Thank you, Kevin Durant.

Kevin Durant of U.S. (C) is surrounded by team mates as they celebrate their victory against Turkey after their FIBA Basketball World Championship final game in Istanbul, September 12, 2010.  REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

In case you missed it with all the hullabaloo surrounding the first Sunday of the NFL season, Team USA’s so-called “B-Team” beat host nation Turkey in the finals of the 2010 FIBA World Championship, 81-64, earning an automatic bid to the 2012 Olympics in London.

The team’s defense deserves a lot of credit for its gold medal run — Jim Boeheim said that he thought this team played better D than the 2008 Olympic team, which is saying something — but offensively the team would have been lost without Kevin Durant.

What the 21-year-old did on international basketball’s biggest stage is pretty amazing. He averaged 22.8 points — no other U.S. player averaged in double figures — and 6.1 rebounds, while shooting 55.6% from the field, 45.6% from long range and better than 91% from the free throw line. Many NBA players have trouble with the international three-point line, but Durant can shoot from anywhere and he proved that in Turkey. Moreover, he did it as the team’s overwhelming #1 offensive option. No other player even took half as many shots as he did, so he was able to shoot almost 56% even though defenses were trying desperately to stop him.

And he saved some of his best basketball for last, dropping 28 points (on 10-for-17 shooting, including 7-of-13 from 3PT) on Turkey in the title game. It was funny to watch the demonstrative Turkish fans in the stands throw up their hands in frustration as he hit three after three.

His defense still needs some work, but offensively, there’s no better scorer on the planet. It’s going to be interesting to see how Mike Krzyzewski fits him in alongside Kobe, LeBron and Dwyane Wade, assuming they all play in 2012.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

The final moments of Turkey/Serbia

If you’re wondering if the FIBA World Championship means anything to the host nation of Turkey, check out the final minute or two of Turkey’s semifinal win over Serbia.

Team USA faces Turkey at 2:30 PM ET today (on ESPN) in the title game and will no doubt face their toughest test yet. The crowd will be as hostile as the Cameron Crazies.

USA/Lithuania on ESPN Classic? Thanks for nothing, Worldwide Leader.

All right, I don’t know how many of our readers actually get ESPN Classic, but I don’t. I’d have to pay an extra $50 a month for DirecTV’s Premier Package to get ESPN’s grumpy grandpa.

The U.S. men’s basketball team plays Lithuania in the semifinals of the 2010 FIBA World Championship on Saturday morning and the game is only going to be broadcast on ESPN Classic.

Of course, all of the main ESPN channels (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) are packed with college football on Saturday morning, so if nothing else, this is just poor planning by the network. They could have worked out a deal with NBATV to simulcast the game, but they didn’t.

It does appear that will stream the game for those that want to watch it live. Watching the game on the computer isn’t the same as watching it in HD, but it’s something. Of course, the game says it’s “subject to blackout,” so I’m not even sure that’s an option.


Saturday Update: Yay! ESPN2 will be broadcasting the game…13.5 hours later. You can catch a rebroadcast of the game at 1:30 ET Sunday morning on ESPN2. Way to step up, ESPN. (Sarcasm.)

Saturday Update #2: is only available to those who subscribe to an ESPN-affiliated internet subscriber, and my service — Time Warner — does not fall into that category. Woo-hoo!

Was Coach K out of line?

Mike Krzyzewski head coach of U.S. gestures during their FIBA Basketball World Championship game against Tunisia in Istanbul September 2, 2010.   REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Adrian Wojnarowski thinks Mike Krzyzewski’s response to Russian coach Mike Blatt’s comments about the ’72 gold medal game was out of line.

Long story short, Blatt (who holds dual citizenship in Israel and the United States) said that he thought the Russians deserved to win that controversial gold medal game 38 years ago. Coach K said that Blatt was a “Russian” (for coaching the Russian team) and that Blatt’s opinion was something of a “fairy tale.”

Enter Wojnarowski and his soap box…

To get past the dogged, undermanned Russians, Krzyzewski riled up that old Russian hate for his players and the public. It sniffed of desperation, but Duke’s coach isn’t taking the chance of becoming the first national coach in history to fail in winning consecutive world championships. Never mind the myth of sportsmanship in international basketball, Krzyzewski used up and spit out a most disposable Blatt.

Krzyzewski played the patriotism card to his advantage with Team USA, and yet later didn’t want the accountability of its ownership.

[Kryzewski] would get [the win], but not before sacrificing the good name of Blatt. When it was over, Krzyzewski gushed about Blatt’s genius, but that was easy at the game’s end. He had tagged him as a non-American for coaching those Russians, and labels are hard to shake when they come out of the mouth of a Hall of Fame coach. Yes, we’re friends, Coach K said. Friends, indeed. What a desperate, low-rent stunt.

Count me among those that find it very odd when national teams are helmed by coaches not from the same country. I just don’t get it. So Blatt’s coaching the Russian team seems strange to me, and when I first heard Coach K’s comments, I didn’t have a problem with them. Of course Blatt is going to say that the Russians deserved to win that gold medal. He knows where his bread is buttered.

Blatt, of course, says he came to this conclusion independently, after watching a documentary about the game. Fine. But he’s the one that brought the subject up and Krzyzewski responded. It’s still painful subject for USA Basketball and Blatt was the one who started the conversation.

USA beats Russia, 89-79

Team USA struggled in the first half for all the same reasons why they generally struggle in international play: poor shot selection and one-on-one play on the offensive end. Russia hit its threes in the first two quarters and actually led by five deep into the second quarter. The U.S. led by five at halftime, and pulled away with a huge third quarter that was spearheaded by Russell Westbrook’s defense.

The Americans managed the game down the stretch and won somewhat comfortably. On the whole, it was a good win for the U.S., but the stretches of mediocre play are worrisome.

Kevin Durant led Team USA with 33 points.

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