by Lang Whitaker

OK, OK, OK…I’m up, I’m awake.

Good grief. Is it 8:00 a.m. already? Wow, didn’t know the sun was usually out this bright at this time of day. And yes, I understand it’s the summer, but it’s an Olympic summer on the other side of the world, which means there’s going to be a lot of live action early in the mornings.

And on this specific morning, it means Team USA is playing a warm-up game against Turkey live from Macau, which is being televised on ESPN 2. I’m watching and I’m keeping notes…

• Mike and Mike are being pre-empted so the game can be shown on The Deuce. This is already starting well.

• Team USA is in their white jerseys with the fake laser print on the back.

• The game is being played in Cotai Arena in Macau. Wow, Rick Kamla and Fran Fraschilla are announcing. This game has fantasy sports implications? Also, Kamla describes the arena as “sparkling.”

• Team USA goes with Kidd, Kobe, Bron, Melo and Dwight. Turkey appears to be without the services of, well, pretty much any players I’ve ever heard of. Hedo? Okur? Instead, Turkey is led by Ersan Ilyasova, who averaged 14 mpg for the Bucks two seasons ago. Also, Turkey has Cenk Akyol, who I’ve at least heard of, and Semih Erdin, who was either just drafted by the Celtics or was Eddie Murphy’s servant in “Coming To America.” This should be a close game. Not.

• OK, there’s no way Kamla and Fraschilla are actually in Macau — they’re not sharing any details about the team other than what you can read on the ‘net. It kills me when ESPN does this. They can spend millions throwing an awards show for themselves that nobody really cares about, but when there’s a big soccer game or international basketball match, ESPN won’t pony up and send the announcers to be with the team. That’s why they’re the Worldwide Leader.

• Tipoff! Now we’re 15 seconds in and LeBron has already goaltended a shot off the rim (which is legal) and then hit one of those runners where he hangs in the air longer than the defenders and banks a shot in.

• USA’s in a full-court press. Melo gets an open three and knocks it down. 5-0, less than one minute in.

• My man Akyol, who is property of the Hawks, nails an ugly runner, and then Turkey gets a lay-up in transition to tie the game. If the Hawks get Akyol to come to town, people in The A will love his name (which is pronounced AK-y’all).

• Jason Kidd looks like a speed bump in a Team USA jersey thus far — everyone’s going right around him.

• LeBron swishes a three, then Kobe gets a steal and forces a long turnaround two that still almost goes in. He was fouled by someone named Tunceri, though. Kobe hits both free throws to make it 10-5.

• USA breaks again and Melo pops another three. Semih Erdan goes in for the dunk and LeBron hacks him. Fraschilla begins a sentence by saying, “If there is one Achilles heel for Team USA, it’s the lack of depth up front…” Wait a second, I thought the whole reason we went through this stuff with Colangelo and Coach K and all that was so there wouldn’t be any Achilles heel, wasn’t it?

• Chris Bosh is in for Dwight Howard. Kobe sends a Turkish guard to the line, and Turkey hits free throws to make it 13-11. LeBron hits a wide-open Melo on an inbounds alley-oop to make it 15-11. My man Akyol then hits consecutive buckets, surrounding a three that Jason Kidd rattles in. Team USA looks good, leading 20-15, but they’re not defending at all.

• Subs! Bosh, Chris Paul, Melo, Bron and Kobe are in right now. in some ways this may be better than the staring line-up.

• Bron hits Bosh with a no-look bounce pass for a dunk. Then Bron sprints up the center of the floor, passing about three Turkish players in the process, for an oop that Kobe underthrows and Bron misses. Then the newly-bald D-Wade enters and picks up an offensive foul after running directly into Ilyasova.

• USA’s up 22-17. I thought Coach K was known as a defensive coach?

• Fraschilla says that Wade’s in a great position because he’s the sixth man for Team USA. OK. But he was the third guy off the bench, so wouldn’t that make him the 8th man?

• Ilyasova with a no-look hook over Dwight.

• Now Deron Williams checks in at the 2. So it’s CP, Deron Williams, Wade, Bron and Dwight. And Williams immediately loses his man, who comes off a screen and swishes a three-pointer. 24-22 now, Team USA is clinging to this lead.

• A Turkish guy named Savas whirls past Dwight and gets a bail-out call from international refereeing’s Joey Crawford. Savas hits both free throws to make it 24 all with 1:57 left in the first.

• Arsalan! Turkey runs the shot clock down and this dude drills a three in Melo’s face. Turkey takes a 27-24 lead.

• D-Wade gets a steal and makes a nice lay-up splitting two defenders, and then Melo gets a rebound and hits Wade on a runout to take the lead.

• CP3 (or CP13 in international play) draws an offensive foul again Turkey. Fraschilla calls CP a “feisty bugger.” What is this, the roaring ’20s?

• Melo takes Gonlum on the block and gets the and-one. Team USA takes a 4-point lead. Melo leads all scorers with 11.

• Three from Turkey! Then both teams trade turnovers to end the half. 31-30, Team USA leads, after one. Barely. Not a great start to things. Although Kamla is all over the X-Games promo.

• Dwight gets a two-handed slam, then Turkey gets a turnover and Arsalan hits a tear drop on the break. Wasn’t Arsalan the name of Gargamel’s cat?

• Melo hits two free throws to make it USA 35, Turkey 32.

• Turkey scores again in the post, then Dwight and Wade each gets layups to make it a five-point lead. LeBron jab-steps his defender and busts a long two. Steal by Deron Williams and Kobe with a layup.

• BTW, Team USA’s going Kidd, Williams, Kobe, Bron and Boozer. They lead 43-36, and Turkey looks tired for the first time.

• Kobe turns it over — gets ripped in the open floor — and Kidd fouls to stop the break. Kobe goes over and slaps the Turkish player on the butt. That was strange.

• Michael Redd checks in and replaces Deron Williams. Out of a timeout, Kidd immediately turns it over.

• Kamla asks Fraschilla if the ball is the same size as an NBA ball or slightly smaller. Fraschilla says “it can be slightly smaller by rule.” Which means, “I have no idea if the ball is smaller or not because ESPN was too cheap to let us actually be at the game.”

• USA opens a 47-37 lead with 2:40 left in the half as Turkey starts to make unforced turnovers. Team USA can’t do anything in the halfcourt offense, instead having to get almost everything in transition.

• Kobe gets a steal and hits Bron for a sweet tomahawk on the break. 50-37, USA leads. Then Dwight catches under the basket and just pounds one over about 15 Turkish players.

• CP3 hits a layup at the buzzer to push the US to a 54-37 lead. Yes, Turkish had a 7 point second quarter. Guess we can say Team USA played better defense that quarter.

• Second half, and Bron to the line immediately. I wonder if Joe Dumars is watching this game, seeing Melo killing everyone, and throwing darts at a picture of Darko.

• Kobe with a steal and oop to Dwight. Kamla says, “Thus the nickname, D-Howitzer.” Where is that his nickname? Then Dwight goes right down the lane for another dunk. 60-39, 8:10 to go.

• Arsalan goes right around Kidd for a layup. If there’s a weakness I’ve seen is it’s that Team USA can’t stop ball penetration. At least when Kidd’s in the game.

• Whoa — Fraschilla gives us his projected 2012 Team USA, which includes Rodney Stuckey and Kevin Martin. I’d think maybe Joe Johnson could make it over either of them. But then, I’m not announcing the game from a studio in Bristol.

• Akyol hits a three, y’all.

• Wade breaks someone’s ankles and hits Bron inside. Then Bron hits Kobe for a reverse slam. Team USA leads 68-46.

• Bron hacks Gonlum inside and Gonlum doesn’t like it one bit. Bron doesn’t seem to give a crap.

• Kobe hits two free throws to make it 70-49. Kamla and Fraschilla are deep into a conversation about Josh Childress going to Greece. Now it’s 72-49. Then Bron dunks on a run-out to make it 74-49. Three for Turkey, then Wade gets a reverse dunk on a run-out. Turkey hits another three, then CP3 gets a tear drop. Turkey looks like they’re ready for this to be over. Then Kobe and Melo get out on a run out and Kobe bounces a ball off the floor for Melo to dunk.

• Tayshaun Prince! He checks in for the first time and looks all smooth and carefree. We’ve officially entered blowout territory. D-Wade pulls a double 360 in the post and draws the foul.

• Turkoglu is sitting on the bench for Turkey. Fraschilla says this year was the first time Turkoglu did not play on the same NBA team as another international player. Which is strange because I could’ve sworn that Puerto Rico international player Carlos Arroyo played on the Magic this season.

• BTW, if I was announcing right now I’d be talking about a 2,100-year-old computer being found. Now that’s a story, right?

• Wade drops a pass behind-the-back to Howard on the break for a huge tomahawk. Hey, that’s why he’s known as D-Howitzer. And after three, it’s 87-59. We might be watching this fourth quarter in fast-forward.

• D-Wade is back! Early in the fourth, and in traffic Wade just pulled a hop-step and dunk that was completely improbable. 93-63, Team USA.

• USA is up 98-69 with 6:13 to go. By the way, international basketball is completely out of control — Disaster Dickau might be balling overseas!
• Michael Redd hits a jumper from the wing to break the clock — USA leads 100-71. Boozer then gets wiped inside. Then he fouls a Turkish player driving to the rim. I know Booz is a good NBA player, but I can’t believe he made the Olympic team. Couldn’t be because he went to Duke, could it?

• Also, glad to see that Ron Artest is still as crazy as ever. See his quotes about Yao Ming? From the Sacramento Bee…

“I’m still ghetto. That’s not going to change. I’m never going to change my culture. Yao has played with a lot of black players, but I don’t think he’s ever played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture. Once Yao Ming gets to know me, he’ll understand what I’m about. If you go back to the brawl, that’s a culture issue right there. Somebody was disrespecting me, so he’s got to understand where I’m coming from. People that know me know that Ron Artest never changed.”

• It’s 107-74 now, with 3:29 to go. I’m reading web sites waiting for the game to end.

• So that’s that. USA 114, Turkey 82. Bron had 20, Melo 17, Dwight 15. Team USA looked great, but the only part in the game where Turkey had energy and depth — the first quarter — they hung right with the USA. Not much of a test, really. But there’s four more exhibitions before the Olympics start, and I’m planning on watching all of them.

Aiight, time to go to work. Later…