovation from the bench for his hard work. 93-78.
7:49: LeBron in one corner turns and flings a one-handed dart to D. Will in the opposite corner and he swishes a 3. 90-75 just like that. LeBron erases so many of the U.S. deficiencies on both ends of the floor it’s not even funny.
8:32: David Barlow for 3 after an Andersen layup over Durant. 87-75.
9:16: CP3 with the step back 3. 87-70.
— THIRD QUARTER —
0.0: Wasn’t a particularly sharp 10 minutes for the U.S. But when you can lean on LeBron, Durant and even that Kobe fella, it’s tough to give up too much. 84-70.
22.1: ‘Melo converts the layup but misses the free throw off of a steal and break. 84-70.
1:02: One member of the U.S. press contingent (he shall remain nameless) insists that this team is primed for an upset but admits that he’s not sure there is a team left in this competition capable of pulling it off. Australia has the heart but not the horses. Doesn’t trust Spain or Argentina. “Russia might be the only team that can do it. And they have to get there first.”
1:11: Baynes comes back with an oop of his own. 80-68.
1:23: Durant on the drive and dunk. 80-66.
1:44: We’re back to LeBron just having his way with these poor bigs assigned to try to guard him. It’s not a fair fight when the U.S. spreads the floor and he attacks like this. Too easy. (lane violation on his second free throw) 78-66.
2:19: ‘Melo scores from 3-land on a tipped LeBron pass to the corner. 77-66.
2:48: Unsportsmanlike foul on Westbrook and he didn’t even swing on anybody below the belt. 77-66.
3:07: Matt Dellavedova with a layup off of the feed from Mills. 74-64.
3;30: Mills comes right back with a driving layup. 74-62.
3:38: ‘Melo at the line, the U.S. has calmed things back down a bit now. 74-60.
4:12: LeBron rebounds the Kobe miss from 3 finishes with the baseline layup. But misses the free throw after being fouled. 72-58.
4:37: Steal and another corner 3 from Kobe, 70-58.
4:53: Kobe for 3. 67-58.
5:30: LeBron sinks the first of two free throws, 64-58. But the U.S. needs the second unit to crank things up in here. They need a spark.
5:59: Andersen scores over Durant (3 fouls) in the post. 63-58. The U.S. yawned at the start of this quarter and now they are in a fight. 63-58.
6:39: Kobe sinks two free throws for a 63-56 lead.
7:27: Bryant shuts me up with a nice dime to Chandler for the dunk. 61-53.
7:42: Kobe steps on the line after he and Chandler go after a rebound and he snags it. This isn’t one of his finer performances. He was scoreless in the first half (0-for-4 with two turnovers and struggled to stay in front of anyone). He knows he’s struggling right now. He’ll crank it up, you watch.
8:01: Durant corner 3 to calm things down. 59-53.
8:23: Ingles with another 3. An 11-0 Boomers run and now we get what we were expecting. 56-53 just like tat.
9:11: Ingles sinks the 3. 56-50. We’ve got a game folks.
9:41: Mills with the steal and layup. 56-47 after five quick points from the Boomers’ best player.
A little Kiss Cam (and Prince on the loud speakers) for the second half warm up music. The U.S. is shooting 7-for-21 from deep right now, giving them 83 made 3-pointers and counting in this competition.
— HALFTIME —
The Red Foxes (Ukrainian dace team) didn’t make the move from the Big White Marshmallow to this new venue. There are some very disappointed members of the crowd who had grown fond of our usual halftime entertainment. I’m partial to the Heat Dancers myself. Someone send me a picture …