USA Pulls Out Narrow 70-68 Win Over Brazil, Remains Perfect in Menís World Championship Play
Aug. 30, 2010 ē Istanbul, Turkey
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski described the game versus Brazil as a character game.Thanks to 27 points and 10 rebounds from Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) and a strong defensive effort in the second half, the USA passed the character test and edged Brazil (2-1) 70-68 in a battle of Group B unbeatens Monday evening at Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul, Turkey. The win improved the U.S. record to 3-0 and put the Americans in excellent shape to earn the group's number one seeding for the eighth-finals.
Durant led the U.S. scoring on 4-for-6 shooting from 3-point, while Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets) added 15 points, Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) contributed 11 and Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers) was credited with eight points and nine rebounds.
"We only allowed 22 points in the second and when you're offense isn't going very well, to still play great defense shows that you have character. I said (to the team) that I thought they had the character to win because it was not easy to win tonight. They had to do it doing tough things," Krzyzewski said.
"It was not (a game) - especially in the second half - where points came easy. Both teams still played with great heart. I think it showed the character of each team. When that happens, to me, a team can show its character in a bad way or a good way. I thought both teams showed it in a good way. I found out something about my team tonight."
The contest was a tale of two different halves. Over the first two quarters the two teams combined to score 89 points with Brazil heading to their locker room at intermission with a 46-43 lead.
The defenses clamped down in the second half and the two teams managed to score 49 points combined, and only after the U.S. outscored Brazil 27-22 in the last two quarters did the Americans post the 70-68 win.
"They came out first and did a great job of putting pressure on us but I thought we fought hard all game. Shots weren't going down for us, but we still continued to play defense in that second half. It's a learning experience for us. It was a game we needed," stated Durant.
The USA jumped out early to a 10-6 lead, but Brazil found its groove offensively and finished off the quarter with eight straight points to secure a 28-22 lead.
Brazil upped its lead to 37-30 following a pair of free throws by Marcelo Huertas, but the U.S. rallied back and behind six consecutive points scored by Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder), Durant and Rose, closed the gap to 37-36. At half the Americans trailed by three, 46-43.
Down 50-47 with 7:26 to go in the third, Durant connected from behind the 3-point arc, Rose scored, Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers) added a free throw and Billups added two more from the charity stripe to finish off an 8-0 run, and the U.S. had its largest lead of the night to that point, 55-50.
Brazil refused to let the U.S. out of its sights and heading into the final 10 minutes, the USA was up 61-59 and facing its first test of the World Championship.
With the shot clock about to expire, Brazil's Marcus Vieira hit a three to even the score at 62 all. Odom counted on the other end and Rose pushed the USA back ahead 66-62 with 6:51 to play when he converted a pass from Billups into a pretty reverse layup.
The U.S. lead stood at 68-64 with 3:54 to play following a pair of clutch free throws from Rose and neither team was able to score again until 1:04 was left when Huertas scored on a drive to pull Brazil back within two, 68-66. Billups countered with his own drive at the other end, and then Brazil's Leandro Barbosa scored with 51.4 remaining to again make the contest a two-point game, 70-68.
The U.S. missed a three with 11 seconds to go that would have sealed the game and with 3.5 seconds left Huertas was fouled in the lane. Missing his first free throw, on the second attempt he purposely threw the ball hard off the rim and then came up with the rebound. Passing the ball into the lane to Barbosa, the guard's game tying toss rimmed out at the buzzer and the USA had the win.
"Chauncey made some big plays. He's the leader of this team so we got to follow him .he did a great job of carrying us in the second half," remarked Durant.
Both teams struggled with its shooting on the night, Brazil managed 42.2 percent for the game, while the USA hit 41.8 percent. The USA was 18-of-23 from the foul line, compared to Brazil's 4-of-8 charity shooting. The U.S. also held a slight advantage on the glass, 36-32, but had 22 turnovers and Brazil turned it over 20 times.
"Adversity makes a family tougher," Odom said. "You have to go through some things in life. It was good for us to have a challenge and be pushed to the limit."
Monday was a day off for the teams in Group C and Group D, and in Group A play in Kayseri, Argentina (3-0) remained perfect with a 91-70 win over Angola (1-2); Serbia (2-1) tore through Jordan (0-3) 112-69, and Australia (2-1) took apart Germany (1-2) 78-43. In Group B's other action Monday, Slovenia (2-1) fought off Croatia (1-2) 91-84, and Iran (1-2) upended Tunisia (0-3) 71-58.
The 2010 USA World Championship Team assistant coaches are Syracuse University's Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan and Toronto Raptors head mentor Jay Triano.
The 2010 FIBA (International
Basketball Federation) World Championship for Men is being held Aug. 28-Sept.
12 in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and Kayseri, Turkey. Twenty-four teams are competing
in the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Men and those teams were divided into
four preliminary round groups consisting of six teams each.