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Friday, August 13th, 2010 at 12:02 pm  |  38 responses

Team USA Scrimmage

The World Basketball Festival has officially arrived!

by Matt Lawyue / @mlawyue

Team USA continued its march to Istanbul with its third day of training in New York City late yesterday evening, albeit in a very particular way. Nike’s World Basketball Festival kicked-off its four-day event with a special Team USA showcase at Radio City Music Hall. Yes, there was a regulation sized FIBRadio City Music HallA court built on the stage.

“Literally, we played on the big stage tonight,” Lamar Odom says. “I think it was different. The ambiance, the background — as far as shooting the ball — but it was fun.”

It should have been fun for the Lakers forward (13 points, 2 threes in 18 minutes), who, along with Andre Iguodala (leading scorer with 15 points and 6 rebounds), shined the brightest when the lights came on. In two, 12-minute periods Team USA held an intra-squad scrimmage that was tied at the end of regulation sending it to an unprecedented, first-team-to-score-wins overtime. The Blue Team walked away victorious courtesy of a Rajon Rondo alley-oop to Tyson Chandler.

Blue Team: Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Tyson Chandler, Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green

White Team: Russell Westbrook, Chauncey Billups, Rudy Gay, Danny Granger, Lamar Odom, JaVale McGee, Kevin Love, Eric Gordon

(Bold denotes starters)

It was an ugly game, marred by too many attempted three-pointers (combined 7-36), missed jumpers (combined 39-92) and sloppy ball handling (27 turnovers in 24 minutes). Then again, it was just a practice, played under very unusual conditions. There was an open audience to the left of the court, while a curtain and enormous jumbo-tron stared at them from the right. Over the past two scrimmages against the USA Select Team at John Jay Criminal Justice, Coach K and his staff had focused on pressuring the opponent high up the court, working in some zone, which they utilized for all of two minutes yesterday, and building chemistry on the court.

For the most part, the battles for the 12 roster spots are near an end. As last night showed, Billups, who logged the most minRajon Rondoutes of any guard, will most likely be the veteran point starting along side either Derrick Rose or Rajon Rondo. With the way Stephen Curry has been shooting the ball (4-10 from three last night; three coming in the second period) all week, he could be the first guard off the bench. Perhaps this edges out Eric Gordon of a roster spot, who has been productive during practice, although not quite at Curry’s level.

Odom showed last night his value to this team, doing a bunch of little things to be productive. Knocking down threes, driving to the hoop, and being a lengthy body on defense. The swingman positions seemed to be locked down by Iguodala, who was very impressive and has been all week, along with Durant, Gay and Granger, who returned to practice after sitting out Day 2 with a dislocated finger. This perhaps pushes Jeff Green out of the picture.

The center position is the most intriguing — and confusing — spot to predict. Tyson Chandler will surely have the five spot wrapped up, although in 21 minutes out of a total 24 yesterday, he grabbed just two total rebounds while the opposing team shot 19-46. JaVale McGee continues to show his inexperience, losing his footing on one play and unnecessarily throwing the ball at the rim. The thing about McGee, though, is do you bring him to Turkey just for insurance? He’s the only other legitimate center besides Chandler, but his skill level and mindset don’t seem to be what Team USA is expecting at this level. Then again, if Chandler goes down in an early game, who does Coach K use? Odom? Love? They’ll have to go even smaller than they expected, something that will surely hurt them on the glass. Jerry Colangelo said yesterday they could potentially bring all 15 to Turkey, before they submit their final roster, and make their decision then.

It’s difficult to judge everybody when they’re only playing against themselves, so their exhibition on Sunday against Team France should be a really telling analysis of where they stand. See you then.

Lamar Odom & Team USA

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  • lalala

    niceee odom

  • lalala

    odom odom odom

  • slamfan4life

    Stat line?

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    I’m worried about the center position as well. We knew the days of the dominant big man are behind us, but is injury prone Tyson Chandler the best USA can do? And JaVale McGee as his backup?

  • lalala

    lalalalalaaaa

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    And if 7-36 from three doesn’t say something about the team’s range (in a scrimmage no less), I don’t know what does.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Nice work all week, Matt. And GREAT photos by Nike!

  • http://double-technical.blogspot.com zee!

    Ooodooommmm…..

  • Robb

    those pics are awesome

  • lexluther703

    Absolutely amazing photos, there’s nothing like the USA basketball experience… shout out to NIKE doin the damn thang

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    must be weird to literally watch them on a stage

  • mister8

    Wow…that looks sick!

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    Those pics are so trippy. I like it.

  • http://slamonline.com Chris O’Leary

    Echoing at least two or three others in here, the photography is amazing. Instant wallpapers.

  • http://Www.lku.hf Darksaber

    Holeeee shiiite, that backdrop is fantastic. Looks like they be playing for the Gods in an arena on Mount Olympus.

  • http://shinefluid@aol.com CHI-TOWN SAID IT JOE

    i thought playing on a stage was a health hazard. good thing everyone came out unscathed

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    which brings up a good point, is there somewhere that has more pix of this scrimmage somewhere?

  • http://slamonline.com Matt Lawyue

    Here’s where we got the pics from: http://worldbasketballfestival.nikemedia.com/#/august_12_2010

    Surprisingly, the ball only rolled off the stage once.

    I hear ya Ryne. Unlucky with all the injuries to the Lopez bros, DLee, etc

  • nastierthanu

    I taped the game and it was beautiful the way the court shined under the lights. Very cool

  • hangtime Hec

    Co sign Darksaber. Those pics are stunning.

  • vanillagorrila

    Where is Aldridge? I thought for sure LA would be a fixture with the complete lack of size this year.

  • http://slamonline.com Matt Lawyue

    @vanillagorrila: Q: What happened with Team USA? Why did you back out on that?
    A: My body was just tired. I played the most minutes I’ve ever played in the NBA. So I wanted to give my body time to heal. I didn’t want to get any nagging injuries.

    (http://blog.oregonlive.com/behindblazersbeat/2010/07/trail_blazers_qa_lamarcus_aldr.html)

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

    those pics are amazing (thanks for the link by the way, Matt)

  • Shifty

    See that crowd in the photos…..that looks of the hook.

  • eugene

    Where can i watch this and when is it?

  • don

    the photos are awwwweeeesooommmmmmee..

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    Wow!!! that’s the dopest lighting ever for a bball shoot.

  • K.a.

    Very cool pics. I could totally imagine opera being sung over the game with the audience all hushed up, surreal yo.

  • Andrew

    Pictures from the stage are remarkable. Rondo’s game-winning pass was nuts, he pretty much one-touched it back to Chandler.

    http://www.noregard.net/2010/08/we-told-you-there-was-more.html

    Link has video of the alley-oop game-winner, and then Rondo trying to find a seat for the Jay-Z show after. He got shorted.

  • Ronald

    Awesome pics. The arena looks awesome.

  • tavoris

    Man, it felt so good to walk thru MSG yesterday and see MANY people taller than I am (6’7″). Anonymity is a blessing sometimes.

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    Sweet pictures. Is Pau playing for Spain? If so Team USA will have their hands full against Spain, aint no way Chandler/McGee/Love/Odom can guard Pau in a FIBA setting. The US Team for the last olympics was far stronger than this one, and still the Final against Spain was competetive (until a certain point), this WC in Turkey looks quite intriguing I must say. The US rooster is by no means scary, still the favs though.

  • Harrell

    Marc is playing but someone tell durant to take his hands off his hips, practice has started!

  • Boom Dizzle

    They shot 7-36 from three in a Fiba court?

  • cool j

    I don’ t see the US winning the world cup,can’ t shoot,can’ t rebound.A few teams will be able to beat them: Spain,Argentina,Brazil…

  • http://slamonline.com Dave.

    Really could have done without endless and identical photos of Jay-Z, but otherwise the pics are awesome.

  • Ron Ron Hustle

    is there any video of this

  • jcoo

    STEPH CURRY! my boy doing his thing. he’ll shoot better later on.. the three line is too close haha

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