So Team USA has found their groove. It goes something like this: mess around for a few quarters, and then get one of their guys – preferably Carmelo, Durant or Kobe – hot and watch them drop bombs video game-style from the perimeter. It worked against their last few opponents, and they did it again yesterday in their 119-86 shellacking of Australia in the first medal round game. Team USA took an 11-0 Aussie run to the chin to start the second half, and we actually had a somewhat competitive game through three quarters. Then, the Yanks went on a 45-20 run to end the game, and it started with Kobe Bryant … For most of the game, Bryant looked like Bryant Stith on offense, continuing to brick jumpers (at one point, he was four for his last 21 shots) and when he wasn’t doing that, he was traveling (Part of Kobe’s problem has to be that for the first time in about five years, he’s playing in a jersey that actually fits him). Australia reeled off those 11 straight points to start the second half as Kobe’s struggles started to get almost comical. He was refusing to pass, refusing to run offense, and wouldn’t even share rebounds with Tyson Chandler. He was in straight-up F-this mode. Considering there’s been so many nut punches in these games, if we were going to have one in this game, Bryant was the runaway favorite to land one. Eventually, he banged two straight threes, Twitter exploded and he got a little of his swagger back. Then he made two more in a row on his way to 20 second half points and six triples, and the USA bench started jumping around like a bunch of little kids. He told Craig Sager afterwards he needed to come up with something to make him angry. We’re pretty sure it had something to do with TMZ … Meanwhile, LeBron made history by running up the first triple-double (11 points, 11 assists, 14 rebounds) in U.S. history, as well as passing Charles Barkley on a second quarter layup for the third-most points in U.S. National Team history. And he did all of that on only seven shots … A few of his highlights: LeBron had a ridiculous bounce pass in the post to Carmelo Anthony in the first quarter that resulted in a three-point play. A few minutes later, he did the same exact thing to Russell Westbrook. Then, early in the first quarter, Doug Collins also explained how he believed defense was the only way Jordan and LeBron are similar. Jordan was the best two guard on that end; LeBron is the best small forward. So if James is the best defensive small forward in the game right now, where does he stack up all time? … As for Australia, Patty Mills (26 points) banged his first two triples of the game, and two minutes in we got our answer to the question of who was going to guard him: no one. Technically, Kobe was on him, but not too closely. Australia was just trying to hang around, and could really only take away moral victories from this one. You get a layup off a defensive breakdown? That’s a fist pump. You draw a charge? The whole bench is up clapping. They muddied up the game – there were 19 fouls in the first 11 minutes – and were right there until the second half explosion from the Americans … Keep reading to hear about Nicolas Batum’s infamous nut punch …
Smack / Aug 8, 2012 / 10:17 pm
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