Redeem Team wins gold

The U.S. men’s basketball team accomplished its goal of winning a gold medal by defeating a feisty Spanish team, 118-107. I give credit to NBC for airing the game live even though it was on at 2:30 AM on the East Coast. It’s too bad that they didn’t plan to air it again later in the morning, because it was a great game.

With Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in foul trouble throughout the first half, the game was tight but Dwyane Wade came off the bench to score 21 points in the first two quarters to lead the Americans to a 69-61 halftime lead. Spain continued to fight back throughout the second half, eventually cutting the lead to two on a Rudy Fernandez long ball with 8:13 to play. It was gut-check time for the U.S.; they had allowed Spain to get back into the game with a combination of sketchy shot selection and poor defense and once again it looked like the Americans would be plagued by fractured play.

But down the stretch it was Kobe who took control, scoring eight points and dishing out a couple of assists over the next five minutes to build the lead to nine. Spain cut it to four with 2:25 to play, but Wade hit a clutch three to push the lead back to seven. Carlos Jiminez missed a wide-open three (after just knocking one down) that would have cut the lead to three with 1:33 to play, but Bryant hit a tough shot in the lane on the Americans’ next possession to effectively put the game out of reach.

Defense had been Team USA’s calling card throughout the Olympics, but save for a couple of key stops, they just didn’t have it tonight. Luckily, they were able to knock down their three-pointers (13/28, 46%), which is something that has hurt the U.S. in the past. Wade led all scorers with 27 points and had four steals. Bryant chipped in with 20, including those eight crucial points in the fourth quarter. LeBron James played a solid all-around game, posting 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Spain was led by Pau Gasol (22 points), Fernandez (21) and Juan Carlos Navarro (18). They were playing without Raptors’ point guard Jose Calderon, who was sidelined with a groin injury. (Fernandez joins the Portland Trailblazers next season and he looks like a star in the making. He’s just 23, stands 6’6″, and has a great jumper. He also handles the ball well and attacks the rim. He is starter-quality, but may come off the bench behind Jerryd Bayless and Brandon Roy.)

Hats off to Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski for putting together a team capable of winning the gold. For the most part, they set their egos aside and played together, which is necessary these days to have success at the Olympic level. Every player knew and played his role.

Now where does the program go from here? It will be interesting to see if USA Basketball pushes forward with the same philosophy or, with this success, if they get lulled into a false sense of security. I’m betting on the former, but you never know.

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

Jason Kidd plans to give his gold medal away…

…assuming the U.S. men’s basketball team wins, of course. It turns out Kidd’s medal is already spoken for.

His name is Steve Wynn. He’s a billionaire. And his wife, Elaine, is getting Jason Kidd’s gold medal if Team USA wins one more game in China.

“No, it’s not a (gambling) marker or anything like that,” Kidd said. “She’s just a great friend and a really great person.”

“Last summer, we stayed at the Wynn (resort) for a lifetime, close to three weeks,” Kidd said. “We met at a banquet, we got to talking, and she really understands the game.

“I told her I’d make a deal with her, that if we won the gold medal, I’d give it to her. She thought I was kidding. But I told her I had one already, and the way they treated us at the Wynn, it was the least I could do.”

So I’m trying to figure out this “deal” that Kidd is talking about. Did he stay at the resort for free and the gold medal is his way of paying Mrs. Wynn back? Really? It’s either that or he paid for his stay and doesn’t get anything in return for giving her the gold medal. This is apparently the “least” he can do. Hmm.

I guess the lesson here is that if you treat Jason Kidd well, he’ll give you things… like gold medals.

Redeem Team one step away from gold

Argentina figured to be one of the toughest tests for Team USA at these games, but the U.S. raced out to a 21-point lead in the early second quarter of the single-elimination semifinal. The first half was a tale of two quarters. The lead, coupled with an injury that knocked Manu Ginobili out of the game, made it easy for the U.S. to get complacent. Even without their star, Argentina is a good team and while the Americans were sleepwalking, the lead was cut to six just before the half.

The U.S. got its act together after a halftime tongue-lashing from Coach K, and won the game going away, 101-81. Carmelo Anthony led Team USA with 21 points, but it was a very balanced attack as seven Americans scored in double figures.

The U.S. moves on to face Spain in the gold medal game. Jose Calderon is iffy to play with a strained groin, and given the Americans’ dominance in the two teams’ first meeting, the Spaniards are really going to have to raise their game if they’re going to keep it close. The game is scheduled for 2:30 AM ET on Sunday morning, so check your local listings.

After a slow start, Redeem Team blows by Aussies

It wasn’t pretty during the first quarter, as the U.S. men’s basketball team struggled to make shots and to defend the three-point line. But a 14-0 run at the beginning of the second half broke the game open and the U.S. went on to win, 116-85.

Kobe Bryant led Team USA with 25 points on 10-16 shooting, including 4 of 7 from long range.

“Early in the game, they made a lot of tough shots,” U.S. point guard Chris Paul said. “We were doing what we were supposed to be doing and they made tough shots, but sooner or later we’ll impose our will. I don’t know if you can keep up with us for 40 minutes.”

LeBron James added 16 points for the Americans, who are guaranteed a chance to play for a medal. They need two more wins for their first gold medal in a major international competition since the 2000 Sydney Games.

The U.S. moves on to the semifinals where they’ll face Argentina, who nipped Greece, 80-78, in the first round of the elimination bracket.

The Argentineans figure to be Team USA’s toughest challenge in these Games. With Andres Nocioni, Luis Scola, Fabricio Oberto and Carlos Delfino, they have NBA-talent, and in Manu Ginobili, they have one of the best players in the world.

Redeem Team coasts by the Germans

Real German Dirk Nowitzki and fake German Chris Kaman were no match for the U.S. men’s basketball team, who trounced Deutschland, 106-57.

The U.S. is three wins away from its first gold medal since 2000. First up is Australia in the quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

The U.S. didn’t wait to dispose of the Germans. The U.S. jumped out to a 20-3 lead, with LeBron James capping the run with a dunk, a bucket and a 3-pointer.

The U.S. led 53-29 at halftime, and the rest of the night was garbage time.

Asked afterward what it will take to beat the U.S., the American-born German center Chris Kaman replied, “No one’s gonna beat ’em.”

Once again, defense was the story for the U.S. The Americans limited Germany to 30 percent shooting from the floor and forced 18 turnovers.

Team USA shot 42% from long range, which is encouraging, but they need to take that accuracy with them into the medal round. They still make careless passes at times, and their 13 turnovers against a team like Germany are too many.

On a side note, Chris Kaman has been criticized for deciding to play with the Germans in these Olympics. Even his dad isn’t happy about it. I’m not happy about it either. I think, in a way, he’s betraying his country. It’s a positive for Chris Kaman the basketball player to have the opportunity to play against good competition in the summer, but he’s working against U.S. interests. If you’re born and raised in the U.S., you’re not good enough to make the U.S. team, and even your dad says you shouldn’t play for another country, then you should probably just stay home.

U.S. begins the round of eight against Australia at 8 AM ET Wednesday morning (on the USA Network). The Aussies gave the U.S. men a tough game in a warm-up match, and they didn’t even have a healthy Andrew Bogut in that game. Argentina and Greece square off in the other quarterfinal on the Americans’ side of the bracket.

Related Posts