USA Men Coast To 97-76 Win Against Angola
The U.S. simply had too many weapons for Africa champ Angola to make the Tuesday game suspenseful, and behind Dwyane Wade's (Miami Heat) 19 points and five rebounds, the 2008 U.S. Men's Olympic Team (2-0) coasted past Angola (0-2) for an easy 97-76 win at Wukesong Arena in Beijing, China.
Along with Wade, three other U.S. players scored in double figures, including 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting from Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic), 12 points and six rebounds from Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) and 12 points, five rebounds and three steals from LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers).
Next up for the Americans is Greece on Thursday at 8:00 a.m. (EDT). The last time the two teams met was in the semifinals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship and Greece stunned the U.S. with a hard fought 101-96 victory.
'You have to play (Greece) with great intensity for 40 minutes,' USA and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the USA's next foe. 'Our guys already know that, but we'll reinforce that. It's a great game for us to play too to get ready for the medal round because we feel Greece has as good of a chance as anybody. That's how much we think of them.'
In a game that was not as close as the final score indicated, the USA continued its red-hot shooting percentage from the interior, shooting 70.0 percent from inside the arc (33-47 FGs), and remained frigid from deep, making just 5-of-21 tries from 3-point for a dismal 24.0 percent.
'I thought we played with really good energy and in spurts, we played some really terrific basketball,' Krzyzewski said. 'Our goal wasn't to win by a certain margin. It was to really work hard, keep up our pressure and once that was done, we just worked a few other things. But, the main thing was to keep some consistency. So overall, I was very pleased with tonight.'
'The Angola team really played hard tonight,' Wade said. 'They really came out and they made us really play our A-game. So, we want to thank them for playing a good, hard game. Our only thing was to get better, like we do every day, and I think we did that. We're proud of that and we're looking forward to moving on.'
Angola managed to keep pace with the U.S. starters early, and the game's first four minutes featured five lead changes and two knotted scores. At 6:00 minutes, however Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) dished to Howard who threw down a dunk that gave the USA a 10-9 advantage, and the Americans never again trailed.
The USA then scored a quick four points with an Anthony slam and a reverse layup from Howard, and the score was 14-9 when Coach K brought in his first subs at 4:00. Following a Howard goaltending call and more U.S. substitutions, the USA bench closed the first period with a 15-7 run to give the red, white and blue a 29-18 advantage after one.
Angola sank three 3-pointers in the first 4:30 of the second period to help counter a 3-pointer from Anthony, five points from Howard, including two monster dunks in transition, and an offensive put back from Michael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks), and the score was 39-27 at 5:31. From there James raced to nine more points during a 16-10 U.S. run, and the USA headed to the locker room with a 55-37 lead.
'I think we played well today,' James said. 'It would have been easy for us to come in and look past Angola tonight, but we didn't. We came in and took care of business and worked on some things that we needed to work on to get better for the rest of the tournament.'
As Coach K continued to rotate lineups, four of the five U.S. starters, including Bryant, Howard, James and Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks) played less than 7:30 in the second half, while Anthony tallied the most minutes of the starting five with 11:50. The USA outscored Angola 26-16 in the third, and the scoreboard read 81-53 headed into the final stanza.
With Angola down by 28 points headed into the fourth period, the U.S. took its biggest lead of the game, 33 points, at 7:50 when Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets) scored two of his six points. Angola refused to give up, however, and went on to outscore the USA 23-16 in the period to bring the final score to 97-76. The reigning FIBA Africa Champion also managed to out rebound the USA 38-34.
The USA defense continued to control the game. Forcing Angola into 25 turnovers, the Americans limited Angola to 39.1 percent (25-64 FGs) shooting overall, 29.0 percent (9-32 3pt FGs) from 3-point.
In Tuesday's other games, Group A saw Linas Kleiza tally 22 points and Sarunas Jasikevicius contribute 20 to help Lithuania (2-0) top Iran (0-2) 99-67; while Croatia (2-0), led by 22 points from Marko Popovic and 20 from Zoran Planinic, beat European Champion Russia (1-1) 85-78; and 21 points from Manu Ginobli propelled Argentina (1-1) past Australia (0-1) 85-68.
In Group B competition, 23 points from Vasileious Spanoulis led Greece (1-1) past Germany (1-1) 87-64, while Spain (2-0) needed overtime to earn a 85-75 win over China (0-2), with Paul Gasol recording 29 points and Rudy Fernandez adding 21 for Spain.
Olympic men's basketball preliminary round action is being staged Aug. 10-18. The U.S. continues preliminary play against 2006 World Championship runner-up Greece on Aug. 14 at 8:00 p.m. (all times listed are Beijing local times which is 12 hours ahead of EDT); 2006 FIBA World Champion Spain on Aug. 16 at 10:15 p.m.; and closes out preliminary play Aug. 18 at 8:00 p.m. against Germany, third place finisher at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The men's Olympic quarterfinals action takes place Aug. 20, semifinals play is slated for Aug. 22 and the Olympic men's gold and bronze medal games will be held Aug. 24.
Serving as 2008 USA Basketball Men's Senior National Team assistant coaches are Syracuse University and Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, New York Knicks head mentor Mike D'Antoni and Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan.