Posts Tagged ‘Team USA’

Stephen Curry Back In Team USA Mix

HOUSTON – Before the season, he had health concerns over a series of ankle injuries. Then, he got a $44-million vote of confidence from management in the form of an extension. Once the ball actually dropped, he nearly made the All-Star team as one of the standouts from a successful early-season run by the Warriors.

There is now new affirmation of the return to prominence for Stephen Curry.

Curry, a member of Team USA for the 2010 world championships before being disappointed at being left off the roster for the 2012 Olympics, is back in contention for a spot with USA Basketball heading toward the 2014 World Cup (the former world championships). He is expected to receive an invitation to a July mini-camp in Las Vegas with approximately two dozen players, some who have been in the program before and some newcomers, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told NBA.com. The United States will not be in any tournaments this summer.

“He definitely is,” Colangelo said of Curry being back on the radar. “He’s never really been off the radar. It’s always been about injuries with him. I think he continues to develop as a player and I plan to invite him this summer.”

Curry’s Warriors teammate David Lee, a Western Conference reserve for Sunday’s All-Star game at the Toyota Center, will likely get an invitation as well. Paul George of the Pacers, an Eastern Conference reserve and one of the rising young stars of the game, is also expected to be asked to play. It’s a formula that should help merge prospects for the program with some returning players.

Curry in some ways is an ideal player for the international game. He’s a shooter to help beat the zones Team USA sees regularly; not a great athlete, but able to play an up-tempo game the Americans like to use to beat slower opponents in transition. He also, importantly, comes with a great attitude that fits Colangelo’s desire for a drama-free squad devoid of ego issues.

40 years later, Team USA still defiant over controversial Olympic loss

Rich Clarkson/Time & Life Images

LEXINGTON, KY – They were just kids then, schoolboy amateurs brought together in the summer of 1972 to continue their nation’s unblemished record in Olympic basketball. They are men now, husbands and fathers and even grandfathers, some who made a career in the sport, others who found success and struggle in other pursuits.

For the first time in 40 years – basically since their flight home from Munich with neither the gold medals they felt they deserved or the silver medals they refused to accept – all 12 members of the ’72 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team were in the same room this weekend.

They came together for a 40th reunion organized by team captain Kenny Davis and longtime Kentucky sports journalist Billy Reed and, as often is the case at reunions, they reminisced, they laughed … and they dredged up the pain of a legacy denied.

“Last night was surreal,” said Tom Burleson, 60, the 7-foot center from N.C. State. After razzing the Kentucky crowd with some Wolfpack antics, Burleson choked up when he spoke about the bonds between these players, forged by what they had endured to get to the brink of Olympic gold and by what they have gone through in living with the controversial loss ever since.

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Hang Time Podcast (Episode 88) With Kurt Helin and Wayne Coyne

by Micah Hart

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – My man Sekou is out and about breaking down game film for the Smyrna Spartans, but he took time to call in so we could record a post-Olympic, post-Superman-to-the-Lakers podcast.

Kurt Helin from NBCsports’s Pro Basketball Talk blog joined to discuss Team USA’s performance in London and the fallout from the four-team deal that put Dwight Howard in Los Angeles and Andrew Bynum in Philadelphia. Everyone agreed that regardless of how the deal plays out for all teams involved, the Clippers are the team that definitely got the shaft.

After that, Oklahoma City resident and Thunder supporter Wayne Coyne, lead singer of the rock band The Flaming Lips, joined the show to discuss the rise of the Thunder in Oklahoma and made everyone think twice about what it means to be a sports fan. Definitely one of the more enlightened discussions we’ve ever had on the podcast.

We took a little Olympic-sized break, but Episode 88 is definitely one you won’t want to miss.

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of NBA.com, as well as our superproducer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Dirty Is As Dirty Does, NBA-Style Too

Team USA was shocked – shocked! – when Argentina point guard Facundo Campazzo turned Carmelo Anthony’s 3-point jump shot into a close-out cheap shot, hitting the New York Knicks’ shooter in the groin in the third quarter of the U.S. team’s 126-97 victory Monday at the 2012 London Olympics.

Puh-leeeze.

Frankly, the most shocking thing about the play and the furor it ignited in the moment and afterward was that Campazzo didn’t explain to reporters that he learned his technique by watching NBA global telecasts. Where better to learn some of the game’s dirtier tricks than from the those who not only have mastered them but elevated them to high art and, in some cases, deployed them all the way to Springfield, Mass.?

While Anthony briefly writhed on the floor, center Tyson Chandler, coach Mike Krzyzewski and others barked and glared at Campazzo and the Argentina team, including Suns forward Luis Scola. All of these guys, though, know their way around such cheap-shot maneuvers because those are prevalent, rampant even, in the league in which they play stateside. (Coach K? He had a guy who once stepped on a fallen player’s chest.)

Some of the greatest players in NBA history have been on the dark side of sainthood if an elbow here, a shove there or a slap where it really hurts could tilt defeat into triumph. Michael Jordan never met a rule he didn’t try to bend. Karl Malone and John Stockton were known to apply impact to opponents’ various nether regions, especially when cutting through the lane. And Tim Duncan and David Robinson were more than happy to win rings while teammate Bruce Bowen stepped repeatedly underneath descending shooters’ feet and ankles. (more…)

USA Rolling With New Super-Sub ‘Melo




LONDON Chris Paul was to the point in the huddle.

“During one of the timeouts, I told Coach K, ‘I’m not running any other plays except the one for ‘Melo,’ ” Paul said Friday morning, before the U.S. men’s Olympic team meeting at their cozy hotel downtown. It was a third-quarter huddle of Thursday’s game with Nigeria, when Carmelo Anthony was in the process of losing his mind (scoring-wise).

Anthony is paid to score by the Knicks, so getting 37 points in a game isn’t a big deal for him. But he’s rarely been as efficient as he was in Thursday’s 156-73 (156-73! it boggles the mind and fingers just to type that!) dismembering of Nigeria at the Olympic Park Basketball Arena, helping set all manner of U.S. individual and team Olympic records. And the U.S. team is showing signs that, just as in 2008, it’s rounding into shape at just the right time to win the gold medal.

There was some concern early in the training camp process for this team about how the cores of the 2008 Olympic team and the 2010 World Championship team would blend. The ’08 “Redeem Team” that won the gold medal in Beijing featured Anthony, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James; the ’10 team that won gold in Turkey was led by the new jacks: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. It’s not that anyone was going to be churlish about minutes; these are all mature guys. But any time a player is used to performing star turns, it’s sometimes hard to be “Guy Catching a Cab” in the closing credits.

But after Durant looked less like himself coming off the bench in the early exhibitions, Mike Krzyzewski made a switch in the starting lineup, bringing Anthony off the bench and starting Durant. Those small adjustments seem to have helped. Durant started out hot Thursday, hitting three 3-pointers in the first six minutes, and after Kobe Bryant scored 14 points early as well, they handed the baton to Anthony. He was white-hot from minute one.

“Carmelo would have like a 60-point game, I think … if we didn’t limit him,” Krzyzewski said late Thursday at the team hotel. “And the neat thing about that is that everybody on the team wanted him to shoot the ball.”

Anthony made 13 of 16 shots, including 10 of 12 from behind the arc. He’s gotten hot before, but it almost always involves some posting up or driving to the basket, where he uses his strength to get to the foul line. Thursday, though, almost all of his makes were from skeet-shooting distance. When you score 37 on 16 shots (in just 14 minutes), you’re doing it right.

“I was at a loss of words watching,” Love said. “I was telling Craig Sager, every time (Anthony) went up, I just stood up, held up three points in the air. I knew it was in. When a guy gets in a rhythm like that, everything seems to go in.” (more…)

The U.S. Ease Up? No Chance!





LONDON – As much as they wanted to revel in the accomplishment and celebrate all of the U.S. and Olympic records that were toppled in their 83-point win over Nigeria Thursday night, in the minutes immediately following the game you could sense some growing disenchantment with the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team’s 156-73 thrashing of Nigeria.

The line of questioning after the game, mostly from international journalists, was more about the U.S. abandoning the Olympic spirit in strangling an opponent than it was the nine records Carmelo Anthony and Co. set.

U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski shook his head when the question was asked of both Ike Diogu and Nigeria coach Ayo Barake if they felt they were being purposely humiliated by the U.S. and their 29 made 3-pointers.

“Obviously, the first thing we did was not play LeBron [James] and Kobe [Bryant] in the second half,” he said. “Second thing, with Carmelo shooting the way he did, we benched him. We didn’t play [Kevin] Durant, we didn’t take any fast breaks in the fourth quarter and we played all zone. You have to take a shot every 24 seconds and it just so happens the shots we took hit. And I take offense to his question, because there’s no way in the world that our program in the United States is ever out to humiliate anyone. And Coach [Barake] would think it humiliating if we didn’t play hard. The score is irrelevant to us, we just want to play well and win.”

Krzyzewski nailed it on this one. The U.S. shouldn’t ease up on anyone. They are playing by the same rules every other team in this competition is playing by. Sure, they have a stacked deck for sure with the best roster of anyone here. But that doesn’t mean they have an obligation to show any restraint on the court. These are real games, with medals on the line for the winners. These aren’t “friendlies.”

And for anyone pining for a 23-under rule finding its way into the basketball competition the way they it has the Olympic soccer competition, you should know that the U.S. has gold medal teams at every age group. Oh, and the best 23-year-old player on the planet is Durant, the NBA’s reigning and three-time scoring champ.

So technically, there is no “fair fight” to be had in Olympic basketball. Not right now.

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Elveda from Istanbul

ISTANBUL — If you were just looking for a little competitive basketball to tide you over until the NBA and European seasons begin, the 2010 FIBA World Championship more than delivered. We had late-game drama, brilliant individual performances, beautiful teamwork, and great basketball through and through.

Best of all, we had a gold medal game that put a young and small American team against a huge Turkey squad and their 15,000 ridiculously loud fans.

And the U.S. National Team answered all the questions with an impressive 81-64 victory over the hosts, who may have run out of gas after Saturday’s ridiculously thrilling victory over Serbia.

All the credit goes to Mike Krzyzewski and his team though. As I wrote in my story, the effort on defense and on the boards was incredible. This was for the gold medal and those guys came with more energy than they’d had in any of their previous eight games.

Heading into the game, there were probably some worries that Kevin Durant, after scoring 71 points on 25-for-44 shooting over the last two games, might have an off night. But KD carried them offensively once again, earning that MVP trophy that he was ready to concede to Luis Scola a few days ago.

Lamar Odom also had another big game in a big spot, recording his second straight double-double. And Russell Westbrook brought ridiculous energy and athleticism. Westbrook was thought to be on the roster bubble a few times in training camp, but he turned out to be the guy that best represented the identity of this team: fast, athletic and aggressive defensively.

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Turkey was a fantastic host. Though it would have been nice to visit one of the other three pool play cities, I was happy to spend my 2 1/2 weeks in Istanbul, a beautiful city with much to see and do. The traffic sucked (I joked with some people that Istanbul’s top export is exhaust fumes), but every other aspect of the trip was fantastic.

Well, except for the untimely death of my laptop on Sunday morning, causing me much frustration. Fortunately, I was able to borrow a computer to write my story and post this blog. But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to accompany this text with some photos from my trip, because they were lost in the crash.

As beautiful as the sights of Istanbul are, it was equally enjoyable for me, as a basketball nut, to witness the atmosphere inside the Sinan Erdem Arena for every game that Turkey played. The reaction of the crowd to Kerem Tunceri’s game-winning layup on Saturday is something I’ll never forget. And I honestly got chills every time “12 Giant Men” or the Turkish national anthem was sung by the 15,000 strong.

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Lithuania Wins Bronze

Before the USA-Turkey finale, Lithuania beat Serbia, 99-88 to capture the bronze medal.

The key sequence came in the second quarter, when Lithuania used a 14-4 run to turn a three-point lead into a 13-point cushion. The run included four straight three-point possessions and two straight threes from Linas Kleiza.

After Andre Iguodala shut him down on Saturday, Kleiza broke out for 33 points on Sunday, including 12 in that pivotal second quarter. Nenad Krstic struggled for Serbia, finishing with just five points on 2-for-7 from the field.

Lithuania came here with a young team, and they definitely overachieved, going 8-1, with their only loss coming at the hands of the U.S. They will host next year’s European Championship, certainly taking some momentum from this tournament into that one.

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Argentina Takes Fifth

In the afternoon, Argentina outlasted Spain, 86-81 to finish fifth. Spain came all the way back from being down 25 in the middle of the third quarter to tie the game with two minutes left in the fourth. But they missed on a couple of opportunities to take the lead and scored just one point in their final five possessions.

Pablo Prigioni hit the dagger for Argentina, who was led by 27 points from Carlos Delfino and 22 from Scola. Rudy Fernandez led all scorers with 31 points on 11-for-13 shooting.

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All-Tournament Team

Kevin Durant (USA), Linas Kleiza (LTU), Luis Scola (ARG), Milos Teodosic (SER), Hedo Turkoglu (TUR)

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So, Elveda (I think and hope that means “goodbye”) from Istanbul. It’s been a great trip and I hope to be back here again sometime down the line. If you’ve got any questions or comments, please send an e-mail via the link below.

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More USA Basketball coverage: Analysis | Blog

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

Notes from USA 89, LTU 74

The combination of Durant and Iguodala got it done on both ends for the U.S. (Garrett Ellwood/NBA/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL – The United States is one win away from winning its first World Championship since 1994. The U.S. advanced to Sunday’s gold medal game (2:30 ET, ESPN) with a 89-74 win over Lithuania in the semifinals on Saturday.

Kevin Durant was the story offensively, outscoring Lithuania (19-18) through the first quarter and a half and finishing with 38 points (a record for an American player in the World Championship) on 14-for-25 shooting. Durant was on fire from the start, and Lithuania could do nothing to contain him.

Lithuanian coach Kestutis Kemzura: “He was unstoppable today.”

Andre Iguodala: “That was beautiful.”

USA coach Mike Krzyzewski: “When a guy is doing that well, you have to keep getting him the ball.”

Yep, that pretty much sums it up in regards to Durant. Even the Lithuanian fans couldn’t help but appreciate the performance, giving Durant a nice ovation when he left the game late in the fourth.

But the USA defense, led by Iguodala was even more dominant in the first half. They allowed Lithuania to score just 27 points on 39 possessions in the first half. They forced just six turnovers in the first half, but had countless additional deflections.

Iguodala was given the assignment of defending Lithuania’s star forward Linas Kleiza, and you can say that Iguodala earned an ‘A’ with his performance. Kleiza has made a living in this tournament by using his strength to back his defender down and get to the rim. He tried to do that early on, but failed every time.

Here are the results of Kleiza’s first four post-ups.

  • Iguodala strips him and the ball deflects out to Jonas Maciulis, who misses a jumper.
  • Chauncey Billups strips him, with the U.S. recovering the ball.
  • Iguodala strips him, with the U.S. recovering the ball.
  • Iguodala strips him, with the U.S. recovering the ball.

After that, Kleiza started settling for jumpers. He finished with as many turnovers (four) as points, making just one of his 11 shots from the field. Iguodala obviously wasn’t the player of the game, but he deserves a lot of credit for the win.

“[Kleiza] is the heart and soul of their offense, and he took him out of the game,” Rudy Gay said afterward.

Lamar Odom also had one of his best games with this team, recording a double-double (13 points and 10 boards), adding three blocks. Krzyzewski called Odom “an unsung hero” after the game, noting that the Lakers forward has adjusted to playing center, “especially defensively.”

Lithuania stayed in the game in the second half with some timely threes and a zone that the U.S. had a hard time scoring against, but Durant just kept going and hit the dagger, a long, left-wing three that gave the U.S. an 18-point lead with 3:52 left.

  • With Krzyzewski choosing to go with more shooting against the zone, starting point guard Derrick Rose played just 12:03. Rose has had some success in the past penetrating the zone, but his first couple of drives on Saturday were a little out of control. He missed all four shots he took.
  • Even with more shooting on the floor, the U.S. shot just 8-for-25 (32 percent) from 3-point range.
  • Final numbers… USA: 89 points on 79 possessions (113 per 100). Lithuania: 74 points on 79 possessions (94 per 100).

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

USA-Lithuania Preview

Kleiza and the Lithuanians will be a true test for the U.S. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL — The United States is two nights and two wins from a gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship. But neither of those two wins will come easy. And if it’s not at its best on both Saturday and Sunday, the U.S. will fail to accomplish their goal.

The level of competition takes another step up in the semifinals on Saturday, when the U.S. will meet 7-0 Lithuania.

Lithuania has perhaps been the second best country in international competition since NBA players began participating in 1992. They’ve finished in the top four of every Olympics (with three bronze medals) since then. They haven’t has as much success at the World Championship, but this is a country with a lot of basketball tradition.

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USA-Russia: Halftime Notes

ISTANBUL – After winning its last three games by an average of 42 points, the U.S. National Team is in a tough battle against Russia in the quarterfinals of the 2010 FIBA World Championship.

The U.S. trailed by as many as five points midway through the second quarter, but went on a 12-0 run and took a five-point lead into halftime.

  • Rebounding has been as issue for the U.S., allowing Russia to grab nine offensive rebounds (with four more going Russia’s way out of bounds). But Russia has been able to turn those 13 extra opportunities into only seven second-chance points.
  • Kevin Durant leads all scorers with 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting. Andre Iguodala and Lamar Odom have five rebounds apiece for the U.S.
  • Guard Sergey Bykov leads Russia with 10 points, while new Knicks center Timofey Mozgov added nine in just 10 minutes of action, thanks to some poor pick-and-roll defense from the U.S.
  • It has been one of the faster-paced games of the tournament, with each team having the ball 38 times in the first half, despite all the offensive rebounds.
  • The U.S. had some issues dealing with Russia’s multiple defenses early on (they scored on just two of 12 possessions spanning the first and second quarters), but the Americans scored on seven of their last eight possessions of the half.
  • The U.S. had a huge advantage at the foul line, hitting 14 of their 18 attempts there. Russia has attempted just three free throws and has made just one.
  • Coming into the game, these were the best (USA, 87.5 points allowed per 100 possession) and fourth-best (Russia, 95.0) defenses in the tournament.

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.