Team USA beat Lithuania 120-84 to improve to 3-0 in exhibition games. When you consider the level of competition, this was the best performance from this squad. What I liked the most was the way they came out defensively. Kobe really set the tone on both ends. They didn't allow Jasikevicius (their only good ball handler) to go to his right; they almost always forced him to his left. In the first half I also saw really good pick and roll defense.
I wish they'd been consistent. The first quarter was the most lop sided (31-15), the second, the closest (25-24). Even not looking at the numbers, I think the defense as a whole was at ease in the second half. They had moments (especially early in the third) where it looked like the game was going to get pretty close. I felt that the flow to Lithuania's game was better in the third quarter.
I also liked that everyone got a chance to score for the USA. While Jason Kidd may not be pushed that hard, it's important that he's bringing some offense of his own. Also, while Prince and Boozer may not see minutes when this thing gets serious, they need to be prepared in case of injury.
The play of the game has to be the windmill dunk off of an alley-oop from Chris Paul by Dwayne Wade.
Here it is:
Next, the USA will face Russia on Sunday at 3am Eastern on ESPN2. I, of course, am not going to get up to watch that one (hey, it's just an exhibition, right?). I will watch in human hours and talk about it here.
Photo by: Andrew D. Bernstein
Like Basketball Notes by Alex? Subscribe to the feed!