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Sunday, August 29th, 2010 at 9:12 am  |  48 responses

Live Blog: USA vs Slovenia

Durant and Co. look to make it 2-0

by Matt Lawyue / @mlawyue / photo courtesy of FIBA World’s

So that was easy. Yesterday’s demolishing of Croatia (106-78) sent a loud message throughout the basketball universe (particularly contrasting against Spain’s unexpected loss) that Team USA should not be underestimated. Despite all the chatter about being too small, too young and too inexperienced, the American’s put on a well-rounded offensive display. Overall they shot 55.4 percent from the field, while going 12-30 beyond the arc. After a tight first quarter, where the Croatian’s pounded the ball inside for close buckets, Kevin Durant lead the charge in the second quarter where USA outscored Croatia 26-6.

“I think we did a great job of talking in the second quarter,” Durant says. “Guys put pressure on the defense. It was a great team win. If you look at the scoreboard, everybody had a bucket, everybody contributed. It was a good win for us.”

Four of those 12 three’s were courtesy of Eric Gordon, who many thought would be cut at the start of training camp. The Clipper led the team with 16 points in 22 minutes.

When asked if he’s ever been cut from a team in his life, he casually responds, “No.” It also helps he plays with guys who can penetrate in the lane, leaving him open for the three. “This game is easier when you spot up and shoot to make shots,” Gordon says.

This afternoon the Americans match up against Slovenia. The crowd will be heavily European, whose fans came out in full force yesterday for their victory over Tunisia. Expect a sea of green.

For our American readers, the game is on ESPN 2 at 9:30 AM EST.

Pregame

-I decided to do a regular live blog today, seeing as how it’s a 9:30 am start on the east coast. For the few of you awake and ready, feel free to comment below. I’ll be looking out for them.

-Has Nelly’s Heart of a Champion become as ubiquitous at basketball games as Queen’s We Will Rock You at football games?

-So…much…green in the stands. Slovenia fans doing it big.

-I said it yesterday on Twitter, but Miha Zupan of Slovenia is Brian Scalabrine’s doppelganger. And he’s deaf. Just incredible. It looks like he has white hearing aids in his ears.

-USA starting five: Rose, Billups, Iguodala, Durant, Odom
-Slovenia starting five: Lakovic, Dragic, Nachbar, Slokar, Brezec

First Quarter

-Durant with a quick swipe on Slokar. Defense turns to offense for USA.

-As deafening as it is in here, USA is have no trouble communicating on offense. Easy drive and dish for Durant and Iguodala.

-Yes, it’s loud in here and very pro-Slovenia. A big offensive explosion in the first should dampen their fans’ spirit. USA jumps to a 10-2 lead on the back of Durant’s 5.

-Slovenia calls a quick timeout to try and stop the momentum, only to have Durant dunk the ball on the ensuing possession. This could get out of hand really quickly.

-Dragic was running circles against Tunisia yesterday, but he sits with two early fouls. Not so easy when you’re going up against Billups and Rose, compared to Kechrid and Maoua.

-USA getting anything they want inside. Interior defense for Slovenia is non-existent. 12 points in the paint for USA so far. 18-9 USA.

-Gay has played three minutes and already put up three shots and two free throws. You know he’s getting his.

-USA leads 23-11 after one. Alarming 7 turnovers, but shoot 9-14 and hold Slovenia to 4-18.

Second Quarter

-USA sloppy with the ball again. Make that 9 turnovers.

-Count it 11.

-…12. Despite all this carelessness, Team USA up 9. Slovenia can’t counter on the sloppy play. 25-16 USA with 6:21 remaining in the second.

-On all possessions Odom keeps encouraging the team to play on. He’s getting on Gordon to hustle back and stop worrying about the refs. And he’s grabbing defensive boards. True veteran right there.

-Kevin Love enters the game at the five, and immediately Team USA falls asleep on defense. Dragic to Brezec for the dunk. 27-21 USA. It’s getting loud again…

-PA announcer calls him Russell Westbruuuuuuk.

-It’s 38-25 USA after another Kevin Love and-1. I mean, if you’re going to foul him at least wrap him up Slokar.

-42-28 USA at the half. Very physical play, lots of fouls (25), many USA turnovers (12) and 8-32 shooting for Slovenia. Durant with 15 and Love with 6 and 5.

Third Quarter

-Same starting five for both, except Jagodnik replaces Slokar.

-It’s back and forth right now. Dragic finally bags his first field goal.

-Sorry for the lack of updates that quarter, our man Tzvi had to jump in and fix some technicalities. As for the play, USA bagged some triples, forced turnovers and pushed the lead past 20. Slovenia tried to right itself in the end with some easy interior work by Vidmar. It’s 67-46 USA heading to the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

-Rose with some more dribble penetration. One for the dish to Odom, the other for his on bucket.

-Odom fouls out of the game picking up his fifth.

-Vidmar is a funny guy. It looks like he pretended to hurt his hand on the offensive board, so he walked away only to jump back in when an easy put back presented itself. Now he’s at the line..

-As much as Slovenia tries to crawl back in this, the USA always has an answer. It’s 81-59 with 5:30 remaining. This one’s in the books.

-Westbruuuk just rejected Rizvic and stared him down. Lucky for him this isn’t the NBA. He’d be T’d up so quickly.

-Down 25, these Slovenian fans are still as frequent with their chants as they were from the beginning. Gotta love fans like these.

-I’m not calling him Ray Allen, but after hitting four three’s yesterday, Eric Gordon is still sitting on zero (0-7).

-Right on cue, Gordon! He nails his first three.

-A second victory for Team USA in group play. This one ends 99-77 with Curry and Dragic sharing a laugh at mid-court. I’ll be back with quotes…

Postgame

It was Kevin Durant who led the American’s early first quarter push to make the Slovenian crowd a non-factor throughout this game. He finished with 22 points on 8-13 shooting, another productive, efficient night for the team’s star. The x-factor this game was the rebounding advantage Team USA had, grabbing 50 boards (14 offensive) to Slovenia’s 33. Kevin Love contributed a workman’s double double in just 13 minutes, spelling Odom during his foul issues (he fouled out).

“It was cool,” Durant says about playing against a hostile opposition crowd. “We did a better job early on in the game of keeping them quiet and making three’s. We know we can’t go out here and blow every team out. We had to make this a grind game and did a good job of keeping our composure.”

So far Coach K’s squad hasn’t faced much opposition, but tomorrow night’s match-up against Brazil will be a stiff test against veteran NBA players like Barbosa, Varejao and the soon-to-be Spur, big man Tiago Splitter. I’ll be running Cover It Live for that game tomorrow (2:30 PM EST), see you then.

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  • Milan

    At least one thing is in Slovenia’s favour, the crowd. 4000 at least expected and you could tell during the singing of the anthem.

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    I’ve said it a billion times and I’ll say it again: international announcers are simply amazing.

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    Oh my goodness! Andre Iguodala with the rebound!
    Love them foreign announcers.

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    Reggie Evans and I just had a good exchange on twitter…
    ReggieEvans30 “is USA winning”
    Me: “is Amir Johnson over-paid?”
    ReggieEvans30 “o wow.”

  • http://Www.fiba.com Darksaber

    It’s on TV over here, yayyy! So much better than watching streams on the PC.

  • http://Www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Primoz, what a soft move on that travel. Dunk it… Oops, he just did.

  • http://www.twitter.com/gerardhimself Gerard Himself

    interesting game so far, a bit chippy too.

  • http://Www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Kevin Love: STILL putting in work. Nice and1 there.

  • http://www.twitter.com/gerardhimself Gerard Himself

    wow who knew Billups was that great of an actor? Dragic clearly didn’t deserve his third foul. Ridiculous.

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    Lamar Odom is so versatile that he’s good at nothing in international play

  • http://www.twitter.com/gerardhimself Gerard Himself

    gotta love Love. Beast!

  • http://Www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Boki Nachbar or how the once spritely have fallen.

  • Groves

    @anton. Hilarious :D

  • http://www.twitter.com/gerardhimself Gerard Himself

    Matt, will the crowd riot between now and let’s say 40 minutes? Doesn’t sound like a happy bunch out there…

  • http://www.twitter.com/gerardhimself Gerard Himself

    Slovenia with a couple of buckets in a row. Scrappy bunch!

  • http://www.twitter.com/gerardhimself Gerard Himself

    I say “bunch” too much.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    Thanks for this, ML.

  • seppo

    This team USA is better than the Redeem Team.

  • http://www.twitter.com/gerardhimself Gerard Himself

    Odom’s fouled out.

  • http://www.twitter.com/gerardhimself Gerard Himself

    Rudy Gay makes scoring a basketball look easy. Effortless, whether he’s driving or shooting the 3.

  • http://www.twitter.com/gerardhimself Gerard Himself

    Westbrook with the HUGE block (highlight of the game?) and not a minute later he goes coast to coast…. he’s playing like they’re down 20, I like it.

  • Rallo

    Unc Matt do your thing over there. Looking for you in the crowd……

  • http://slamonline.com Matt Lawyue

    @Gerard – there will be no rioting. I think they realized there was such a slim chance of winning. They’re still chanting like it’s the beginning of the game..

  • larrylegend

    love is in the air…that and-1 was just amazing!

  • http://www.twitter.com/gerardhimself Gerard Himself

    yeah I wasn’t really serious about the riots, but you like said, you gotta love crowds like this. Thanks for the live blog.

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    This game needed a lot more Masheen

  • Ghost

    Missed the game, you guys know where I can get live streams for next time?

  • http://Www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Russel freaking Westbrook! *still shaking head in awe*

  • JoeMaMa

    On a separate note, how does Canada lose to Lebanon? I had that game as a win for us. Man…Lebanon?

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?clubcode=oly&pcode=AQU GIANNIS BOUROUSIS

    @joemama….:you should have said,’how can Lebanon lose to a team featuring 2 of the top-50 players in the world ‘(according to our own Nick) !!!! That list will keep us happy for the whole tournament..

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?clubcode=oly&pcode=AQU GIANNIS BOUROUSIS

    @joemama….: what was the final score in that game, justfinshed watching Greece…

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?clubcode=oly&pcode=AQU GIANNIS BOUROUSIS

    @joemama…:come on they lost to Lithouania, not a big thing…

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?clubcode=oly&pcode=AQU GIANNIS BOUROUSIS

    GREECE-PUERTO RICO….: close game till the end, anybody playing against Greece is giving it all these days, a great honor to win against one of the world top-4. We had problems against Ramos (no big Sofo) and ,like always, against Bareas spead…in the end it come down to one of the greatest defenders the game has seen (Diamantidis) forcing Barea to make 2 crusial mistakes. I hate Diamantidis for playing in Panathinaikos but the guy is like a shorter version of Scottie Pippen, truly amazing….on offence Spanoulis was his usual self, scoring big basket after big basket and sending once again the Puerto Rican’s packing. There are not more than 10 players in the world at the moment (NBA included) that can do what “kill bill” did in the 4th quarter of this game…we play our ‘final’ against Turkey on Tuesday,stay tuned.

  • Robb

    These group is pretty easy. Let’s see how it goes next round

  • JTaylor21

    Did some idiot just say that this team is better than the Redeem Team? WHAAAAAAT must be on that Chi Chi Chong.

  • JTaylor21

    SLAM, You guys should put up the “Tutti Fruity” Moment of the Week; BJennings getting his groove on to Lady Freaking Gaga, HILARIOUS!

  • http://Www.fiba.com Darksaber

    JT: guess he was imagining himself trying to ‘poke-her-face’.

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  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    @ghost – FIBA.com has a stream feed for every game played costs $30.00 i think and there’s no announcers unless they’ve improved it…. ?

  • Jon

    I’d like to ask, just who criticized the Americans for being too small and inexperienced? No one, only ESPN ‘analysts’ and other Americans.

    With guys like Durant, there no question in the world the USA have the bst squad. So don’t try to lower expectations by magnifying very minor flaws just in case you guys don’t win. The USA should win every international tournament despite the presence of other international all-stars.

    No other country comes close in terms of finding an superstar to lead them, let alone having guys like Rose, B-B-B-Billups, Iggy and Odom as players supporting a talent like Durant.

    My point is if the USA don’t win this tourney and the olympics, they should be thoroughly embarassed. Like in ’04.

  • JoeMaMa

    @Giannis: Canada lost to Lebanon in the first game. That’s an upset. And they barely lost to Lithuania. They could easily be 2-0, but instead they’re going to have to fight just to get out of the round. Ugh. After our top 4 finish in PR, I was sure we could make a few waves.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Where the hello do you guys watch Team USA games for free outside of America? Cot dayum, Raptors NBA TV sucks, even when there’s no WNBA Playoffs they still don’t air FIBA games.

  • Pnightmare

    @Jon – True, but won’t it be interesting to see them stack up against a team that actually realizes they could hurt team USA under the basket? (Greece, even Brazil)

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Westbrook reminds me of Wade on the Redeem Team. Just the energy he brings and the role he plays. He doesn’t have Wade’s offensive skill, but the way he’s playing is the way Wade played when he was pissed off and wanted everybody in the world to know he was in the discussion for best in the NBA.
    And Derrick Rose with a consistent jumper is scary. Or should be scary for every team that has to play the Bulls.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I think that ESPN shows the games on espn3.com if I’m not mistaken.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    Kevin Love, I seriously feel this guy is underrated.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    NIQ
    How so?

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Cot dayum, why does Canada not get ESPN? Seriously, as a Canadian I would be very very gracious if all our television came from the states. Keep CBC, CTV, Global, and The Score, but dammit I don’t want HBOCanada, I just want HBO!

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