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USA uses "Big Ds" — Durant and defense — to beat Turkey, win gold

Sep 12, 2010, 4:53 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for durant_usa_fun.jpgThink back a couple weeks ago to the start of the FIBA World Championships, to all those concerns about Team USA — they were not big enough, they lacked international experience, they were too young.

You can get caught up in what a team can’t do and ignore what it can. And this version of Team USA had two things going for it:

Tenacious defense and Kevin Durant.

And those two things were enough to get the USA the gold medal, beating host Turkey in front of a loud crowd, 81-64. The win qualifies the USA for the 2012 Olympics in London, meaning all the top players can take next summer off from USA basketball and focus on the coming lockout.

Durant finished with 28 points but in the first half he carried the USA. Turkey went to its aggressive match up zone and the USA took a while to adjust, with 9 points on the 14 possessions after they started it.

But Durant kept the USA alive — Durant shot 7-12 in the first half, everyone else on Team USA was 6-26 (23 percent). From three, Durant was 5-9, the rest of Team USA was 1 of 13.

Durant was named Tournament MVP.

But maybe bigger than Durant Sunday — and all tournament — was the USA’s aggressive defense. They pressured the ball and tried to use their athleticism all over the court, and that more than compensated for the lack of size on this team.

The USA’s defense forced a veteran Turkey squad into four shot clock violations. In the first half, while the USA’s offense was sluggish, the defense held Turkey to 34 percent shooting with 10 turnovers.

In the third, again with some baskets by Durant leading the way, the USA started to pull away from Turkey, stretching the lead to 20. You could see the defeat start to creep into the body language of Turkish players — they defended Durant well, doubled him and he hit a turnaround fadeaway over them in the lane, and Turkish shoulders just slumped. Soon the transition baskets that Turkey had kept the USA from getting all game started to come as Turkey just succumbed.

Lamar Odom may be unfocused at times, but he brings it in big games and had 15 points and 11 boards in this one, doing it against a very big Turkey front line. Russell Westbrook added 13 points. Hedo Turkoglu had 16 points to lead Turkey on 5 of 8 shooting and 4 of 4 from three.

It was a well earned gold medal for Team USA, a tournament where the star that is Durant really started to break through, and where USA basketball showed a commitment to defense it not always has. When teams this talented are committed on defense, they don’t lose.

  1. Patricia - Sep 12, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    Kevin Durant is the best player in basketball. His skill set at his height of 6’10 is the best ever. He’s a better shooter than Lebron, and his defense is also very good as he moves quickly and uses his length to contest shots effectively. His only weakness is his strength, which almost does not matter because of how quick, skilled, and long he is.

  2. Jean - Sep 12, 2010 at 6:21 PM

    Top 5 Players in the NBA
    1. Kobe
    2. Durant
    3. James
    4. Wade
    5. Carmelo
    2012 USA team should be:
    Kobe Bryant
    Kevin Durant
    Lebron James
    Dwayne Wade
    Carmelo Anthony
    Dwight Howard
    Chris Bosh
    Deron Williams
    Chris Paul
    Russell Westbrook
    Derrick Rose
    Andre Iguodala

  3. Sal - Sep 12, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    Bravo to Durant for being the MVP and deservedly so. But the U S does not win the Gold Medal without Lamar Odom. Sweet O showed his value by playing out of position due to lack of Centers for our team in the entire tournament and did so admirably. If there’s any doubt who’s gonna win the NBA Championship next year I would go with the team that Odom plays with. I hear they have another really good player and two of the best Centers in the NBA. Ha! take that Miami!

  4. Mostly agreed... - Sep 12, 2010 at 7:06 PM

    I love Durant. He’s probably my favorite basketball player. That being said, he drastically needs to improve his defense. He’s not a liability, but it’s an area that could use a lot of improvement. Part of it has to do with solely having to guard quick players with that long body (which seems to be still growing!). He got caught out of position a lot during the tournament, but he had good enough athletes around him to make up the difference. Everything else you said about him I seem to agree with, including his need to get a little bit stronger. It might help him finish at the rim a little bit better. With that wingspan and a little bit more strength, he could abuse players in the post. He’s definitely a better shooter than LBJ. He has an amazing touch, and there aren’t a lot of people who can get up there to contest him. He handles the ball really well for a guy who is 6’10″, too. Amazing player, and he seems like a legitimately good guy who loves basketball. I think it’s silly that people have him built up as the anti-LeBron…except that he sort of is.

  5. Mike - Sep 12, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    Hey all I care for is that the USA WON!!! USA USA USA!!!
    I live in Germany and alot of trash talk I have to put up with…
    If they would of sent the USA team from 2008 DONE DEAL, but this way is even sweeter ;)

  6. Anonymous - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:01 AM

    I’m glad the US shut up all those moronic whistling Turkish fans …geez that whole whistling thing just makes them sound like a bunch of screaming bitches

  7. cygnus x-1 - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:04 AM

    take that world! you got pounded by the U.S.A. b team!now we don’t have to listen to anymore crap from you third rate countries untill we win the the gold medal in london.don’t like my attitude?to bad!real proud to be the ugly american who is tired of hearing my country berated daily by people from the rest of the world who couldn’t survive a day without aid from this great country!U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

  8. Bob - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:10 AM

    Are you people serious? Your kind makes the internet the insufferable place it is. How about we stick to basketball on the basketball blog and you keep your opinions to the Xenophobic Redneck blog. Congrats to team USA anyway.

  9. Joe - Sep 13, 2010 at 3:44 AM

    The problem of having too many good players WANTING to play for the U S of A in 2012 is a good problem to have for Coach K.

  10. gus - Sep 13, 2010 at 3:54 AM

    Great win for Team USA!!! No need to feel sorry for being proud of this team and their effort, they are the world Champions!
    Durant is a special player and will be a force for years to come in the NBA. Not to mention the world and Olympics.
    That coach didn’t do too bad either.

  11. NickLA - Sep 13, 2010 at 8:22 AM

    As much as I love Kobe and the Lakers, I was sick of people calling this US side “B team”. These guys earned the right to play in the olympics, they should go to the olympics. I enjoyed watching them more that any other US side, they were young, raw and on fire.
    Bye Bye Kobe, Labron, Dwayne wade etc. I’, happy with Durant,Odom, Billups and the young guns.
    Right now Kobe and Durant are the 2 best players in the league. Labron is a hype to nowhereville.

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