The Games of the 29th Olympiad: Men’s Basketball, Preliminary Round, Group B: United States vs. Spain, Live Blog

Because there’s nothing like Olympic basketball on a Saturday morning at 10 AM to give me reason to wake up early on a lazy weekend day.

The U.S. uniforms are really interesting, what with the intricate designs on the panels.

And Mike Breen and Doug Collins begin singing LeBron James’ praises; honestly, he’s been fantastic, so I don’t see why they shouldn’t, but Dwyane Wade’s been just as good.

My prediction: United States 95, Spain 80. This Redeem Team is just on too good a run right now.

A whistle? On the tip? Yeah, I get to link to this.

LeBron for a showy two inside; Spain answers in the paint.

Howard with some moves inside, draws a foul on Pau Gasol and then puts in two; Rudy Fernandez fires away from three and puts Spain on top. Blazers fans rejoice.

Spain’s Felipe Reyes gets another bucket. It’s 7-4, Spain.

A Carmelo Anthony sighting! He knocks down a three.

Good defense by LeBron gets a quick look for Howard on the other end, who converts and makes it 9-7, United States, then erases that good will with a bad goaltend.

Wade comes in and the chorus of commendation continues.

LeBron gets a “Wooooo!” out of Collins with a slicing drive finished with a typical thunderous dunk. Jose Calderon hits on the other end; LeBron then nails a three.

Chris Paul and Deron Williams come in; LeBron, though, has no use for them and drives, gets fouled, and goes to the line, hitting his two.

Spain’s uniforms: Interesting. I don’t like the red-yellow-red of the “ESP” on the front, but the font is quite nice. United States uniforms: Love the blue, love the designs, not a fan of the star inside the A.

Felipe Reyes with a brilliant lay-up, keeping it out of Chris Bosh’s reach inside.

Here comes everyone’s favorite international player, Ricky Rubio. I’ve been meaning to post on him; the back of his jersey says “Ricky,” and that would be enough reason, but there’s a chance he could be a taller Chris Paul or a better-on-defense Steve Nash. A legitimate chance.

Paul hits two free throws and fouls Rubio at the other end.

Carmelo, again, from three, opens up an eight-point lead.

“He’s not the quickest or the most athletic, but he’s so smart for his age,” Mike Breen reports on Rubio. And it’s true; he’s been in passing lanes and moving on defense so far.

Pau and Marc Gasol both have their first names on their uniforms, by the by, but Rubio’s has no real reason to be there instead of his surname.

Two great passes by Paul, one a drop-off to Carmelo on a drive, one a baseball pass to Wade, lead to four points in splashy fashion.

Marc Gasol has a 4-0 personal run, one inside and one on an 18-footer. And another two by Spain cuts the lead to seven…

…but Dwyane Wade flies upcourt with a loose ball and slams home the final bucket of the first quarter to bring it back to a nine-point margin.

At the end of one, it’s the United States 31, Spain 22.

Good defense by Spain inside to stop a LeBron drive at one end; smart play to reset by Rubio at the other, and his smart entry pass gets a good shot for Reyes, who converts.

Then, Tayshaun Prince comes in, hits a three, and is the alley to Bron’s oop on the next possession.

LeBron gets a steal; he elevates almost immediately, though, and has no angles on a pass to Jason Kidd. Ricky Rubio basically forces a pass right to him, turning it into a quick two for the Spaniards. Great play by Rubio.

Kobe Bryant with a dunk.

I lied: Pau Gasol has Gasol on his jersey. It’s, I’m sure, a matter of seniority. (Yeah, like I know.)

The tempo of the first quarter has turned into a slower, halfcourt game; nice ball movement for the U.S. is ending in turnovers and well-defended shots on offense, and Spain’s executing their sets nicely.

Okay, Rudy Fernandez has Rudy on his jersey. I guess you can put whatever you damn well please on the back of your jersey if you’re a Spanish Olympic basketball player.

Kobe picks up his third foul; it’s a big deal, with just one more before he’s out of the game. The U.S. will miss his defense.

And they do, after a failed fast-break; Spain gets the ball upcourt with one American defender back, and Pau Gasol puts in an easy two.

Carmelo with a tough turn-around jumper.

Marc Gasol has an odd routine at the line, with a one-handed, close-to-the-floor dribble that makes him look like someone’s grandmother.

Spain has a 4-0 run at the line, then breaks down while flying around on defense and squanders a possession with a three-second call, which turns into a Deron Williams triple.

Any time the Spaniards get a little bit of momentum, the U.S. crushes it and adds a point or two to their lead; that’s why it’s ballooned to a 54-36 advantage.

Well, that and Spain’s 16 turnovers.

And, you Canadians who can watch the track and field? It’s probably better than this game. For my fellow Americans, the spoiler article is here.

Collins tells us the reason the U.S. is good on defense is that they’re defending the weak-side pick-and-roll much better. Yeah, I’d agree with that, but, uh, compared to previous years, they’re also much quicker.

Ricky Rubio’s one-handed flick to Rudy Fernandez? Pretty.

Paul goes from traveling on one possession to zipping down the court on the next.

Carlos Boozer, the forgotten man of this U.S. team, comes in for the first time, as Paul puts in the 59th point for the Americans this half.

It’s interesting to see that Willem Defoe is coaching the Spanish national team.

Who is Berni Rodriguez? I don’t know, but he’s got his first name on his jersey.

Great sequences by the U.S. on defense and offense: forcing Rudy Fernandez into a bad, early shot at one end, then Paul racing in, dishing to Boozer, and Wade and Boozer both getting rebounds in a crowd.

There, a microcosm of the half: sloppy play by Spain on offense and poor interior defense allowing the U.S. to capitalize. That’s why it’s the United States 61, Spain 45 at the half.

I neglected to post this great Marvin Gaye anthem commercial last time I blogged. So:

A great rendition, and the long version of the commercial, there.

“All Because of You” is a great choice for montage music.

I’m not even linking to the result, which I stumbled over on NBC’s site, but the final of the 100 meters is going to be well worth watching. Don’t spoil it for yourself.

Your box score for this game is here. Notable: LeBron leads all scorers with 14 and has four steals; Chris Paul has four rebounds to lead all players; every Spanish player who’s entered the game has committed a turnover.

And we’re back.

Nice job by Jason Kidd on making that tip, then totally neglecting to follow it. This is why you’re the third-best point guard on this team.

Kobe, with a two-handed finish, also puts Rudy Fernandez on his back.

Carmelo Anthony is The Archer: a third three for him. He’s broken the Spanish zone better than anyone else tonight Beijing/this morning East Coast by being the U.S.’s best spot-up shooter.

Dwight Howad continues to be ineffective inside. He’s been a disappointment throughout this Olympics, and his badly missed free throw there just reinforces it: he’s a better player without the constant contact of the international game, where he can get easy jams and continuation fouls. Here, he’s not making shots, and he’s not making free throws.

Anthony makes another three. And a good block at the other end for Howard, though it gets overshadowed by Kidd’s first shot in the Olympics, a lay-up, going in and stretching the U.S. lead to 24.

Spain hits a two. Then Marc Gasol hits another feathery fadeaway.

Juan Carlos Navarro needs to get rid of the black shoes, black socks combination. It’s awful.

Chris Paul, a steal at one end and a nice fake-to-glass-kisser at the other.

We’ve settled into a trading baskets phase of this game…

…and then Dwyane Wade hammers one home. Sweet Jesus.

It’s 78-60, U.S., if you were wondering.

If you have to ruin the 100-meter final for yourself, do so here. Just watch it again later, okay?

Wade swats down a lay-up. He’s as indispensable to this team as LeBron or Kobe, and he’s looking like the MVP of this Olympics to me; he’s even more omnipresent than LeBron, and even faster in transition than Kobe.

A Michael Redd sighting! Wasn’t he supposed to be the ace shooter in the rotation?

Felipe Reyes fights inside for two; he’s got 15 and 6 to lead Spain in both categories.

Doug Collins on his vocabulary: “I’ve got flummoxed and ballyhooed.” Except he says “flumm-OXED,” not “FLUM-ixed,” which is how I’ve always heard it.

Oh, boy: Breen says Wade is “playing with joy again.” No, he’s not playing with joy, he’s playing with fire. That’s not a simple enjoyment of the game I see in Wade’s inspired play so far; it’s a steely determination to prove he’s every bit as good as the guys (LeBron, Kobe, Paul) who have eclipsed him while he’s been dealing with injury after injury.

Fantastic job to split the press by Chris Paul, plus a pass whipped to LeBron, who fires it in to Chris Bosh, who thunders one home. That will end the scoring for the third quarter.

It’s the United States 86, Spain 63.

It was a 25-18 third quarter, and the Spaniards only added four turnovers to their total. It’s gone from the U.S. capitalizing on Spain’s sloppiness to the U.S. clamping down on defense.

Good anticipation by Rubio while Craig Sager’s talking to Tina Thompson, but he can’t finish on the other end. Half of a great NBA player, there.

LeBron forces a turnover underneath, and Wade makes the crowd gasp with a dunk, and, then, again, with an acrobatic drive and a good follow.

Here comes the parade of reserves: Prince in for James, Williams in for Paul, Redd in for Wade. Kobe’s still on the floor.

Rubio to Gasol for two. Fernandez for three. Neither can get the lead to less than 21.

The U.S. is lax on defense and less aggressive on offense without Wade and James, but, really, there’s no way they lose this game.

Especially when Kobe’s hitting garbage-time threes.

Collins is breaking down the differences between Bosh and Howard this Olympics; essentially, it’s that Bosh gets how to play this international game and hustle, and Howard doesn’t.

Nice pass from an Illinois man to a Buckeye (Williams to Redd). Redd puts it in and gets fouled, but his chance to make it a 30-point lead doesn’t fall, so it’s only 100-71.

This is a much, much more lop-sided game than anyone would have predicted, and it’s not like the U.S. is playing at full speed while Spain isn’t showing their hand. At least early, Spain was running sets and trying to keep up; the Americans simply haven’t allowed it.

Paul slithers his way through the defense and lobs it to Howard, who obliges with the monstrous dunk. Then Williams follows with a streaking drive and a reverse lay-up.

So, wait, FIBA’s going to make their game more like the NBA?

Two more steals and transition baskets for the U.S. It’s just silly at this point.

Spain isn’t playing defense, and their offense has boiled down to just shot-putting balls at the hoop in a sort of half-pass, half-shot fashion. Just an ugly end to an ugly game for the Spaniards.

LeBron’s back on the court, perhaps out of boredom, or perhaps to give more context for the sixth time that Vitamin water commercial will air after this game is over. And he’s still great.

Chris Paul’s still running around on defense and trying for rebounds in the waning moments of this one. I don’t have to wonder why I love him.

The final: United States 119, Spain 82.

I typed 199 first up there, and that’s about how it felt.

Have to like the GE commercials about bringing healthcare to rural India and China. That’s a good way to accrue some public good will during the Olympics you’re broadcasting.

“A rampant destruction” just doesn’t sound quite right, Jim Lampley. Total would have worked; romp would have worked. The way you said it? Uh, not so much.

And, really, there’s no good way to describe how good the U.S. was today; this team would have given the original Dream Team a run for its money. They were two steps ahead on defense and converted nearly every transition opportunity into points. Sharp shooting outside from Anthony and James helped extend the lead early, and Dwyane Wade’s excellent defense helped preserve it throughout.

Spain played poorly, too, with no rhythm offensively and about as much discipline, but there was no small amount of U.S. contribution to that showing. They can’t be optimistic about their chances to medal, with Lithuania, Argentina, and a very impressive American team all looming as future podium residents.

And I’ll be signing off now. Thanks for reading.

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2 Comments

Filed under Live Blogs, Olympics

2 responses to “The Games of the 29th Olympiad: Men’s Basketball, Preliminary Round, Group B: United States vs. Spain, Live Blog

  1. Dude, is NBC using “Roundball Rock” as its bumper music going to halftime? Awesome.

  2. Pingback: The Games of the 29th Olympiad: Men’s Basketball, Gold Medal Game: United States vs. Spain, Live Blog « The Arena

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