Monday, August 4, 2008

LeBron sees time at center position as Team USA routs Turkey

Didn't catch the USA v Russia game last night (though I saw the highlights), but I did watch most of the U.S. game against Turkey the other night as the Americans rolled, 114-82.

Team USA's defensive pressure kept Turkey from initiating its offense during the last three quarters of the game with great on-ball pressure. Kobe and LeBron combined for 10 of Team USA's 16 steals. Defensively, Team USA's wing players have done a great job of jumping in passing lanes and getting deflections and steals.

The U.S. defense really picked it up after the first quarter, when Turkey was only down by one, 31-30. Turkey ran some nice continuity offense and really spread the floor with great spacing in the opening quarter.

The second quarter was a different story as Team USA's second unit turned up the defensive pressure, holding Turkey to just seven points in the period.

Turkey's gameplan was to go inside, and they had some success with it, but they failed to rebound effectively. Team USA had a 22-12 defensive rebounding edge for the game as Dwight Howard had six defensive boards; LeBron had five.

It looked like that, at about the middle of the third quarter, Turkey kind of gave up.

The most interesting part of the game might have been seeing LeBron James as a 5-man, which allowed the defense to extend and pressure full court. Contesting the 3-ball and defensive rebounding must be a focus for the Americans.

On the offensive end, the one area Team USA has really excelled is transition offense, especially after their opponent takes a long perimeter jumper. It's incredible how many dunks Team USA is getting off of leak-outs.

Coach K does a great job after timeouts of diagramming pick-n-rolls (lobs to picker).

Other than that, Team USA is doing a great job of sharing the ball and taking good shots. LeBron and Carmelo went a combined 13-15 from the field. Chris Bosh was perfect on the night, hitting all four of his field goals and all five of his foul shots. Carmelo was also perfect from the foul line (5-5). [Here's the final box score.]

Hedo Turkoglu, the eight-year NBA veteran who started all 82 games and averaged almost 20 ppg for the Magic last season, had a leg injury and didn't play for Turkey.

[By the way, the game was played at the new 15,000-seat arena at the Venetian Resort in Macau, China. Looks like an incredible place.]