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USA Basketball: Kevin Love burns the doghouse down and Team USA shows its depth

Jul 29, 2012, 1:00 PM EDT

Olympics Day 2 - Basketball Getty Images

Kevin Love has been under fire the past two weeks. He struggled in exhibition play, and his role on Team USA was questioned. He was supposed to be the other big to help Team USA with a roster that has almost no size. There was talk of him slipping out of the rotation almost entirely. But against France with a more rugged but overall shorter lineup and in need of someone to put the ball in the basket, Love stepped up, stepped out, and burned the doghouse down.

Love finished with 14 points in 14:18 of play, and helped Team USA to a 98-71 win over France Sunday. Love was tipping in shots, nailing jumpers, and cutting to the basket. He seemed much more at ease than in previous games with Team USA and he really helped jump-start the offense in the third quarter after Team USA only lead by single digits at the half. Love finished with seven points in the third and Team USA broke the game open, and never looked back.

It’s a sign of Team USA’s depth. When some of their players don’t play as well, like Carmelo Anthony who had a rough game Sunday, they have guys to step up. Chris Paul had arguably been the weakest of the guards in exhibition play, and he was electric, while Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook struggled. James Harden made plays. There always seems to be someone ready to step up and make the plays necessary. This team may not have the depth of the Dream Team, but it’s impossible to say that they’re not an incredible collection of players with an answer to a million questions that can be asked of them.

And it’s a testament to Coach K’s flexibility that he not only put Love on the floor with the game still within reach, but put him in a position to put his struggles on this team behind him. With every game, Team USA seems to get more confident not only in each other, but with their own roles on this team. And with France one of the tougher teams they’ll face in group play, it was just the kind of start Team USA needed: an early struggle, responded to with depth, versatility, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and a total effort to put away the French and leave the game beyond any doubt.

Even in a game where they didn’t play their best, Team USA looks ready.

  1. drunkenjunk - Jul 29, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    nobody is doubting how good this team is. Everyone is inferior to the original Dream Team, there is no shame in that.

    • shanelsweet - Jul 29, 2012 at 4:17 PM

      There’s plenty of video available of both teams. When you watch the Dream Team video, the thing that immediately stands out in comparison to the current team’s video is the lack of quality competition. That team didn’t have to play hard to win. This team does. Seems like this team might be in better shape because they have to play hard. Usually, the team in better shape wins. I’d bet on this team to beat the Dream Team. It won’t be too much longer before they’ll be selling a video game

      • scalfor3 - Jul 29, 2012 at 5:06 PM

        the biggest thing that stands out is the ball movement from the dream team compared to now. this years team eventually wears teams out cause of its athleticism, but struggles at times in the half court. dream team in the half court were incredible.

  2. unit3021mofo - Jul 29, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Greg Monroe or Roy Hibbert would have rounded out the team pretty well.. I’m not saying they really need either of them, with the team they have out there now they shouldnt have a problem goin out and winning that gold piece.

  3. unit3021mofo - Jul 29, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    As far as the dream team debate goes the dream team would take the 2012 team in a 10 game series but this team plays a different style of ball and with the talent they have I feel it would be quite a bit closer than people are making it out to

  4. passerby23 - Jul 29, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    It’s kinda funny that the writers on this site complain about the endless Dream Team comparisons and then constantly reference and compare them in every article about the Olympic Team.

  5. unit3021mofo - Jul 29, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Greg Monroe or Roy Hibbert would have fit well on that team

  6. lakerluver - Jul 29, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Man, I’m looking forward to the day he slips on the PURPLE AND GOLD of the LAKERS for the 1st time!! You can always go back home, K. Love.

    • Justin - Jul 29, 2012 at 4:57 PM

      He may have been born in California but he actually grew up in Oregon…

      • Andee - Jul 29, 2012 at 5:38 PM

        He went to UCLA, though. I have long thought Love would eventually end up on the Lakers. I think him NOT ending up on the Lakers means the either the Wolves or the Clippers turn it around/keep it going. Who wants to parlay bet that one?

    • cbt22 - Jul 30, 2012 at 1:54 PM

      Not gonna happen the lakers would need to stop trying to improve their roster for the next 3 or 4 years just to be able to offer k love a contract.

  7. laleafs - Jul 29, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    LeBron may become one of the all-time greats. Kobe thinks he is the all-time greatest. Coach K Is the greatest of all time. The data is overwhelming.

  8. misterdreamer119 - Jul 29, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Love needs to let his game do all the talking for him.

  9. diablito0402 - Jul 29, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    One thing and one thing only, they had michael jordan and this team doesent. He would not allow his team to loose period, ANY questions????

  10. lakerluver - Jul 29, 2012 at 10:37 PM

    @Andee, thanks, I couldn’t have said it better.

  11. lakerluver - Jul 29, 2012 at 10:45 PM

    @drunkenjunk, I don’t think Kobe or LeBron are inferior to anyone who has ever played in the NBA. We are so quick to anoint MJ as the greatest ever. How can anyone say beyond a doubt that MJ was better than Kobe? Or that he was better than Elgin Baylor? Or better than Oscar Robinson? My point is unless they played in the same era no one has a clue who was better. And even if they did play in the same era we still couldn’t say definitively who was better. IMO, until someone averages 50 and 25 Wilt is the greatest player ever.

  12. isujames - Jul 29, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    ^ you really sound like a stupid laker cheerleader, are you serious or are you really just that dumb????You must be kobe’s secret love child or something, Kobe shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as MJ.

  13. shaab23 - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:54 AM

    Are you serious??? First I’ve heard anyone claim Kobe might be better than mj. He’s not even better than Lebron…

  14. 24thesho - Jul 30, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    One of the main differences between Kobe and MJ is; MJ would not make as many bone headed plays at certain points of games and was a much better shot selector in crucial situations; MJ was just a bit more clever in general, among other things. That goes for LBJ, as well but I do think he should be making the plays at the point. Chris Paul thinks he’s better than he really is. As for Kevin Love, personally, I think he is way overrated and in over his head on this team and I think there are a couple of factors as to why he’s revered in such a way but I’m not going to go there. Actually, the more I think about this as I’m typing, the whole team is overrated without D. Wade and maybe Blake’s explosiveness, psychologically, would have been an advantage as far as Spain and Argentina are concerned. I think the USA basketball selection process was more concerned with America’s image than winning and that will be the reason why if they do not win the gold. The team with Durant in the next Olympics will be a force for sure but not this year. But I did notice that Anthony Davis could possibly be a factor if they play a little him more, he looks very good with this squad. And I just don’t get why they did not select more bigs; that is truly baffling to me. David Lee (would have been good, too), Roy Hibbert(?), even Amarè. WTH?

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