by Lang Whitaker

I’d like to begin by announcing that I’m playing hurt today: Woke up a little while ago with the hiccups. We can put a man on the moon but we can’t invent a pill or something to stop hiccups? This is a first, liveblogging with hiccups. Let’s hope it doesn’t last long.

Anyway, we’ve got Team USA and Greece. Team USA is aiming for payback from their loss against Greece during the 2006 World Championships. Hopefully Greece doesn’t shoot 70 percent from the floor like they did last time.

According to the boxscore, not only is Kidd starting for the USA, but he’s also the team captain. So I guess any talk of him being replaced in the lineup was premature. Yeah. I’m telling you right now that there may be a typo or two with some of these Greek last names. I’ll do my best to correct anything I miss. I’m just saying…

Tipoff is minutes away…

FIRST QUARTER
• Team USA is starting the regular crew: Kidd, Kobe, LeBron, Melo, Dwight. Greece takes the tip…and Fotsis misses a three.

• Kobe returns and hits a leaner inside. 2-0, USA. Good to get Kobe going early.

• Hiccup.

• Spanoulis drives the lane and gets a lay-in to tie it up. Kobe draws a foul inside and goes to the line, his first free throw attempts of the Games. Good, good. 4-0, USA.

• Kidd picks up his second foul with 8:40 to go in the first. Greece goes right back at him, Diamantidis bangs him and Kidd picks up his third immediately. Later, Cap! Chris Paul checks in. Then Howard picks up an offensive foul. Uh oh…

• Kobe gets wacked on a fastbreak with no call, and then while fighting for a loose ball Spanoulis flops wildly and Kobe gets tagged with an “unsportsmanlike” foul. That’s five fouls on Team USA in the first 2:30 of the game. Incredibly it’s still just 4-4.

• Greece is in a match-up zone, and Bron misses a mid-range J from the wing. Dwight gets a huge block the other way and Melo comes back and hits a three from the corner. 7-6, 5:53 left in the first.

• Glyniadakis scores inside over Dwight, who’s being careful not to foul. Coach K goes nuts on the ref, complaining about three seconds.

• CP pushes into the paint and just runs right into a stationary Glyniadakis, and the refs call a foul on Glyniadakis. These refs are insane early on. The refs, by the way, are from Australia, Lithuania and Slovakia.

• Bosh comes in for Dwight and doesn’t box out on a free throw that Greece salvages for a bucket. Then Bosh scores inside to make it 11-9, Greece.

• Greece is playing at a pace that Pete Carrill would term “too slow.”

• How do you say, Hey, Hey, Hey, in Greek? Baby Shaq is in. He’s Hellas huge.

• Kobe weaves through the zone and hits LeBron for a dunk. Baby Shaq gets a shot off and as it hangs around the rim, Wade goaltends it out. CP with a crazy ballfake on the break and it’s tied at 13. Then Kobe gets a breakaway dunk to make it 15-13. The crowd goes wild. Really.

• Breen says Baby Shaq has “great hands.” Yeah, especially when the desert tray’s being passed.

• Baby Shaq plows into Bosh and picks up the offensive foul. Meanwhile, officials are still trying to extricate Bosh from the floor.

• Deron Williams in. Wade drives and dishes to Bosh who scores over Baby Shaq and yells. I was worried Baby Shaq would try to eat his tongue, but he didn’t.

• Somehow Melo ends up guarding Baby Shaq on the wing, and Team USA forces a 24 second violation. On the other end, D-Wade steals a rebound and scores. Greece gets a lay-in to make it 20-16.

• Wade gets decked under the rim and when the Greek player reaches out to help him up, Wade ignores him and glares at the ref. On the other end Wade grabs another board.

• Last shot of the quarter. Chris Paul ends up taking a contested three and missing. So, after one, it’s 20-16, Team USA.

• Besides Kidd (3 fouls), no one else on Team USA is in foul trouble. Kobe leads with 6 points and Bosh has 5. Spanoulis leads Greece with 4 points. Also worth noting, Greece is 0-4 on threes.

SECOND QUARTER
• Team USA opens the second by forcing two turnovers, and then Wade saves a ball going out of bounds with a huge alley-oop to Kobe. Wa wa wee wa!

• Wade had an amazing run there, with a couple of assists and steals. After Kobe misses an alley-oop, from Wade, Wade gets a break. It’s 26-21, USA, with 7:22 left in the half. Kobe misses a three as I type that.

• BTW, I still have the hiccups. Sucks.

• LeBron drives and gets hacked at the rim, and they actually make the call. I bet Kobe’s furious he’s not getting those calls. Bron to the line, good, miss, but Kobe gets the board and hits a cutting Wade, who gets a layup and a foul. He makes the free throw. Team USA leads 31-22, with 6:08 left in the half.

• Wow, Wade just froze a Greek defender who’d squared up against him. Then Greece gets a lay-in. USA is not defending that well inside.

• Bang! Wade with a three.

• Baby Sekou, I mean, Baby Shaq crills Bosh and picks up his third foul. Hellas back, Sofoklis.

• LeBron turns it over in the open court, Greece scores, then USA misses a layup. Next possession, Melo misses a contested layup and Bron soars in and dunks the miss on about five guys, including Melo.

• Collins says LeBron is leader of the team and everyone listens to him as he makes the calls on defense. Collins also says LeBron was “very” happy about the Cavs adding Mo Williams. Of course, Collins also completely made up a bunch of stuff about Joe Johnson during the last game, so who knows if he can be trusted?

• 38-30, 3:03 left in the half.

• Long three and Kobe wets it. 41-30, Team USA.

• LeBron leads a break and hits Bosh, who gets tangled up with Papaloukis. Bosh scores and makes the and one. 44-30.

• Bron with a steal on the weakside D. The ball pops out ahead, and Bron catches and reverses without a dribble. Greece calls a timeout. It’s 46-30, Team USA, and Greece can’t make anything happen from the perimeter.

• Out of the TO, USA stays in fullcourt man-to-man.

• Sorry, been trying to fix the comments in Italics.

• Bosh with a steal and Bron pulls a Curly Neal, dribbling in a circle with one hand on the court. And then last play of the half, Bosh swats a three from Spanoulis. So at the half, Team USA leads 51-32. Greece has 13 turnovers and is 0-7 on threes. Team USA’s shooting 54 percent from the floor and has attempted 11 free throws. Bosh is playing exceptionally well, as are Bron and Wade. The only guy doing much of anything for Greece is Spanoulis.

Greece is scoring their only baskets on easy layups, usually after a US Defensive breakdown because the US is so intent on doubling and defending on the perimeter. And if I’m Coach K, I’m OK with giving up an occasional layup if my guys can manage to create 14 turnovers in the half.

Bosh has 12 points, Kobe and Bron have 11 apiece and Wade has 10. LeBron leads the team with 4 assists, while Wade has 3. I will also point out that Kidd played just 1:25 in the first half and we’re up by 21. Draw your own conclusions.

I’m on my second espresso, by the way. Just kicked the hiccups, also.

THIRD QUARTER
• OK, the starters are back for Team USA. And Candace Parker is shown in the stands eating chocolate. Literally. Calm down, Khalid.

• Wade is 17-21 for the Olympics.

• LeBron misses a long 2 to start. Greece comes back and misses a three.

• Kobe misses a three and Kidd tips the rebound to Bron for a layup. Nice play by Kidd.

• Greece is in a fullcourt man-to-man defense, that Kidd breaks with the dribble and hits Melo inside, who gets fouled. Good, good. Team USA is ahead 53-32. Diamantidis begins bleeding spontaneously from the mouth during the free throws. He takes a seat.

• Fotsis hits Greece’s first three of the game. Then Kobe drives and gets hacked by Spanoulis, and he tosses the layup in. Misses the free throw and Dwight Howard picks up a foul.

• I’m about to type a sentence I’ve never typed in my life: When will Chris Bosh check in?

• Papaloukis hits a three. Next time down, Kobe swats a shot out of bounds.

• Melo swishes a three to push the lead back to 20. 6:56 left in the third.

• Howard blocks a shot off of Kidd’s dome and out of bounds.

• Three for Kobe. US leads 63-40.

• Spanoulis is rocking the “Marko Jaric 2003″ look out there.

• And there’s Bosh. Kobe with the dunk and the “crowd” goes wild.

• Starbury’s awake. Now I gotta deal with her while typing. Not fun.

• Greece makes some free throws to make it 65-47. Greece goes on the break and Bron wipes a layup. Greece gets the ball back and tries another layup, and Bosh wipes that one. Awesome sequence.

• Greece to the line. Good, good. Now it’s down to 16, with the USA leading 65-49.

• Bron with another block. Wade with a lay-in off a nice bounce pass from D-Williams.

• Just got an email from an NBA exec wondering if Doug Collins is getting paid by words per minute.

• Greece hits a three to make it 69-52. 1:30 left in the third.

• Wade draws the foul on a three-pointer, and he slaps Pelekanos on the butt on the way to their feet. Wade makes 1 of 3.

• If there’s anywhere Team USA can improve today, besides their help defense, I’d say it’s at the free throw line, as they’re just 12-19.

• Last possession at the half, and Wade gets a lay-in and one. Good. After three, Team USA leads 74-54.

FOURTH QUARTER
• Baby Shaq goaltends Bosh and tries to take a bite of the ball, unsuccessfully.

• If Doug Collins wants to get any credibility back, he should admit that he was completely wrong about the Hawks/Chris Paul/Marvin Williams stuff he screwed up in the Angola game. Because otherwise, how are we supposed to believe anything he says?

• Team USA is up 78-57. Greece is stuck into their 2-3 zone. Bron with a steal.

• 80-57, 7:08 left. Wade with his fifth steal of the game.

• Team USA is going with CP, Deron, Bosh, Bron and Wade. Then the Human Victory Cigar 1, Tayshaun Prince, checks in. And he immediately misses a jumper, cementing his Victory Cigar status.

• Spanoulis tackles Williams at halfcourt. No foul, but that’s a three yard loss for Team USA.

• Human Victory Cigar 2, Carlos Boozer, is in. We should call the seats where the Cigars sit The Humidor.

• Spanoulis to the line. Good, miss. 4:53 left and Team USA in control, 82-58.

• Paploukas commits Greece’s 24th turnover. Collins is talking about Team USA having a “good taste in your mouth.”

• Deron Williams with the layup, and one, on the pass from CP13. 84-62, 2:42 left in the game.

• Evander Holyfield is in the house! He may be working in the arena, not sure.

• So that’s it, team USA coasts to a 92-69 win. After Greece killed them in Japan with the pick-and-roll (mostly the rolls), Team USA defended them nearly perfectly tonight, forcing 25 turnovers. And when I say forcing, I mean it, because the USA was all over the Greeks the entire game. Here’s your final box score.

So that went well. Team USA now squares off on Saturday morning against Spain, which should be a great game. We’ll be back live for that one, too.