Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Team USA wins the Gold 107-100 over Spain!

By Kshell

Team USA wins the Gold Medal for the second straight Olympics over Spain 107-100! Just like in 2008 Spain gave the United States all they could handle but the U.S. proved down the stretch they were mentally tough. The United States who only had a one point lead entering the fourth quarter saw several of the big time guys in Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Lebron James come through in the clutch. Durant set a record for most points scored in a championship game with 30 points as he became the single tournament record holder for points scored with 156 points. Kobe Bryant and coach Mike Krzyzewski ended their Olympic career with a gold medal as they both came into this program when Team USA had hit rock bottom. Then there is Lebron James who capped his magical season joining only Michael Jordan as the only player to ever win the regular season MVP, NBA Finals MVP and Gold Medal in the same season.

In the first quarter team USA came out shooting red hot as did Spain guard Juan-Carlos Navarro. The United States led 35-27 in the first quarter led by Kevin Durant scored 12 points on three for seven shooting with two three pointers while making four of five free throws. Carmelo Anthony continued his great Olympics with eight points on three for five shooting making both three point attempts. Lebron James didn't score but had four rebounds and three assists. While Navarro kept Spain in it with 14 points on four for six shooting making all three three point attempts. Los Angeles Lakers all-star power forward Pau Gasol scored six points, grabbed five rebounds with five assists. The United States made 7-10(70.0%) from three point range as it looked early on that the U.S. would put Spain away.

Spain opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run then eventually 14-2 run to take a 39-37 lead over the United States. In the second quarter Spain would outscore the United States 31-24 as the U.S went cold from the outside making just one for eight from down town. The second quarter saw a combined 25 free throws as the officials were calling a tight game. At halftime the United States led 59-58. Durant was their leading scorer scoring 17 points on just 4-12 shooting while two for eight from three pointers but seven for eight on free throws. James scored eight points on three for five shooting with six rebounds and three assists. Kobe Bryant scored six points hitting two three pointers. Anthony scored eight points on two three pointers. Deron Williams scored six points on two three pointers while Kevin Love scored nine points making five for six free throws with six rebounds. For Spain they led by Navarro scoring 19 points on 6-11 shooting making four three pointers. Pau Gasol scored eight points on three for eight shooting with six rebounds and five assists. Serge Ibaka scored five points all at the free throw line with five rebounds.

In the third quarter both teams traded leads before Kevin Durant hit a three pointer to give USA an 83-80 lead before leading 83-82 going into the fourth quarter. Both teams scored 24 points in the quarter. Durant scored 10 points in the third while Bryant scored seven points in the third quarter for team USA. For Spain who was without Marc Gasol the entire period as he picked up four fouls in the first half relied on his brother Pau and Serge Ibaka. Ibaka scored six of his 11 points in the third once again living at the free throw line making seven for nine. Pau Gasol dominated the third though as Spain kept pace despite not hitting a three pointer. Pau scored 15 points in the quarter giving him 23 points, six rebounds and seven assists after the third quarter. For team USA who scored 24 points had 21 of them come from James, Bryant and Durant as the rest of the team went cold. The United Stated they had a fight on their hands as their usual big third quarter over their opponents when they put teams away didn't happen. Spain due to Pau Gasol went toe to toe with the United States as the game remained a one point lead for the United States with only one quarter to go to see who wins the Gold Medal.

The fourth quarter began with the struggling Chris Paul going on a personal 5-0 run to give USA a 90-84 lead. Then with 7:11 left in the 4th quarter James picked up his fourth foul and had to go to the bench. After a Spain bucket, Durant would hit a three pointer to extend USA's lead to 93-86. Bryant would cap the 12-4 run with two free throws as USA led 95-86. After Navarro hit a three pointer and back to back turnovers by Bryant and Anthony the game was down to 97-91 when James entered the game with under three minutes to play. With 2:45 left in the game James blew by everyone for the dunk to extend USA's lead to 99-91, then with the shot clock winding down to cap his terrific season James knocked down the dagger three pointer to give USA a 102-93 lead. After Chris Paul made a terrific layup giving USA a 104-93 lead coach K started to celebrate as he knew his team was winning the gold medal.

For the United States this team was probably the best team assembled since the 1992 Dream Team. The United States shot 34-70(48.6%) from the field, 15-37(40.5%) from three point range and 24-31(77.4%) from the free throw line. Kevin Durant led team USA with 30 points on 8-18 shooting including 5-13 from three point range and 9-10 on free throws. He also added nine rebounds in the win. Lebron James scored 19 points on 8-13 shooting including a three pointer with seven rebounds and four assists. Kobe Bryant scored 17 points on 5-10 shooting including three for seven from three point range while making four of five free throws. Chris Paul scored 11 points on four for nine shooting with two three pointers and three steals. Kevin Love scored nine points on two for three shooting and made five of six free throws. He also provided great defense in the fourth quarter and had nine rebounds. Carmelo Anthony scored eight points on three for nine shooting including two for six from three pointers with five rebounds and three assists. Deron Williams scored six points hitting both three point field goals he attempted. The United States held off a tough Spain team for the gold medal for the second straight Olympics.

As for Spain they were led by the Gasol brothers. Pau Gasol finished with 24 points on 9-17 shooting making six of eight free throws. He also grabbed eight rebounds and had seven assists. His brother Marc Gasol scored 17 points on 8-10 shooting in only 17 minutes as he fought foul trouble picking up his fourth foul in the second quarter. Juan-Carlos Navarro scored 21 points on 7-17 shooting including four for nine from three point range. Former Trail Blazer Rudy Fernandez scored 14 points on three for seven shooting with a three pointer and made seven for eight free throws. He also provided six rebounds. Serge Ibaka who now lost the NBA Finals then the Gold Medal game much like Pau Gasol did in 2008(Pau would win the next two NBA titles though) scored 12 points on two for five shooting but made 8-10 from the free throw line while adding nine rebounds. Spain's early shooting and their front court kept them in the game until the end. Ultimately they didn't have an answer for all that firepower that the United States has.

In 2004 the United States had reached rock bottom as they finished 3rd in the Olympics. It wasn't only the finish that was embarrassing but the lack of pride that comes with it when playing for your country was evident. This team won the gold back in 2008 and during this tournament challenged the 1992 Dream Team for best team ever assembled. The United States team with so many great players seem to have no conflicts despite being rivals. Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are the three faces of the league and will be fighting with each other to win championships in the next couple of seasons yet they played so well together. The United States often blew out their opponent and the two times they were challenged there was no panic. Bryant and Durant stepped aside and let James carry them home to the gold. That's what made this gold so special everyone on the roster for the most part knew their role and they perfected their role. This might be the last time NBA players play in the Olympics and if that is the case what a way for this group to go out. The United States for the second straight Olympics is the Gold Medal winner! For that I'm proud to be an American.


- Kevin Durant established himself as one of the greatest scorers in basketball history with these Olympics. Even today when he was struggling he still scored 30 points and hit five three pointers. Durant score more points than any U.S. player in Olympics history scoring 156 points beating former Sonics great Spencer Haywood's record of 145 set in 1968. Durant also set the single tournament record for 34 three pointers.

In the Olympics Durant averaged 19.5 PPG and 5.8 RPG. He shot 48.5% from the field while making 34-65(52.3%) from three point range making 4.3 three pointers a game. He also made 24-27(88.9%) of his free throws. Durant who has won the last three scoring titles showed why he is a terrific shooter. Today he struggled and still shot 8-18(44.4%) from the field and made 9-10 of his free throws. He still made five three pointers. Durant who is the second best player in the NBA showed the entire world that when it's all said and done he will go down as the greatest scorer this game has ever seen.

- What a year for Chris Paul. Paul who was originally traded to the Los Angeles Lakers had the trade vetoed only to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers instead. Paul finished the year 3rd in the MVP race as the Clippers won only their second playoff series since moving to Los Angeles. Paul struggled though against Spain for most of the game then took over in the fourth quarter. He began the fourth quarter hitting a three pointer and went on a 5-0 run to give the United States a six point lead. After that run by Paul the game was never in doubt again. Then to end the game Paul ran down the clock then drove by the Spain defenders for a layup using all of the 24 second shot clock which clinched the victory for team USA. Paul finished with 11 points scoring eight of them in the fourth quarter. He hit two three pointers as he was a terrific shooter during these games.

For the Olympics Paul averaged 8.3 PPG, 5.1 APG and 2.5 steals per game. He shot 51.0% from the field and made 13-28(46.4%) of his three pointers good for 1.6 a game. Paul once again showed everyone why he is the best point guard in the league. Whenever this debate comes up I have never once back off my stance that it is Chris Paul. That is why when the game was on the line coach K had Paul running the point.

- I felt like with all the clutch scoring going on in the fourth quarter Kevin Love's defense is forgotten. Love did what defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler couldn't do which was slow down Pau Gasol. Gasol who was abusing the United States for the first three quarters finished with only one point in the fourth. Love finished the game scoring nine points while grabbing nine rebounds. Love throughout these Olympics showed he was the best big man on the roster.

Love during these Olympic games averaged 11.6 PPG and led the team with 7.6 RPG. He shot 63.0% from the field and made 8-22(36.4%) from three point range good for one full three pointer a game. Love is often forgotten about because he is stuck up in Minnesota. I think the whole nation now realizes how good Kevin Love is. If you aren't counting Lebron James as a power forward then clearly Kevin Love is the best power forward in the game. Love gave the United States a good big man who can rebound while also the ability to knock down the open shot. I think on a team full of stars years from Love's contributions to this team and in particular this win will be forgotten which is too bad. I don't think the United States wins the gold medal if not for Love stepping up the way he did during these games.

- The player who benefited the most from this games perception wise was Carmelo Anthony. Although Anthony only scored eight points and was held scoreless in the final three quarters his role in these games was huge. Anthony during these games averaged 16.3 PPG and 4.8 RPG in 17.8 minutes. He shot 53.5% from the field and made 23-46(50.0%) of his three pointers which was good for 2.88 three pointers a game. During these Olympics Anthony become the all-time three point shooter making 41 career three pointers. Anthony proved that he is still an elite player in this league and he can score with the best of them. After starting in 2008, he came off the bench during these games mainly due to Durant being a star now. Anthony constantly provided scoring off the bench and set a U.S. record with 37 points and 10 three pointers in only 14 minutes in the historic win over Nigeria. Anthony silenced a lot of his critics and hopefully this upcoming year he can lead the New York Knicks out of the first round.

- Kobe Bryant had a terrific week first with his Los Angeles Lakers acquiring Dwight Howard, then seeing teammate Pau Gasol not traded then perform well these Olympics. To capping the week off with winning the Gold Medal. After struggling to start these Olympics Bryant started to show he still has plenty of game. In the fourth quarter Bryant had a huge put back and really played within the team game. Bryant scored 17 points on 5-10 shooting hitting three three pointers. There was no ego time for Bryant either he had no problem delegating the scoring to Lebron James or Kevin Durant.

During these Olympics Bryant averaged 12.1 PPG while shooting 42.9% from the field. Where he did most of his damage was beyond the arc where he shot 17-39(43.6%) from three point range making 2.1 three pointers a game. Bryant announced this was his final game for Team USA. For Bryant who joined the team in 2007 he never lost a game while wearing the team USA jersey. In an era when so many superstars didn't want to play for team USA he was the first guy who was in his prime to make playing for team USA cool again. Bryant really won over my respect during these games as he proved he can play a team game. He didn't let his ego get in the way either he may have said he is the best player on the team but he had no problem letting James take control of this team. For Bryant if he never plays an NBA game again he'll be one of the top 10 greatest players in NBA history. With the addition of Howard, Bryant has a chance to be top five all-time when all said and done.

- The players who have won NBA regular season MVP, NBA Finals MVP and a gold medal in the same season are Michael Jordan and Lebron James. That is it folks that is the company James finds himself in. After a terrific 19 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists performance on 8-13 shooting James cemented his legacy. I would put James in the top 10 of all-time already and I have a feeling when he retires he'll be only behind Jordan. What a year James has had as he carried the Heat to the championship then carried team USA. In both close games it was James who carried the team down the stretch. James who was third on the team in scoring, second in rebounds and first in assists while playing center for a big chunk of minutes.

In these Olympics James averaged 13.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 5.6 APG. He shot an incredible 60.3% from the field while making 0.75 three pointers a game. He also had a 5.6 assist to turnover ratio. After the game James didn't want to talk about himself but instead how much this means to the United States. Like Anthony, James was on the 2004 team who took home the Bronze medal. James although he didn't play much experienced the pain of that tournament. In 2008 it was viewed as Kobe Bryant's team as he bailed out team USA in the fourth quarter vs Spain. While this year was the year of Lebron James and even his harshest critics have realized he is the best in the game. James grew up a lot this year which I wrote about after he had won his first NBA title . James right now is in his prime right now and there is nobody even close right now to challenging him for the best player in the game not even Kevin Durant. James during these games showed how versatile he can be in becoming the first American and only second Olympian to ever record a triple-double in a game. Like I wrote in that piece right now this is Lebron James league and he is finally mature enough to accept that responsibility.

- Despite not coaching a single player on this roster and being a career college coach every player on this team loves Coach K. When team USA was embarrassed in 2004 Jerry Colangelo knew the way team USA was built was broken. He hired coach K and they made this team full of all-stars into a team. The "redeem team" was made and most played during 2006 world games where they were upset to Greece to take third. In 2007 with the addition of Bryant the United States hasn't lost since. Coach K is 62-1 in international play as a coach and he was also an assistant on the 1992 Dream Team. He also won't be coaching team USA anymore.

He took over team USA when they were rock bottom and has now put them at their rightful spot at the top. The graduate of West Point and coaching legend at Duke University made America proud again. He did a great job of managing the ego's of this team and making everyone buy into the team aspect. I don't think that he got enough credit for that. Durant, Bryant and James are all alpha dogs and the best in the game yet they played so well together. In 2008 there was no problem either as he had a superstar Dwyane Wade come off the bench or these Olympics Anthony who started in 2006-08 come off the bench. Coach K truly is the straw that stirs the drink for team USA and replacing him is going to be a tough decision. One thing is for sure he may not have coach any of these guys in college but you couldn't tell one bit. Just shows how highly respected he is and how much this team enjoys basketball. This might not be the greatest team ever assembled but man was this the funnest team to watch since the 1992 team. Coach K took the Herb Brooks attitude of "I don't want the best players but I want the right players" which is what this team was all about thanks to coach K.

This was a terrific win for the United States seeing them win the Gold once again. A roster full of millionaires who have plenty of accomplishments seeing them so joyful over this Gold Medal was truly refreshing to see. See rivals James, Bryant and Durant play so well together on the court was nice to see. There was no ego's on this team and everyone appeared to have known their role. This is why I was so glued to watching these games and loved every minute of it. This is why despite being up only one point heading into the fourth quarter I didn't panic. Neither did these guys as nobody tried to carry the team themselves. It was a collective effort from Chris Paul, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Love. While Carmelo Anthony had contributed all Olympics as well as Deron Williams. The game ended with Anthony Davis grabbing the rebound as he became the youngest guy to ever win an Olympic Gold medal. As a freshman he was college basketball player of the year, won a national championship, was #1 pick overall in the NBA Drat and now has a gold medal. This experience alone will help make Davis a star in this league someday as he'll probably start at center for the 2016 version. This win was so special and I can't say enough for how I felt as a basketball fan watching these Olympics. This current group of players is why the NBA is so interesting today. It really is hard to hate basketball after watching these Olympics. I'm proud to be an American as the United States once again is the Gold Medal champs!

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