Skip to content

Uninterested USA still beats Ukraine, now on to knockout round against Mexico

Sep 4, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT

USA v Ukraine Getty Images

Thursday’s game against the Ukraine literally didn’t mean a thing to the USA, they had already secured the top seed in Group C, their spot in the 16-team knockout round already was locked. This was basically another exhibition game for the Americans.

And it showed.

Once again Team USA came out slow, acting exactly like it was their third game in three days. Which it was. Combine that with a vintage Mike Fratello strategy (the former NBA head man coaches the Ukrainians) of bottling up the paint, slowing the game down and just making it ugly and you got the USA in a little trouble early. The Ukrainians were driving the lane, the Americans were not moving the ball and Team USA trailed 19-14 after one quarter.

Then things returned to normal. With the middle bottled up the USA guards started to knock down shots — James Harden led the way with 17, Stephen Curry had 14 including three three-pointers. Eventually the onslaught came (a 17-5 run to end the first half) and the USA eventually pulled away.

The final score was 95-71 USA.

The USA got a scare at the end of the game, when Kyrie Irving fell on his hip after going up for a shot with less than two minutes to go in the game. There was no twisting of a body part, but it was a hard landing. He limped back straight to the locker room. We are awaiting an update.

Next up for the USA is Mexico to start the round of 16, Saturday at 10 am ET (on ESPN 2). Mexico boasts a couple NBA players — Jorge Gutierrez, Gustavo Ayon — their level of talent is on the lower end of the teams the USA has faced so far. This should be another blowout win for the Americans.

When it gets down to the final 8 teams, things could get a little more challenging for the USA. (But really Spain in the gold medal game should be the only game Team USA could lose.)

If you’re looking for bright spots, the USA was out and running in the second half again and had six players in double digits — Harden and Curry we mentioned, plus Anthony Davis had a dozen and ran the floor well, Irving and DeMarcus Cousins each had 11, and Kenneth Faried had 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Derrick Rose moved well and made some nice plays (four assists) in his third game in three days. He seemed as fresh as the rest of the team. That said he still has not found his shot, going 2-of-9 for four points.

We could pick apart how the Ukrainians had success getting the ball inside early and scoring that way, plus keeping the Americans out of transition for stretches. But really it’s hard to judge a USA team just coasting to wins against opponents it can overwhelm. Maybe a team like Lithuania could give the Americans trouble by exploiting the lack of defensive focus and offensive ball movement. Maybe.

But really, as we head to the knockout round, all signs point to USA vs. Spain in the gold medal game in Madrid — and that one the Americans legitimately could lose. We’ll see how Team USA tightens up in the knockout round starting Saturday in Barcelona.

Latest Posts
  1. Klay Thompson showing “concussion-like symptoms” following knee to head

    May 28, 2015, 2:55 AM EDT

    Klay Thompson Klay Thompson

    This is where the week off until the Finals tip off benefits the Warriors.

  2. Rockets had an excellent season. Are they content with that?

    May 28, 2015, 1:49 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Four Getty Images

    Houston won 56 games, secured No. 2 seed in powerful Western Conference and won more playoff series than its previous 17 years combined

  3. Jared Dudley calls Carmelo Anthony the NBA’s most overrated player

    May 27, 2015, 8:59 PM EDT

    BASKET-GBR-USA-NBA-MILWAUKEE-NY Getty Images

    First Kobe, now Melo – Dudley goes scorched earth

  4. PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ improved defense helps them to Finals

    May 27, 2015, 8:12 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers V Atlanta Hawks - Game Four Cleveland Cavaliers V Atlanta Hawks - Game Four

    The Cavaliers are allowing 98.5 points per 100 possession in the playoffs, the best of the four teams to reach the conference Finals

  5. Report: Pelicans interview Jeff Van Gundy

    May 27, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT

    Seattle Seahawks v Houston Texans Getty Images

    Will he become Anthony Davis’ next head coach?

  6. Reports: Bulls getting closer to firing Tom Thibodeau

    May 27, 2015, 5:35 PM EDT

    Cleveland at Chicago, Game 6 Cleveland at Chicago, Game 6

    If they want him gone, they just have to pull the trigger on the firing. Otherwise, bring him back.

  7. PBT Extra: Despite ending, Hawks had season worth celebrating

    May 27, 2015, 4:47 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks Media Day Getty Images

    The Hawks had an exciting season, they filled an arena that in past years felt like a mausoleum, they played beautiful basketball for months at a time.

  8. Bucks’ Jared Dudley: “Most guys don’t want to play with Kobe”

    May 27, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    Free agents will still come to the Lakers, but their pool may be smaller than some other teams because of Kobe.

  9. LeBron James: ‘I couldn’t foresee us being in The Finals at the beginning of the season’

    May 27, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    LeBron James AP

    Plenty has changed since LeBron re-joined the Cavaliers last summer.

Featured video

Despite ending, Hawks had season to remember
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. S. Curry (7466)
  2. K. Irving (6402)
  3. K. Love (5699)
  4. L. James (4638)
  5. K. Korver (4334)
  1. D. Howard (3849)
  2. K. Bryant (3690)
  3. A. Horford (3629)
  4. K. Durant (3483)
  5. A. Varejao (3462)