The men’s basketball tournament at the Olympics has been the running story throughout the entire, 16-day extravaganza. Whether because of the proposed age limit that in fact won’t be place by Rio in 2016 or the hoops itself, basketball has been the storyline you can count on. And within that arc was one more, even steadier story: The United States was cleaning up this tournament. The lonely exception was a five-point pool play win over Lithuania. It turns out that exception helped the U.S. keep the rule intact. U.S. players talked about how much it helped to have some sort of a late-game challenge after the Americans won the gold medal on Sunday, beating Spain, 107-100. The game was frustrating to watch for both Spanish and American fans, what with Marc Gasol getting four fouls in the first half, to LeBron sitting down with his fourth early in the final quarter. The refereeing was, how do we say this, exactly what you think of when you think of international refs. It was hard to find a baseline of agreement for those calls and please don’t get us started about Rudy Fernandez‘s flop against Andre Iguodala. Then the U.S. went on and hit seven threes in the first quarter but still only led by eight after one. When Spain burst into a 12-2 run in the second they were up by two and officially making this a buckle-up type of final. … All hail Kevin Durant, though. His 30-point game was the first ever of that many in an Olympic final. Spain had to go to a box and one on him in the fourth, but then Chris Paul came back with two drives to the cup that blew that plan apart. Pau Gasol (24 points) did to the U.S. in the second half what everyone who saw the U.S.’ size problems saw coming. He had LeBron (19 points and a huge dunk and a triple in the final three minutes) guarding him in the last quarters until LBJ got in foul trouble. Pau was going after him and all comers, scoring the first 13 points of Spain’s second half. … Check out this year by LBJ: He’s the only player since MJ to win the regular-season and Finals MVPs, an NBA title and an Olympic crown in the same year. Plus, he debuted his LeBron X USA. Nice Nike looks there. …
Smack / Aug 12, 2012 / 11:00 pm
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