Monthly Archive for August, 2012

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Team USA Blows Out Nigeria

Just three minutes into Thursday’s Olympic group play game between Team USA and Nigeria, Kobe Bryant had already hit a three, a pull-up J and two free throws for seven points in a 13-0 run from which the Americans didn’t come close to looking back, ultimately setting scoring records with a 156-73 win.

The most the Dream Team had ever scored was 127, the U.S. record was 133 and the Olympic record 138. See ya.

By the 4:20 mark, Kobe had added a turnaround jumper, a contested three-pointer and a breakaway two-handed reverse flush to score 14 points in a 25-10 start before taking a seat on the bench. He was well on pace to hit his season high from the NBA season, 48 against Phoenix, but of course wouldn’t get the minutes.

His teammates, particularly Carmelo Anthony — who finished with a U.S. Olympic record 37 points behind 10 of 12 shooting from three — picked up from where Kobe left off. The Knicks wing pushed a ridiculous first quarter scoring total to 49 points as the Americans nailed 11 triples. That is not a typo.

Bryant played five more minutes in the second quarter, totaling just 11 in the game as the team continues to save his legs, adding another bucket to finish with 16 points plus three boards and two assists. He helped Coach Krzyzewski’s team take a 78-45 lead into halftime.

Team USA’s bench, albeit full of NBA All-Stars, played even better defense in the second half, holding Nigeria to 17 and 11 points in the third and fourth quarters.

Bryant played the role of head cheerleader in the second half, just as he did in the team’s previous win against Tunisia, ahead of Saturday and Monday games against Lithuania and Argentina.

The Americans finished with an absurd 59 of 83 from the field (71.1 percent) and 29 of 46 from three (63 percent), holding Nigerian to 41.2 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from three. Team USA assisted on 38 field goals, swiped 12 steals and forced 24 turnovers while committing just seven.

Group A leader Team USA matched the 3-0 records of Spain and Russia in Group B, and boy did they do it in style.

Gasol Leads Spain (3-0) Over Great Britain

With NBC Olympic hoops analyst Doug Collins repeatedly calling Pau Gasol the “best post player” in London, the Spaniard captained his country to a 79-78 victory over Great Britain, who made a late, desperate charge that came up just short.

Gasol finished with 17 points on 6 of 14 field goals with four assists, two rebounds and two blocks in the win, after scoring at least 20 points in Spain’s first two victories.

When Gasol wore Lakers colors last season, he often played in the high post so that Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant could get more low post touches. Gasol still got his share of touches on the block, but perhaps not as consistently as they come with Spain, which on Thursday allowed him to show his wide array of spins, up-and-unders and pull-up jumpers that make him so difficult to defend.

Gasol flashed his passing skills out of the low block as well, highlighted by a gorgeous no-look pass over his shoulder to his brother Marc, resulting in a dunk and a double-digit lead in the third quarter. His fourth assist came as soon as he checked back in with six-plus minutes in the fourth, a kick out of a double that got Jose Calderon a wide-open three to put Spain up 64-52.

Behind Bulls All Star Luol Deng, Great Britain cut the lead to three with 3:19 to play, before four straight Gasol points and 1-of-2 free throws from Marc Gasol made it a six-point game. The Brits responded again, however, with back-to-back buckets to cut it to just a two-point game, but a turnover got Spain a layup and 73-69 lead with 44.6 to play.

Deng nailed a three with seven seconds left – Britain’s third in the final two minutes – but the Brits couldn’t get to Jose Calderon in time to foul before time ran out.

Up next for Spain is a tricky test on Saturday against Russia, also 3-0, ahead of a Monday matchup with Brazil, the Spaniards looking to win Group B to make it likely they wouldn’t have to face Kobe Bryant and Team USA until a potential gold medal game.