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USA sends golden message to Spain with 22-point win

Jul 24, 2012, 7:11 PM EDT

USA v Spain - Men's Exhibition Game Getty Images

This was not the gold medal game, nothing was really at stake in Tuesday night’s exhibition in Barcelona. Spain did not put everything they had into this one — for starters, Marc Gasol did not even play.

Nonetheless, the message the USA sent in the final three quarters of this rout — that their speed and athleticism can be overwhelming, especially when the outside shots are falling — was received. Loud and clear.

Team USA beat Spain 100-78 in a game that was both a rematch of the 2008 Olympic gold medal game from Beijing and a likely preview of the gold medal game from London.

And if there is a rematch in London, you can expect a better effort from Spain. The question is, would it really be enough?

Spain certainly started out the game getting their way. They slowed the game down and contested the USA’s jumpers in the half court, then on offense pounded the ball inside. Pau Gasol got two quick fouls on Tyson Chandler. Meanwhile, Jose Calderon carved into the USA’s defense and when the help came nobody on the USA helped-the-helper. The result was Serge Ibaka putting on a dunking exhibition and getting 16 first half points (he scored none in the second half).

Team USA is undersized and has predicated their defense on speed and pressure. Which is fine, but that requires some practice and communication, and certainly the communication was lacking early.

But at the end of the first quarter, things started to change for a couple reasons. One, the USA got some stops and that let them increase the tempo.

The other was Carmelo Anthony.

He hit seemingly everything he put up once he came in off the bench, ending with 23 first half points. He was raining threes (five in the first half), and he was doing it getting open working off the ball in a way Mike D’Antoni wanted him to but Carmelo wouldn’t really do for him in New York. ‘Melo finished with 27 points on 15 shots to lead Team USA.

They pushed out to a 48-40 halftime lead.

The second half saw some smart adjustments by Mike Krzyzewski. For one, they ran some early LeBron James/Kevin Durant pick and roll. Which is about the most unstoppable thing on the planet. Team USA also was making the extra pass — Kobe Bryant made the extra pass on the perimeter to Durant for a three, then a couple possessions later tried to post up then passed out of the double to Durant for another good look (Durant was fouled).

LeBron helped take over in second half, finished with 25 points on 15 shots. The USA’s defensive rotations were a lot sharper in the second half. And while Spain made a run at one point the game was never in serious doubt from near the end of the second quarter on.

Pau Gasol had 19 points to lead Spain. Hopefully Lakers coach Mike Brown was watching and noticed that Gasol is very effective in the low post. You don’t have to just stick him at the elbow or use him as a glorified stretch four.

Spain, as they showed at the start of the game, can play better. They have playmakers that can cause the USA’s defense problems and without Marc Gasol they were lacking some of their skill and size.

But they cannot matchup with the speed, the athleticism the USA puts out there. If the USA is not draining threes maybe Spain can close the gap. And anything can happen in a one-game playoff. But it was hard to watch this game and think that the USA, when focused, is going to be nearly impossible to beat in London.

The USA opens its gold medal defense on Sunday against France.

  1. chicagosworth - Jul 24, 2012 at 7:17 PM


  2. ptestonm - Jul 24, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    now about the report from andres nocioni who said it would be tough for the US to win gold……….

    • atahualpaoxford - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:49 AM

      US beat Spain by 22 points…???
      Let’s just give the gold medal and avoid playing any games…LOL…
      Flashback: final of the World Cup of soccer…1950
      Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil…
      Everything ready for the coronation…party on….
      150.000 people on the stands…wooppsss…
      Uruguay 2, Brazil 1…
      Biggest upset in soccer history…
      Just don’t count the chickens before they hutch…
      And I’m not saying the US won’t win the gold medal…

  3. jtchernak - Jul 24, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    They were complaining about every foul they did lebron pulled pay gasol down from his foot it was so obvious and lebron argued it wasn’t a foul gtfo lebron and us crybabies

    • raidmagic - Jul 24, 2012 at 8:37 PM

      with that post you’re complaining about someone else being a crybaby? Too funny.

    • minnesota32 - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:19 AM

      It looked to me like Pau stepped on his forearm maybe I’m wrong though.

  4. Justin - Jul 24, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    They did send a golden message. After that they followed it up with some golden interviews with reporters and then all went and took a golden shower.

  5. minnesota32 - Jul 24, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    It’s a good thing the USA squad is so much more talented than everybody else because all things being even as far as players go, the refs would definitely make sure our opponents would win. Perfect example was in the second half when Kevin Love got hit 3 times by Pau Gasol on put back attempts and got no call, then immediately after on the other end of the court Pau Gasol gives Love a forearm to the chest with Love going straight up, and they call a foul on Love. Those refs were so bad it was almost funny.

  6. scalfor3 - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:08 AM

    i dont see how anyone can put any stock in this game. spain didn’t play one of their best players and toughest matchups for the US. don’t get me wrong, i still think we bring home the gold next month, but it wont be a rout with both gasols on the floor

  7. ahemahem - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    Why do no websites ever have the box scores for these games?

    • davidly - Jul 25, 2012 at 9:17 AM

      And when they do, it’s local high school format (without all the stats) or something bizarre like this one:

  8. josejazz - Jul 25, 2012 at 3:38 AM

    you guys didn’t saw anything from Spain yesyerday. USA can win the gold medal, they’re still the best team in my opinion, but I see a lack of inside scoring that has to worry american coaches. They are weak inside and that can hurt against certain teams. And i’m sure Spanish coach has shown nothing yesterday about the tactics he has planned to use against USA.

  9. jimeejohnson - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:19 AM

    Any team with LeBron, Kevin Durant, Kobe, Carmelo, and CP3 is not going to lose to a bunch of Spaniards or Argentinians. Those countries are no match for our boys. They got lucky in the past but that luck has run out. Marc Gasol did play, drawing a foul by Chandler in the first quarter. If you blinked you missed it.

  10. mannyicey - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:22 AM

    Based upon what I have seen, the talent for the US will all but guarantee a big win and gold medal. Even with the biased refs.

    The US actually didn’t even play the kind of game that you should expect from them. They relied heavily on the outside shot. They didn’t exploit the openings that Spain gave them in the zone. They just decided to shoot over the zone and still won by a big margin. Imagine when they actually play the game in the Olympics. You expect that same zone to work well there, too?

  11. wayne1693 - Jul 25, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    I know many people will think this comment is upside-down…but to me, Olympic basketball would actually be more exciting if we sent the college all-stars.

    • paleihe - Jul 25, 2012 at 2:14 PM

      I don’t care about college basketball. I wanna see the best in the world play. Not some guys in college passing from side to side for 35 seconds.

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