Team USA Advances To Semis With 119-86 Win
It's not often in basketball that a 33-point blowout gives the winning team cause for distress. But that’s just an indication of the sky-high expectations that have been placed upon the 2012 U.S. national team, which won Wednesday’s match against Australia 119-86
The quarterfinal elimination game began as scripted for Team USA, with LeBron James penetrating and dishing out to a wide-open Kevin Durant for three in the game's opening moments. But things quickly deteriorated for the red, white, and blue, as they watched in bewilderment as the Boomers matched them blow for blow through much of the first quarter.
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski adjusted, though, moving away from the isolation offense in which his team had begun the game and putting the ball in the hands of his best playmakers, LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams. Set after offensive set, those three attacked the basket, forcing the Aussie defense to collapse and giving snipers Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony clean looks from beyond the arc.
Still, Australian head coach Brett Brown did not relent, pushing his team's offensive tempo and leaning heavily upon 2012 Olympic scoring leader Patty Mills and iron man Joe Ingles; Mills scored a game-high 26, while Ingles played all 40 minutes of the contest and contributed 19 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
The game remained close for the better part of four quarters, with a consistent double-digit U.S. lead being cut several times to within seven points, and, at one point in the third quarter, to within three. As the game progressed into the fourth quarter and the U.S. lead continued to hover at just about 10 points, the anticipation of the London crowd was palpable.
Unfortunately for those hoping to see this proverbial David escape with its life, the U.S. Goliath crushed that dream – and the Aussies – with a 35-16 fourth quarter that featured four consecutive Kobe Bryant threes during one 66-second sequence.
Team USA finished the game on a 26-8 run.
LeBron Comes Up Huge:
LeBron James has been stellar for the United States throughout these London games, but his performance against Australia was perhaps his best yet. The three-time NBA MVP posted a rare Olympic triple-double, with 11 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists.
With his 11 points, James (232) passed Charles Barkley (231) in career Team USA Olympic points. He still trails Michael Jordan (256) and David Robinson (280).
Team USA member – and Philadelphia 76er – Andre Iguodala was the victim of a numbers game in the United States' win over Australia. Between he, Tyson Chandler, James Harden, and Anthony Davis, there were only 24 available minutes.
Expect Iguodala to play a larger role against Manu Ginobili and Argentina Friday. The defensive specialist notched 13 points, nine rebounds, and a pair of assists when the two teams faced off in preliminary play Monday.
The U.S. men take on Argentina in semifinal play Friday at 4:00 PM (EST). Team USA most-recently defeated the Argentinians 126-97 Monday.
Posted: 8:25 PM, August 8, 2012