by Lang Whitaker

After one quarter, Team USA was clinging to a 27-23 lead over Australia. The Aussies were nailing outside shots, driving to the rim, and Andrew Bogut was playing like the number one pick in the 2005 Draft.

And then the second quarter happened. The numbers in the second quarter were pretty staggering, but the main thing to notice is that Team USA won the second quarter, 32-6. Every Aussie pass was contested (11 turnovers in the first half), and Team USA seemed to get a hand on every dribble.

By the half, Team USA was leading 59-29, and the game was effectively dunzo. The US led 88-49 after three and won 113-73.

Some notes…

• An hour before tip-off, I tried to read up on Team Australia, to see what Team USA was going to have to face. The first story I read on the match-up was an AP story, which quoted Dwyane Wade as saying, “The only thing I know about them is they got Andre Bogut. I mean Andrew Bogut.”

• That said, Bogut started off brilliantly, scoring 9 points in the first five minutes, draining threes and controlling the interior. After he picked up his second foul he took a seat, which was about when things fell apart for the Aussies. He returned in the second quarter, but he seemed tired and never recaptured the same energy he began with.

• I thought Team USA had their best game offensively, and I don’t mean shooting the ball. They were able to create open shots no matter what sort of defense the Aussies played (and they threw a lot of defenses out there, from zones to traps to man-to-man). Throwing a zone at Team USA is no longer a sure-fire method of stopping them, especially when Elton Brand is on the floor, as he’s able to work the free throw line-extended and get open 15-footers, which he makes his living on.

• Best offensive player for Team USA was Carmelo Anthony, who once again was able to do pretty much whatever he wanted, from driving to the basket to perimeter shooting. He’s particularly good at getting off jumpers without needing a step to create space.

• Team USA’s best all-around player was probably LeBron James, who continues to show what an outstanding passer he is. He’s great not only at moving the ball around, but also at driving and finding the open guy.

• Most improved player for Team USA was very obviously Chris Bosh. And honestly, I’m not so sure if it was anything he did differently as much as it was just a fast-paced game better suited to Bosh’s speed and mobility. Either way, breathe easy Raptors fans, because your man is back and playing well.

• Worst look of the game goes to Antawn Jamison, who apparently hasn’t found a barbershop or a razor in Japan. His mustache is getting so thick he’s starting to look like Rollie Fingers.

• ESPN continues to refuse to admit that they’re too cheap to send their announcers to Japan. Well, either they’re too cheap or they think the fans of basketball watching in America are better off listening to announcers calling a game off a TV set. Which is it, ESPN?

• Worst blatant attempt for an unauthorized tie-in to Allen Iverson: Anyone notice in those commercials for Crossover, the streetball movie, that Hot Sauce plays a guy named Jewelz?

• Finally, a few words about the Aussies, because I know we have a lot of readers down under: It was hard to get a read on them because they were so overwhelmed after the first quarter, but they seemed to have a lot of interchangeable swingmen and big guys. Their guard play — or lack of play — was what got them in trouble; their best passer was Bogut, and they occasionally ran a triangle offense to let Bogut control the ball in the high post and spot cutters. Brad Newley had the most consistent game for the Aussies, and guard Aaron Bruce had a nice fourth quarter. Overall, though, Australia was simply overmatched.

• The US is now off until Wednesday, when they take on Germany in the quarterfinals. We’ll be watching…