Skip to content

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

Sep 4, 2014, 1:51 PM EST

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. Now what for Milwaukee Bucks? For rookie of the year race?

    Dec 17, 2014, 5:31 PM EST

    Jabari Parker AP

    There are no good answers for the Bucks, or for other rookies to reward.

  2. Kings owner says Malone fired because Kings now need “jazz director”

    Dec 17, 2014, 4:03 PM EST

    Oklahoma City at Sacramento Oklahoma City at Sacramento

    The Kings roster is poorly suited right now for the style the owner wants to play.

  3. Report: Pistons asked for Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague in discussing Greg Monroe trade with Hawks

    Dec 17, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Greg Monroe AP

    Portland also reportedly tried to trade for Monroe before he signed the one-year qualifying offer to stay in Detroit.

  4. Isaiah Austin gets added as a player in NBA 2K15 video game

    Dec 17, 2014, 1:50 PM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptg2mzfkyty1yze1ntrjmmmwogrlmge3mdezmdqzmwfk AP

    Former Baylor University center was expected to be drafted, but was diagnosed with a disease that prematurely ended his chances of playing in the NBA.

  5. Dwyane Wade gets poked in the eye by referee, then flops (VIDEO)

    Dec 17, 2014, 1:10 PM EST

    Dwyane Wade AP

    Wade has a reputation of being a flopper, and appeared to exaggerate the contact from the official.

  6. Tyson Chandler says he feels sorry for Carmelo Anthony

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks Getty Images

    He pities ‘Melo because a real competitor is suffering through a lot of losing.

  7. Cavaliers’ Kevin Love a game-time decision Wednesday vs. Hawks

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:50 AM EST

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Love is suffering from the dreaded flu-like symptoms.

  8. Kings retire Peja Stojakovic’s jersey (VIDEO)

    Dec 17, 2014, 10:30 AM EST

    Peja Stokakovicof Peja Stokakovicof

    Peja was a three-time All-Star, and a member of the only good team Sacramento has had in its franchise history.

  9. Kevin Durant on idea stars wouldn’t want to play with Kobe Bryant: ‘That’s bulls—‘

    Dec 17, 2014, 9:50 AM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Durant joins Paul George as players who renounce the nonsensical report that emerged earlier in the season.

  10. Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson meets with Kings GM, DeMarcus Cousins after Tuesday night’s game

    Dec 17, 2014, 9:09 AM EST

    Mark Jackson AP

    Prior relationships Jackson has with Kings brass may make this an obvious choice for Sacramento as the team searches for its next head coach.

  11. Report: Kings have reached out to Vinny Del Negro about being next coach

    Dec 17, 2014, 8:30 AM EST

    Vinny Del Negro AP

    That sound you just heard was the collective voice of people in Sacramento yelling “nooooooooo.”

  12. PBT’s Tuesday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Grizzlies grind ends Warriors streak

    Dec 17, 2014, 2:02 AM EST

    Marc Gasol AP

    Rough night for the Bucks, and they didn’t even play.

  13. Wizards’ Andre Miller attempts put-back dunk, fails miserably (VIDEO)

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:15 AM EST

    andre miller wizards AP

    Miller, known for his high-IQ game, gets hung on the rim.

  14. It’s official: Jabari Parker out for the season with torn ACL

    Dec 16, 2014, 11:13 PM EST

    Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Parker was the leading Rookie of the Year candidate.

Featured video

Can red hot Warriors sustain success?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Favors (7027)
  2. K. Martin (6957)
  3. J. Noah (6931)
  4. A. Davis (6751)
  5. D. Cousins (6622)
  1. L. James (6511)
  2. T. Jones (6469)
  3. A. Bogut (6326)
  4. T. Parker (6295)
  5. K. Leonard (6282)