I’ve never dealt directly with a bookie, and I don’t know much about gambling, so I have to ask: Is there such a scenario where you’d lose money on “winning” bet? For today’s Team USA vs. Iran matchup, putting $100 on the U.S. to win should cost you at least and extra $50 just out of pure shame in trying to get over so easily.
While Iran did pick up a win yesterday to run their record to 1-2 in Group B, it’s safe to say they’ll be fortunate here to keep the margin under 30. I’m usually one to pull for the underdog, and while there’s a part of me that wants Iran to do well, let’s be realistic: Hamed Haddadi is by far the best player on the team, and he might be the worst player in the NBA. Meanwhile, he’ll be facing a trio of USA bigs in Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler and Lamar Odom who all at least possess All-Star-ish talent (even if not All-Star production) and would generally murk Haddadi in a head-to-head matchup on an NBA court.
Then again, this ain’t the NBA. Carlos Arroyo was a fringe player in the League when he famously gave Team USA the business in the ’04 Olympics, and Greece knocked off a loaded U.S. team in the WC in 2006 with a crew of non-NBA players. Not to mention, Brazil wasn’t exactly rolling out an NBA All-Star ballot when they nearly upset the U.S. earlier this week. So maybe this one will be competitive after all. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
- After the compelling disaster (I couldn’t turn away) that was yesterday’s NBA TV announcer for the Spain/Lithuania and France/Canada games, I am all about Fran Fraschilla and whoever the other ESPN guy is today. They can get the names wrong and say mildly ridiculous stuff all they want, so long as I don’t have to hear “Oh man, I love this game!” one more time from that clown.
- Danny Granger and Stephen Curry got DNP-CD’s against Brazil, while Eric Gordon and Kevin Love played about 5 minutes each. Let’s see if Coach K gives them extra time today in what should be a blowout.
- Before we start, I have to give a Happy Birthday shout-out to my Dad, who turns 50 today. I remember when I was in elementary and middle school and I had friends whose parents were in their 50′s; meanwhile mine were still in their 30′s. Now they’ve both turned 50 this year, I’m gaining on 30 myself, and I can’t imagine how I would have fared being responsible for two kids starting when I was 19. Props to my Pops for helping me get this far and hanging in there through the tough times we’ve experienced. Hopefully I’ve made you proud so far.
- Don’t think this is a one-man Iranian team. Arsalan Kazemi is a rising sophomore at Rice University. So that’s something.
- Starting lineup for the U.S.: Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Lamar Odom. The Americans start in mantoman, with Odom basically hugging Haddadi whenever he can get away with it.
- Durant gets the first bucket on a transition and-one at the 8:21 mark. Haddadi comes back on the other end with a lefty layup. Rose turns it over and Haddadi almost gives Iran the lead with a spinning banker, but he traveled.
- Fraschilla on Haddadi: “He’s a backup center at best in the NBA, but when you’re 7-2 and have a little bit of skill, you’re worth taking a chance on.”
- Mehdi Kamrani gives Iran the lead with a three, but KD responds with a triple of his own. 6-5, USA. Fraschilla’s announce partner already went to the “feisty” well in describing Iran once. What’s the over/under for this game?
- Why is Iguodala taking threes in transition? He made it, but still. Sixers fans don’t wanna see that.
- Tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. it’s Team USA vs. Tunisia, the only winless team in Group B and one of the teams which nobody can name any of the players.
- Haddadi slaps Tyson Chandler in the face on his way to the rim, and says either “Where’s the foul?” or “What the f***?” when the refs whistle him. He’s apparently learning quickly from NBA players.
- “This would be a moral victory for Iran if they keep it close through one,” Fraschilla says. “This is like a 15-2 seeded game in the NCAA Tournament.” It’s 14-10 with under three minutes to go.
- Rudy Gay gambles on defense and forces a turnover, leading to a breakaway dunk. That one worked, but I’m seeing a lot of the U.S. taking chances for steals, and that’s part of why Brazil almost beat them.
- Westbrook hits all glass on a layup, which sets up Chandler for a follow dunk.
- Fraschilla says he’s heard some teams might be throwing games soon in order to avoid certain teams in the Round of 16. He backs off a little and equates it to NFL teams resting their starters going into the playoffs, but now I’m expecting to watch games tomorrow seeing a bunch of Tony from Blue Chips work.
- Team USA is up 19-13, end of one. Moral victory for Iran.
- “Well, you know they’re gonna win the game,” Fraschilla says while breaking down the first quarter.
- On the floor for Team USA: Curry, Gordon, Westbrook, Chandler and Gay.
- Gordon hits a three and Westbrook scores off another turnover. This could be the group that blows the game wide open with their energy, pressure, and if Gordon and Curry start hitting jumpers.
- “This is basically a scrimmage,” says Fraschilla … “With all due respect” for Iran. That doesn’t sound like much due respect.
- I was gonna say Iran’s coach is too stressed out for this just to be a scrimmage, but then I saw he’s wearing jeans. So I’m guessing he’s chillin’.
- Kazemi, who just banged a three to make it 28-19 USA, is the first Iranian player to get a D-1 scholarship. As a freshman he averaged 10.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals at Rice.
- Lost the Internet for a while …
- Iran is always this/close to making something good happen. One of the guards will make a nice move getting into the lane, but his big man drops the pass. Or they’ll get a steal but somebody falls down to kill the fast break. Lots of good ideas, not so good execution.
- Rose comes flying into the lane but can’t get up high enough to dunk on Haddadi. He misses the layup, and Kazemi’s layup on the other end makes it 39-26, USA. Iran gets another stop but air-balls a three. (See what I’m talking about?)
- With one second left in the half, silly foul by Iran against Chauncey. He knocks down one. At halftime, it’s 43-28. Not the blowout everybody expected.
- Durant leads the U.S. with 10 points, while Haddadi leads Iran with 7 points. The turnover count is 13-10, Iran. While Iran is committing turnovers off bad decisions and wilting under pressure, the U.S. is just trying to be too fancy and create highlights.
- Rose gets his contractually-obligated up-and-under reverse layup to push the lead to 22. Haddadi finally gets Iran on the board this half with a baby hook after a good sequence of passing and off-ball movement. Haddadi and Rudy Gay should feel at home here; there’s like 15 people in the stands, much like his Grizzlies games.
- Nice crossover by Durant, but he and Rose can’t connect on a baseline pass. Another turnover. Odom then gives up an and-one layup to Kazemi. (Who Fraschilla compares to a mix of Omri Casspi and Wally Szczerbiak.) Still a 20-point game, though.
- I can’t think of an NBA player who misses more layups than Lamar Odom.
- Iguodala, Granger and Rudy Gay are among those on the U.S. team letting their hair grow, and it’s starting to show. Usually what you have is guys will either go bald (like D-Wade at the ’08 Olympics) or get it cut real low before they leave for overseas, and just let it grow during the tournament because they don’t want to fly their barbers out. Rudy tweeted the other day that he’ll be able to get braids by the time he comes back to America. This obviously isn’t a problem for Chauncey.
- Gordon passes up a three and turns it over trying to make the extra pass. Appreciate the thought, but that’s not why you’re on the team. Shoot the rock, EJ.
- End of three, 62-39, USA.
- Haddadi gets a classic “I’m just bigger than you” and-one on Rudy, screams in his face and starts laughing. Fraschilla points out for the 1,500th time that they’re teammates in the NBA. “He has no mobility,” Fraschilla says about Haddadi.
- If the U.S. is playing themselves rather than playing Iran, would you say they’re winning?
- Haddadi makes it rain with a high-arcing fadeaway in the lane. He’s starting to get it cooking, but too little too late.
- Highlight of the game for Iran: A streaking Kazemi catches it and (kinda) dunks on Rudy. Then Chandler makes everyone forget about it with a strong alley-oop finish.
- If I said a lot of the guys on Iran’s team look like bad guys I’ve seen in action movies, is that a racist statement by me, or a telling sign about what kind of movies we make in America?
- Garbage time means buckets time for Haddadi. He’s sticking pull-up jumpers, bring the ball up playing PG, and generally not taking this thing seriously anymore. Consequently, he’s playing better.
- Gordon tries to go baseline and end Haddadi’s career with a dunk, but misses. He then passes up another open jumper to make the extra pass and almost turns it over. Is the up-and-down playing time messing with EJ’s head? He needs to come out against Tunisia with an Antawn Jamison mindset. Shoot at everything that moves.
- Westbrook (again) gets the signature highlight, catching a lob from K-Love for a backwards dunk where his head was at the rim. Who do you think is going to be a better pro: Westbrook or Steph Curry?
- Final score, 88-51. You know who won. As Fraschilla said multiple times, this wasn’t so much a game against Iran as it was a chance for Team USA to work out their weak areas and get into a rhythm of just playing good basketball. Unfortunately, I don’t think they accomplished that goal. They had a ton of turnovers and shot the ball inconsistently.