Before the past week of camp in Las Vegas, people were worried about Team USA’s chances in this summer’s World Championship. Now, after a lot of practices, scrimmages and one nationally broadcast showcase, people are starting to warm up to this year’s version of Team USA. Before heading to Turkey in late August, the team will make one more stop in NYC at Nike’s inaugural World Basketball Festival (which we’re celebrating with a special issue due out next week). Until that hits newsstands, we hope this USA Basketball press release recapping Saturday night’s game holds you over:
Even though a pair of forwards led each team in scoring, depth and talent at the guard position, just as it had been throughout the USA Men’s National Team’s week-long training camp in Las Vegas, was on display in the USA White’s 114-96 win over the USA Blue in the 2010 USA Basketball Showcase at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
Both teams, playing in the intra-squad scrimmage that concluded the USA National Team’s 2010 Las Vegas training camp that opened July 20, combined to shoot 29-of-51 from 3-point range, and the White’s 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) mark from behind the arc helped lead it to a 114-96 win in front of a crowd of 11,635 and an ESPN2 national broadcast.
“We had a terrific week,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “We had a great response from our players. They really worked hard. They were aggressive, and we really got a lot out of this week. (There’s) tough decisions for us going forward for us.”
The White’s Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) led all scorers with 28 points, and was named the player of the game. But five more players scored in double figures for the White squad, including Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers) with 17, Eric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers) had 16, Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) scored 15 and Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks) was credited with 13 points (6-of-6 FGs) while raking in a game best nine rebounds.
Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies) led the Blue with 23 points, while O.J. Mayo (Memphis Grizzlies) scored 18, Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) added 14 and Jeff Green (Oklahoma City Thunder) tossed in 11 points and grabbed a team best eight rebounds. Durant shot 10-of-17 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3 for the White, which shot 55.3 percent from the field. The Blue, meanwhile, hit only 45.3 percent of its fieldgoals, and out-rebounded the White, 39-37.
In addition to his 15 points, Rose led the White with eight assists, while Iguodala added five. Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics), who scored seven points, led the Blue with six assists.
“As a coaching staff, we thought it was a really good week,” aid USA Men’s National Team and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “As always, coming to Las Vegas for USA Basketball was terrific. We want to thank the fans, so many people coming out for an intra-squad game, and it being on ESPN. It was a good showcase event for these guys. They’ve done a really good job this week and we’re getting to have a personality for our basketball team right now and anxious to get down to 15 and go to New York and try and personalize the team a little bit more.”
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) previewed the kind of game it would be when Rose found him for an open 3-pointer 40 seconds in. That started the White on a 16-7 run to open the game, a run during which Iguodala and Gordon also knocked down 3s.
The White led 22-12 after Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers) hit a 3-pointer of his own midway through the first quarter, but the Blue charged back with 3s from Gay and Mayo to pull within 29-23 at the end of the first.
The Blue would fight back to tie it at 29, though, thanks to six straight points from 7-foot forward JaVale McGee (Washington Wizards) to start the second quarter. After falling slightly behind, the Blue again deadlocked the score at 38 with 4:30 to play in the second quarter after Gay hit his third 3 of the game. Gordon, Durant and Iguodala, though, led the White on a 18-6 run to close out the first half, giving the White a 56-44 lead at the break.
Durant perhaps sealed his player of the game honor in the first four minutes of the third quarter, scoring 10 points in that span. When Granger hit a bucket with 4:35 left in the third, the White’s lead had expanded to 74-59, and they appeared to have the game well in hand.
“We have so many great guys on this team,” Durant said. “We have three or four point guards, two or three wings and couple of bigs, so you can play hard for three minutes straight, and then somebody is going to come in and get you and play the same way. I think that’s what unique about this team.”
The Blue, however, refused to surrender.
Gay and Mayo scored on back-to-back possessions to end the third quarter, then Mayo hit a 3 and Westbrook cruised to a fast-break layup off a steal to start the fourth and the Blue had closed within nine points, 83-74, with nine minutes still to play.
“I think this game was definitely a test for us,” Gay said. “That’s what we scrimmage for. We came out here and we tested to see exactly where we need to be. Personally, I think – I can always get better – but I think I did pretty good out there.”
Chandler, though, scored eight of his points in a five-minute stretch in the fourth to buffer the Blue’s lead 99-84 and the White never threatened the outcome again.
Four of the White squad’s players made at least two 3-pointers, including Curry, who shot 3-of-7, Iguodala (3-of-3), Durant (2-of-3), and Gordon (4-of-7). Meanwhile, Gay shot 3-of-4 from 3-point range to lead the Blue, while Mayo made 3-of-6 tries.
Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings) did not play after suffering a right ankle injury during training camp.
The 2010 Showcase ended a week of training in Las Vegas for the Men’s National Team, which will compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey from Aug. 28 to Sept. 12. While 19 players participated in the Las Vegas training, the USA official roster for Turkey will number 12. After a short break, finalists for the USA team will reconvene for training in New York City from Aug. 9-16.