USA 07: the Greatest Since the Greatest

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  • Opening tip, and Puerto Rico wins the uniform match up.
  • Puerto Rico is in zone on the US’s second offensive possession…and Jason Kidd scores on a jumper. I bet none of you saw that coming. Jason Kidd, zone buster.
  • Remember when Kobe had Arroyo in shackles last game? Well now Jason Kidd is guarding him, and Arroyo is out for revenge.
  • Chris Carring just said, “Kidd, an offensive barrage.” It’s been a confusing game thus far.
  • Puerto Rico is the first team this tournament to match the USA’s intensity when USA is playing hard.
  • A quick clip of Puerto Rico’s coach yelling at them as they come into a time out. Unlike seemingly every other team the US has played, Puerto Rico fully expects to compete and win. It’s a shame it took this long for a real challenger to cross paths with USA, it will be interesting to see how good they can be when pushed to play at their highest level.
  • Ayuso splashes his second three in a row, bringing the score to 27-30, and for a quick second the momentum teeters on the brink of getting away for Team USA. Then Kobe calmly nails a deep three off of a catch, pause, decide not to care there’s a man guarding me, and jack. USA back up 6, and along with the lead, there is the realization that Kobe will not let this team lose. If he plays in Beijing, they win the gold. It’s as simple as that.
  • Dwight Howard just swiped Ayuso’s free throw attempt off the rim. It’s been very apparent that the coaching staff has drilled the team on this aspect of the international game.
  • Surprisingly, I have yet to yell at Bill Walton this telecast. There are ominous clouds on the horizon though.
  • Well who would have seen this coming, Bill just made an asinine statement. “Kobe Bryant would have been a better player if he had gone to college.” Dwight Howard crushes a monster one handed jam–the first none-two-handed dunk I’ve seen from him all tournament. “There, though, is a player who would not have benefited from college.” Yup, comparing what they have done in their careers so far makes the statement perfectly logical…in Dancing Bears land.
  • One of the most enjoyable parts of the tournament has been watching Jason Kidd in all his brilliance. If only he played in an offense where the wing players didn’t just wait for the ball on the wings and then kill clock as they stood, turned, and scanned the floor. I can only imagine how many assists he would have on a team like Phoenix, or even Denver. After these past two weeks, I am fully convinced that Kidd is the best point guard in the L. Yes, better than Nash, despite Nash’s superior offensive game. Call me crazy, but would Phoenix be worse with Kidd running the show? I don’t see how.
  • The officiating has been questionable all half–the refs missed Amare’s whole foot being out of bounds on a baseline drive in the first quarter–but the foul assessed to Tayshaun Prince was horrendous. He bit on a pump fake, came down without touching the shooter, watched the shooter miss the short bank shot, and then got whistled for the foul. I think Coach K even stood up for that one. Good thing too, I wasn’t sure he still had a pulse, he’s been in the same position (propped up between D’Antoni and Boeheim) all tournament.
  • Moments later, Redd is called for a touch foul on the perimeter (and Barea tried to to take the free throws–why are all short people so sneaky?). The supposed physical nature of the international game is lost on the officiating crew tonight.
  • I’m pretty sure Apodaca translated means “twin of Kevin Martin.”
  • Jason Kidd ‘s third three point attempt results in an airball. I don’t care how hot he may have been, Kidd stepping off of the bench and launching a three is the equivalent of Michael Jackson walking into a day care and caressing a little boy’s cheek–both make you cringe and are illegal in some states.
  • I’m watching the replay of this game on the Deuce because I don’t have ESPN Classic, so those of you who watched it live didn’t see this, but running across the bottom line every few minutes or so is: “Next: NSS 300 Camping.” Unfortunately it’s probably racing or something, but live camping would be much more fun.
  • Wait, let me get this straight Chris Carring, the Thomas and Mack Center used to be a part time home of the Utah Jazz? Even if it was when Wilt Chamberlin was in the league, that combination just seems all wrong.
  • Kobe just broke off a Puerto Rican guard on the perimeter with a nasty cross. It’s the second time that Kobe has pulled out the old cross-over. The last season or two it seems like he’s been using the push-the-ball-over-the-defenders-hand “cross.” Nice to see the playground in Kobe shine through–that old cross is deadly. Go watch the NBA Street Series Dunks Vol. 2 DVD if you don’t believe me.
  • If you didn’t already know this, Kobe is the best player in the world. His 2308430843 hanging float-to-the-other-side-of-the-rim-while-twisting-in-mid-air shot solidified that fact.
  • 5 minutes into the third quarter, and USA is up 83-57 and has gone to a completely different level than Puerto Rico. Their defense is dictating the tempo, and it’s lay-ups for all on the offensive end.
  • LeBron just assisted himself. No really, go watch your TiVo at the 3:40 in the third mark. The play happens just before Walton said Danny Ainge loved doing stuff like that: he did it all the time in fact. Strange, I grew up a Boston fan and don’t recall Ainge passing to himself that often. I probably just blinked during all of them. Damn.
  • Redd’s second three in the last 30 seconds. No one in the NBA gets hotter more quickly than Redd.
  • He hit another three before I finished typing the last sentence. More zone World, Michael Redd dares you!
  • Do you think that anything in Bill Walton’s world is less than superlative? If his coffee in the morning is only warm, does he still call it “intolerably scalding?”
  • Score at the end of the third quarter: USA 100, Puerto Rico 70.
  • Remember what I said about Michael Redd getting hot? Well my TV screen just burned to the floor.
  • For the remainder of the fouth quarter, Team USA took turns making 3’s (Redd finished 7-8 from deep) and making sure Puerto Rico completely lost the will to live. I, meanwhile, was looking at the old photos of the USA basketball through the years on NBA.com (which is where I got this excellent post picture from). I also found this thing. Someone please tell me what the hell it is.

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  • Final score: USA 135, Puerto Rico 91. Team USA clinches for Beijing and will play Argentina in the tournament championship Sunday at 7et on NBA TV. I hope whoever decided to put the game on NBA TV wakes up in bed with that mascot spooning them.

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