by Craig Kwasniewski
Team USA's depth and defensive ferocity overcomes extremely poor three point shooting as they beat China 101-70. China shot the lights out from beyond the arc to keep it close for a half but USA eventually wore down the hosts going 12 deep with constant on-the-ball pressure. It was an awesome/dominant display by both LeBron and Wade... but who cares?
The best part about the game...
It wasn't on ESPN!!!! No Stuart Scott doing his "look at me" routine and killing the broadcast (I can't stress it enough, the guy is killing basketball on TV for me!). No retarded ADD announcers calling Team USA (Seriously, Rick Kamla needs to stop doing 27 lines of blow and 5 cans of Monster before every game, USA Basketball is not the WWE). No interviews or commercial leads by ABC celebrities promoting their crappy shows. And no crowd shots of people cheering the action.
I got goose-bumps literally seconds into the broadcast when they broke out the old school NBA on NBC theme song. And with Mike Breen and Doug Collins calling the game you knew it was something special.
Anyway, here are a few other thoughts on the game:
The NBC Olympic Basketball Channel is the greatest thing in the Olympics: Hoops junkies will love the wall-to-wall basketball coverage on the Basketball Channel. I was able to see the USA game live and without any BS feature pieces. You can watch all the games there with no commercial or in-studio interruptions. I've already watched Argentina lose to Lithuania and Dirk Nowitzki dominate against Angola. It's on Channel 754 on DirecTV in HD.
Three Point Shooting Woes: China's not a medal contender and USA still couldn't hit from beyond the arc. What happens when USA plays quality teams like Argentina and Spain? Will opponents start packing the lanes, closing down penetration and daring the USA to shoot from distance? It's painful seeing Kobe, LeBron and Melo (they shot a combined 2-12) brick shot after shot. This could be a problem later in the tournament.
China with the best possible start: Seconds into the game, Yao Ming, China's flag bearer in the opening ceremony and most popular athlete, hits a three from the top of the key to open the scoring. That might have been the best moment in the history of basketball in China. China's marquee athlete, opening against arguably the best team in the world, at home with both the Chinese and American leaders in the house... it was a cool moment.
Yao after opening with a three to give China a 3-0 lead.
LeBron and Wade... taking back their future: Last season was about turning-the-clock back with the Lakers and Celtics in the Finals. But the two best players this summer have clearly been LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. They both took turns slicing down the lanes for sick dunks and they both were very effective on the defensive end (especially LeBron with several highlight blocks, including a sick two-handed swipe). Maybe this will be a preview of next season as they both remind us they're still the future of the NBA.
Lebron James (A) - Dominating offensively. China couldn't handle his size and speed on penetrations.
Kobe Bryant (C) - Shot a miserable 1-7 from beyond the arc, but his defense created many turnovers.
Carmelo Anthony (D) - Absolute no-show on offense. Started to get frustrated with the refs.
Dwight Howard (B) - Did a fine job inside. Message to Dwight: God wants you to practice FT's.
Jason Kidd (B) - Controlled the frenetic pace of the game and seemed to always make the right pass.
Dwyane Wade (A) - Equally as dominant as LeBron on offense. He's back to his 2006 form.
Chris Bosh (B) - Held his own against Yao Ming on the inside and had a few nice putbacks.
Chris Paul (B) - Led the team with a very quiet 6 assists. Could the NBA rules (allowing moving screens) be stifling his game in the Olympics? All I know is that he no longer is getting the wide open looks at the freethrow line like he did in the playoffs.
Deron Williams (B) - Both he and CP3 played very well together.
Michael Redd (B+) - Shot 3-7 from three point range to lead the team from beyond the arc. It's kinda scary that USA has only one legitimate outside shooter.
Carlos Boozer (C-) - I don't think he's the right type of player for the international game. He doesn't have the athletic range or consistent jumper to hang with the likes of Argentina or Spain.
Tayshaun Prince (B) - I'll give him a B because of his potential but he really didn't play much.