After blowing out the Dominican Republic, Team USA looked unstoppable. However, in the first quarter of their exhibition match against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao, a former teammate of LeBron James, and the Brazilian National Team kept Team USA from exploding. Well, that was just the first quarter. In the second quarter, Team USA outscored Brazil 20-5. Yeah, I know. But it may sound as if Team USA dominated, but unfortunately, for all the Americans, they didn’t really.
Unlike Team USA’s first game where the bench had most of the points and were the main reason for the blowout, it was the starters, mostly Miami Heat forward LeBron James, took the spotlight last night as starting forward James, who starts for the team, doused Brazil with a game-high 30 points and also managed to pull down 6 rebounds, which was a team-high for Team USA.
In the first quarter, Brazil led by as much as 10 points and right from the get go, they were hot, specifically on the inside. Beautiful pass after beautiful pass, Team USA looked confused and simply had no answer in the first quarter. Despite that, as the 2nd quarter began, Team USA solved that problem with defense, something most NBA teams are now trying to build around. You know what they say, “defense wins championships” and for this Olympic team “defense will win them a gold medal.”
Team USA was never really able to demolish Brazil as the taller Brazilians were able to keep the game within striking distance. Unfortunately, down 10 or 12 points against Team USA, is pretty hard to come back from. Now-Washington Wizards big man Nene was battling New York Knicks‘ center Tyson Chandler for the most part of the game inside and neither big man would give an inch. Anderson Varejao kept Brazil in the game for the most part with his classic hustle plays and his never-say-die attitude. Brazil was able to cut the lead into single digits with 5 minutes to play in the fourth, but key mistakes by Brazil and key plays by LeBron James and the rest of Team USA, the Americans got the victory 80-69. Team USA also managed to win the game despite being out rebounded 38-30.
Aiding LeBron’s brilliant performance in front of the President of the United States and the First Lady at the Verizon Center in the nation’s capital, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who came off the bench for Carmelo Anthony, chipped in with 11 points and Los Angeles Clippers point guard, Chris Paul, had 10 points. For the Brazil, guard Alex Garcia led the way for the team with 14 points while Anderson Varejao put in 12 points.
Two starters for Team USA in New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant only scored 3 points and 8 points respectively.
Team USA will now be traveling to Manchester, England where they would continue their training for the highly anticipated 2012 London Olympics. The team will be playing an exhibition there at the Manchester Arena against Great Britain’s National Basketball Team on July 19 (Thursday). The game will be televised on ESPN2 at 7:10 PM.
For more NBA analysis and opinions, check out Theon’s general NBA blog at THEONBA!