USA Men Light Up Spain for 119-82 Win
In its fourth consecutive win and widest margin of victory yet, the 2008 U.S. Men's Olympic Team (4-0) proved it does have shooting range, sinking a U.S. Olympic record-tying 12 3-pointers to down Spain (3-1) 119-82 Saturday night at Wukesong Arena in Beijing, China.
The victory secured the USA claiming the No. 1 seed in Group A for the medal round quarterfinals, regardless of the outcome of its final preliminary game against Germany at 8 p.m. (8 a.m. EDT on USA, USA HD) on Monday, Aug. 18.
'We're really pleased with our effort. It's an honor to play against a great team. And, Spain has a great team,' said USA and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewksi. 'I thought they missed some open shots tonight. We made our open shots; that was a big factor in the game. We know it's a pool game. We know the importance of winning pool games, but the most important games are next week.'
Everybody scored for the USA, including eight players in double figures. LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) led the way with 18 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals; Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) shot 4-of-6 from behind the arc to help tally 16 points and six rebounds; and Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) added 16 points and six rebounds.
The USA also forced 28 turnovers, collected 16 steals and raced to 32 fast break points. Spain shot just 39.4 percent from the field (28-71 FGs), 21.4 percent from behind the arc (6-28 3-pt FGs) and recorded zero fast break points.
'We played an excellent team. It shows how far we have come,' James said. 'Defensively we were in tune, and when we get defensive stops, it allows us to get out and run, which we do best. We did a great job tonight and we just have to continue having the same effort every night we step on the court.'
Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets), who recorded 14 points, tied for a game-high eight assists, five steals and five rebounds, also shot 8-of-8 from the free throw line to tie the U.S. Olympic single game record for free throw percentage.
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) and Deron Williams (Utah Jazz) added 11 points each; while Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic) and Tayshaun Prince (Detroit Pistons) posted 10 points apiece; and Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors) collected seven rebounds.
'I like defense so forcing the number of turnovers we did I thought was the most satisfying thing for me,' Krzyzewski said. 'We had eight guys in double figures, but I thought Chris Bosh's performance was outstanding. He scored two points, but he had seven defensive rebounds and he anchored our defense. His defense led to us having confidence and playing passing lanes a little bit more.'
The USA took its first lead, 14-11, when James sank a 3-pointer with 4:48 on the clock. Two points from the free throw line from James were followed by seven more U.S. points, including an Anthony 3-pointer, and the U.S. lead had improved to 23-16 with 2:24 remaining in the first period. With Spain's fifth team foul at 2:18, Paul converted two free throws to kick of a 6-0 run that was capped by a fast break bucket from Wade to make the score to 29-16 with 1:42 remaining and Spain called its first timeout. Out of the break, Spain put together its own 6-0 run to bring the score to 29-22 with 40 seconds left in the quarter. Wade scored the period's final two points after he blocked a shot, collected the loose ball and drove the length of the court for a dunk that put the USA up 31-22 at the end of one.
Spain opened the second period in a zone defense, which completely failed to slow the U.S. offense. In the stanza's first 6:03 minutes the USA connected on four 3-pointers, including long ball's from Prince at 8:54, James at 6:28, Bryant at 5:59 and Williams at 3:57.
By the time Spain called a time out and reverted to man-to-man defense with 2:56 on the clock, the U.S. held a 54-36 lead and control of the game. Shooting 7-of-11 from deep in the first 20 minutes, the USA seven made threes and had equaled its best 3-point performance of the tournament by halftime.
But it wasn't just the long-ball that helped the USA outscore Spain 30-23 in the second period to take a 16-point, 61-45, halftime lead to the locker room. Also in the first 20 minutes, the USA had collected 12 of its 16 steals and forced 17 of Spain's 28 turnovers.
'I think our defense is always key for us,' Williams said. 'Defense is always our bread and butter, always where we like to start our basis from because if we're playing good D, we're going to get out in transition; we're going to run because we're creating turnovers and forcing miscues. So, just got to be proud of how our defense stepped up and shut those guys down.'
Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks) opened the third period with a blocked shot and rebound, which he fired ahead to a streaking Bryant for a fast break dunk. Anthony followed with another 3-pointer that increased the U.S. lead to 66-45 with 8:31 on the clock in the third quarter, and from there, Spain never got closer than 18 points
Overall, the USA recorded 24 assists on 44-of-76 shooting (57.9 percent) from the field. Entering the game ranked last in the 12 team field for 3-point shooting having made just 29.2 percent of its 3-pointers, the U.S. against Spain found its shooting eye and sank 48.0 percent (12-25 3-pt FGs) from beyond the 3-point arc.
'All-around we felt good,' Wade said. 'Guys are getting into a rhythm and like I've been saying, we're going to play our best basketball toward the end of the whole thing and that's going to be a good thing. I think we're kind of reaching our stride.'
In Saturday's other games, Group A saw Australia (2-2) top Russia (1-3) 95-80 with both Andrew Bogut and CJ Bruton tallying 22 points; while 20 points from Mindaugas Lukauskis led Lithuania (4-0) past Croatia (2-2) 86-73; and Argentina (3-1) downed Iran (0-4) 97-82 thanks to 32 points from Manu Ginobili.
In Group B competition, Greece (2-2) cruised past Angola (0-4) 102-61 with 22 points from Ioannis Bouroussis; and 25 points from Yao Ming helped China (2-2) survive Germany (1-3) 59-55.
Following the USA's final preliminary game on Tuesday 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.