Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lebron James records first triple-double in USA Olympic History as USA defeats Australia 119-86

By Kshell

Team USA advances to the semifinals to take on Argentina after defeating Australia 119-86 led by Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. Lebron James dominated the game despite only attempted seven field goals when he scored 11 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out 12 assists becoming the first guy in USA Olympic play to record a triple-double(second overall done in 1976). As for Kobe Bryant after being held scoreless in the first half he erupted scoring 20 points including 12 in the fourth quarter as he hit six three pointers. The Australians had played the United States competitive most of the game but the United States once again was too much for their competition.

The United States got off to a good start outscoring Australia 28-21 in the first quarter led by Kevin Durant with six points on two three pointers. While Lebron James had two points, six rebounds and three assists. Former Portland Trail Blazer Patty Mills scored eight points. In the second quarter USA outscored Australia 28-21 again to lead 56-42 at halftime. For the United States they were led by James who scored seven points while grabbing 10 rebounds with six assists. Deron Williams led all scorers with 13 points hitting two three pointers. Kevin Durant scored nine points hitting three three pointers. Carmelo Anthony scored eight points while Kevin Love added five points and five rebounds. For Australia Mills scored 12 points hitting two three pointers with four rebounds. Joe Ingles scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds as well. Australia was just simply hanging around with the United States hoping to prevent a blowout.

Australia began the second half on an 11-0 run to close the game to 56-53. After a Durant three pointer to put the lead back to 59-53 the Australians hung close. It was 64-58 when Kobe Bryant who was 4-22 in his previous 10 quarters finally woke up. Bryant hit back to back three pointers to stretch the lead to 70-58. After each team scored 28 points in the third quarter it was 84-70 heading into the 4th quarter. That is when the United States put the game away outscoring Australia 35-16 which was highlighted by Bryant. Bryant in the fourth quarter would hit his third three pointer of the game giving him 11 points. Then later in the fourth on three consecutive possessions Bryant drilled three pointers giving the United States a commanding lead. Bryant would finish the game with 20 points and six three pointers as the United States just let loose after those three pointers. James had a great behind the back pass for an easy dunk while James Harden had a great alley-oop dunk. The Americans put this game away as they advance to the semi-finals against Argentina who defeated the United States in the semi finals back in 2004.

The Australians finished the game shooting 32-71(45.0%) from the field, 9-22(40.9%) on three pointers. They were led by Patty Mills who scored 26 points on 9-20 shooting having made four three pointers. Joe Ingles scored 19 points, had eight rebounds and six assists. For the United States they made 39-86(45.3%) of their field goals, 19-46(41.3%) on three pointers and 22-32(68.8%) from the free throw line. They out-rebounded Australia 52-42 with 20 offensive rebounds. They were led by Lebron James who scored 11 points on three for seven shooting with a three pointer, a team leading 14 rebounds and a team leading 12 assists(first to do that since Michael Jordan in 1992). Kobe Bryant led team USA in scoring with 20 points on 6-14 shooting including 6-10 on three pointers. Deron Williams scored 18 points with three three pointers. Kevin Durant scored 14 points on just 5-13 shooting but still made four three pointers with five rebounds. Carmelo Anthony scored 17 points on 6-12 shooting with two three pointers. Kevin Love recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds with eight being offensive. Chris Paul scored seven points hitting a three pointer with three assists and five steals. While James Harden added seven points late with a three pointer. Team USA turned it on down the stretch to put this game away.

The United States once again allowed their opponent to hang around but the after the game got scary 56-53 the U.S. outscored Australia 63-33 the rest of the way. The dominance by the Americans in such a short spurt shows what we all know that this team can score in a hurry. This team has too many weapons and are just two games away from winning the gold medal for the second straight Olympics after the embarrassment of 2004. Unlike years past the United States is best three point shooting team along with being the most athletic team. What they lack in size they make up for in being long athletic guys who can all drain three pointers. Team USA also has Lebron James and Kevin Durant playing their best ball right now which helps. If that second half is just the start of things to come for Kobe Bryant then these Olympics are officially over as the United States won't be challenged.


- In the first half Kobe Bryant was held scoreless. In the previous two games Bryant had shot a combined 4-17 and was 0-5 in the first half. Bryant was getting killed by everyone on twitter during this time and even those who aren't big fans of his were even feeling for him. It was looking to be that awkward moment where we are witnessing with the entire world to see the fall of Kobe Bryant as being an elite basketball player.

Instead Bryant hit a couple of three pointers then in the fourth quarter with the United States leading pretty comfortably he put the dagger in with four three pointers. After being held scoreless Bryant led the United States in scoring with 20 points hitting six three pointers. The United States needs Kobe to be Kobe  in these next two games. Bryant has a lot of pride and this was the first game he actually played some minutes. Bryant showed the whole world, this country and more importantly his teammates that yes he can still have his Kobe Bryant moments. Hopefully this was the start of something special for Bryant and not just one last chapter in his career of being a premium player on team USA.

- Pretty incredible that in a game that featured Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook the best point guard on the court was former Blazer Patty Mills. Mills carried Australia scoring 26 points on 9-20 shooting including making four for nine from three point range. He also had six rebounds and proved he can play with the best in the NBA. Mills who was picked up late in the year by the San Antonio Spurs is just looking for a chance as he dominated college ball at Saint Marry's. Mills was too quick for the United States guards and hitting his shots. When Australia had the game down to 56-53 it was because of Mills. Even though Australia eventually lost by 33 points for Mills this had to be a moral victory. He proved he can play with the big boys in this league which will give him a role in this league. He is also on the perfect team who has a habit of turning cast offs into good solid role players. Once again it appears Portland made a mistake in judging talent while the Spurs will reap the benefits.

- Kevin Durant struggled some in this game only 14 points on 5-13 shooting. He did still make four for nine from three point range and did grab five rebounds. Durant is having a terrific Olympics as he is averaging 17.8 PPG making four three pointers a game. Durant provides great height and is such a great shooter. When Lebron James is playing at his best it's almost unfair when Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant are making their shots as it becomes too easy for the United States to score. Durant also hit a big three pointer when the game was cut to 56-53.

For Durant who plays in a small market(should be in Seattle) this is his chance to show that he is the next generation of superstar talent. Durant will eventually try to be Lebron James biggest rival in the NBA Finals. He is a great scorer and in these games has been automatic from three point range.

- I said Durant could eventually try to be James biggest rival because right now there is nobody even close to challenging James for best player in the world. James showed why he is such a great player because he dominated a game despite taking only seven field goal attempts. James scored 11 points but showed how versatile he is with 14 rebounds and 12 assists. He had the third most rebounds for an American in an Olympic game while having tying the record for assists with 12. James is mostly playing center during these games yet is setting up his teammates averaging over five assists a game during these Olympics. James not seen since Magic Johnson can dominate a game without having to attempt double digit field goals. James recognized early on Australia was going to double him so he fed his teammates who hit 18 three pointers(James also hit a three pointer himself). James has shown he can be clutch and is the best all around player in the game. The gap between the best player and the second best player hasn't been this wide since Jordan in the 1990's. In a game where Bryant hit six three pointers it was James who won the headlines as he dominated this game from start to finish.

That is why this game was so special to watch you saw two all-time greats dominating the game in two different ways. For Bryant it was taking when he sensed that he was getting hot hitting four three pointers in the fourth quarter. For James it was recording the first triple-double in Olympic history. He dominated the game by dominating the boards and looking for open teammates to make three pointers. For fans of the game it had to have been fun watching these two guys performing at such a high level. As long as James is playing 30 minutes a game there is no way the United States is losing during this tournament. The United States has been tested but always respond with a big haymaker punch of a run which always put their opponent away. For the United States they just need two more victories to put their place in history which is on par with the 1992 Dream Team. There will always be a debate but for the first time there is actually a team worthy of a debate with that 1992 team. This team is something special and I've had a great time watching basketball played at such a high level during these Olympic games.

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