For three straight possessions midway through the first quarter, LeBron went into Cleveland Cavaliers “Devin Brown is the next-best guy on the floor with me” mode and broke open what had been a tie game between Team USA and Spain. Helping Dwight Howard on a double-team, ‘Bron forced Pau Gasol into a turnover, went coast-to-coast with the steal, shook off a body bump like he was Adrian Peterson, and swooped in for a lefty dunk; the next time down LeBron (18 pts, 5 rebs, 8 asts, 4 stls) faced up and stuck a three in his man’s grill; then on the next trip he put his head down, drove into the lane and got himself to the line. The U.S. never relinquished the lead after that point, going into the locker room at halftime up 16 and pulling away for an eventual 119-82 demolition … There were some general assumptions we made about Team Spain that were proven wrong yesterday. First, we assumed they would protect the ball better than Greece. Then Pau led the turnover brigade with five, everyone who played for Spain had at least one turnover, and they ended the game having coughed the ball up 28 times. Second, we assumed Spain would knock down their shots. But the Michael Redd of their team, J.C. Navarro, went 0-for-5 from deep and the rest of the squad shot 6-for-28 beyond the arc. Third, we assumed Spain would play tough D. But the U.S. ended up having one of its best shooting games of the tournament, and at one point Doug Collins said, “They’ve just stopped playing defense.” Finally, we assumed Spain wouldn’t be intimidated by the U.S. While we wouldn’t necessarily say they played scared, in the second half their performance couldn’t be described as “gutsy.” Angola went harder than Spain after they fell into a large deficit … The last 20 minutes was basically a scrimmage. Dwight threw a block party, goaltending or not, ‘Melo hit a few threes (16 pts, 4 threes), D-Wade (16 pts) had a sick up-and-under dunk where he took off on the left side of the rim and flushed it on the right, and Jason Kidd even took a shot. We hope you TiVo’d J-Kidd’s third-quarter bucket, ’cause it might be the last time you see him shoot it until he’s wearing a Mavs uniform. We thought maybe Kidd had a bet going that he could go the whole tourney without shooting … Kobe was relatively quiet after getting into foul trouble early, finishing with 11 points and four turnovers. He did help lock down Rudy Fernandez, though, as the right-handed Manu clone had just eight points … Ricky Rubio played better defense on Chris Paul (14 pts, 8 asts, 5 rebs, 5 stls) than Jose Calderon did, even though he got his “Welcome to the NBA” moment when he was hassling CP full-court and got FLATTENED on a pick by Chris Bosh. Rubio (8 pts, 3 asts, 3 stls) was good, though. In the first half he hit Rudy Fernandez on a pretty one-hand lob that was something straight from a Steve Nash instructional video … Bosh (7 rebs, 2 blks) had some moments where he got worked on D by Pau Gasol (13 pts, 6 rebs), but he made one great play when Fernandez tried to hit Pau for a lob and Bosh just went up and swatted it out of mid-air … No doubt you’ve seen the new Nike Team USA commercial with the practice footage backed by the Marvin Gaye national anthem. Remember when Dwight Howard supposedly had a chest injury and missed the first U.S. practice? You don’t think he conveniently sat out so Nike could shoot their ad without having to worry about his three stripes getting in the way? … Some of the Spanish players had their first names on the back of their jerseys, like “Ricky” instead of “Rubio,” or “Marc” instead of “M. Gasol.” What if the NBA went XFL and just let players get whatever they wanted on their jerseys? We couldn’t wait to see what DeShawn Stevenson, Adam Morrison and Delonte West would come up with … Speaking of inappropriate, did you see Marc Gasol‘s free throw routine? While dribbling with his right hand, Marc is doing a Reggie Evans on himself with his left. If the NBA is cutting the cameras away whenever Sam Cassell does the “Big Balls” dance, how are they gonna handle Grizzlies’ broadcasts? … “How I Spent My Summer Vacaction,” by Carlos Boozer: In August, I went to China with my friends. We visited the Great Wall, and I pretended to be Ronny Turiaf when we went to the gym. … Doug Collins almost went the whole month without mentioning that his son played at Duke. Maybe next time … THANK YOU Mike Breen for saying what we’ve been saying all along with the Spain/China photo controversy: With all the players, team officials, photographers, photo assistants, etc. at the infamous photo shoot, there wasn’t ONE person who said, “You know, maybe this isn’t a good idea”? … Ben Gordon doesn’t want the Bulls’ money. BG says he’s not taking the $6.4 million qualifying offer, adding that “It’s safe to say I’ve played my last game in a Bulls uniform.” Unless Chicago does a sign-and-trade, the only team with any cap room is Memphis, but they can’t afford the $70-plus million he wants, nor would they give Gordon that kind of cash when they’ve already got O.J. Mayo at the two … Earlier on Saturday, Ginobili dropped 32 in Argentina’s win over Iran, in which 7-2 NBA prospect Hamed Ehadadi put up 21 points and 16 boards. Luis Scola added 20 points and seven boards … But the story of the day was Yao and Team China pulling off what’s being called the biggest win in national team history, beating Dirk and Team Germany. Yao had 25 points and 11 boards, while Yi Jianlian (9 pts, 11 rebs) played his best game so far, D’ing up Dirk effectively at times, albeit Dirk finished with 24 and 17 boards. Did you see Yao chilling in the stands afterwards watching the USA/Spain game and taking up about four seats? What do you think was on his iPod? He’s probably a huge Plies fan … We’re out like Boozer’s PT …
Smack / Aug 17, 2008 / 3:28 am
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