Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Durant explodes in 3rd quarter as Team USA trounces Argentina 126-97
For the second straight game the United States was in a battle with their opponent at halftime. With the United States only leading 60-59 at halftime against Argentina a team they struggled beating in an exhibition game two weeks ago it was looking like the U.S. was going to be upset. Then Kevin Durant scored 17 of his game high 28 points in the third quarter as the United States outscored Argentina 42-17 to put the game away. The United States ended pool play going 5-0 as they were the only team to go unbeaten in pool play. Now the tournament begins where it is single elimination. The United States had moments where they were tested in these five games but they also had moments of pure dominance. When the United States is making their three point shots nobody in the world can stay close with them. The U.S. just has too much fire power on their roster for other countries to keep up.
The United States is 5-0 but has struggled in four of the five games in the first half. The key is the United States is so talented they can turn it on at any moment led by Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony during these Olympics. When someone has an off night they have so many weapons who can pick up the slack. With running James at center that allows the United States to have five guys on the court who can all hit three pointers, score in the paint and the ability to create turnovers on defense. The United States wants to keep attacking pushing the score as nobody can keep up with the. They want games to be a track race as nobody can keep up. In the future I'm sure teams will try to stall the ball a little bit more and work the clock to slow the United States down. For now the United States showed they are still the best in the world as they won their 47th international game in a row.
- Chris Paul finally had a break out game. Paul finished with 17 on six for seven shooting including five for six on three point shots. He also had seven assists. For Paul who finished 3rd in the MVP race this past season he had struggled early on but has picked up the last couple of games which has been nice to see. Paul during these Olympics is averaging 7.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG and leading the team with 5.8 assists per game. He is shooting 15-29(51.7%) from the field and 8-17(47.1%) from three point range. With Paul playing well to go along with James, Anthony and Durant this team is dangerous. The United States just needs another super star to get his game going.
During these Olympics Bryant is averaging 9.4 PPG, 1.4 RPG and only 0.8 APG. He is shooting 14-36(38.9%) from the field and 5-16(31.3%) on three point attempts. During this past year despite making all-NBA first-team Bryant only shot 43.0% from the field and shot 30.3% from three point range. Perhaps he no longer is that superstar that we view him as. Perhaps he only is a top 10 player instead of being discussed as the best player. Eventually every player loses the battle to age and I'm wondering if we are witnessing that battle right now in front of our eyes as Bryant doesn't appear to be playing like the player he was say the last Olympics when he was in his prime years.
During these Olympics Durant is averaging 18.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 3.8 APG showing his all around play. He is shooting 29-56(51.8%) from the field and a ridiculous 20-33(60.6%) from three point range. He has also made 15-17(88.2%) from the free throw line. Durant is making four three pointers a game while making 3/5's of his three point attempts. He is 6'10", quick and athletic while also being the best shooter in the entire world. Nobody in the NBA can guard him let alone international players who have never been known for their defense. With Durant playing in midseason form the United States might have a scare here or there but I don't see this team losing a game.
Now that pool play is over it is on the medal round where if you lose you are done as it is single elimination. No more screwing around for the United States and letting teams hang around. They must come out early and put these countries away so they don't even think about trying to put a scare into them. The United States is clicking on all cylinders with so many weapons and so many different ways to beat you. The NBA has evolved into an international style of play which is why this current USA team is built for this play. The United States who couldn't buy a three pointer back in 2004 are now the most deadly three point shooting team in the Olympics. The U.S. basically plays two guards and three forwards which all three forwards can also play guard. The United States has so many different lineups they can run with it is scary and now that it is single elimination look for coach K to settle more on a rotation which means more minutes for Durant, James, Bryant, Paul and Anthony which can only mean one thing for the world which is trouble. The United States blew out a good team in Argentina a team that they'll perhaps have to face for a third time in three weeks this Friday if both teams win their Wednesday game. For the U.S. they have proven they are battle tested and can beat you in so many different ways.