Dwyane Wade is back. For everyone who saw the game tonight you know what Im talkin about. For those who didnt, the highlights of the game will be on youtube soon enough.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZOECDJj2SU here it is.
There was one sequence early in the 4th, where Wade played great D out front of the 3 point line for 4-6 seconds and the rest of the team was denying well, Canada ran a pick n roll and Wade stuck that 6'10 arm out and snatched the ball right outta the dudes arm, he was fouled to prevent a break away but you could just tell that 'it' factor was there tonight. He had the semi windmill jam and I've never seen that from him before. Ever. I hope for his sake, Eboys, Star Jones and the rest of the Miami Heat that he remains healthy. He was smart too, not risking plays that were gambles and playing solid defense. His handle seemed much improved too ( thanks Eboy your right on that).
The US barely performed any isolation plays and that was good to see as individual ball wont get you gold as we've seen before.
Wade started alongside Kidd and Bryant ( as LeBron sat with his ankle sprain) making a 3 guard line up with Kobe at 3 alongside Anthony at 4 and Howard playing 5.
For me, the highlight of the game was Williams at the end of the 3rd quarter when he stole the ball got the pass from Paul on the half way crossed over in the open court with a sweet behind the back crossover, had an 'in n out' move with a stutter step pullled an around the world ball move and hung in the air for a geat lay up to get the crowd amped, then Paul followed seconds later to close the quarter which was arguably even better. Canada drove down the lane then Williams swung to the middle and blocked hard back the other way. On the ensuing posession Paul started his drive with 10 seconds left on the clock splitting the double team and making Kendall look stupid as he broke it up with a behind the back split then a ball fake which turned the head of his would-be help defender and throwing in a floater just for good measure. Pure class. Anyways, apart from the 1st quarter which was close it was pretty much an extended run of around 90 to 40 in favour of the U.S
Boozer didnt do much stat wise in 4,4 and a block and a steal but he did a great job on the extended zone help the US played and Bosh was a monster with dunks, blocks and intelligent play overall.
Mike Redd was amazing with his shooting tonight and was even good on defense, which surprised me.
Carmelo got the hustle points offensively and that was important esp. in the 2nd quarter to help build the lead. His game is more dynamic in the International game and it really showed. Equal leading scorer with 20 with Wade and Redd. He played active defense for the majority of the game which was nice to see, and he was consistent despite his minutes being slightly pear-shaped in the second half.
Kidd started most quarters but didnt register anything positive in boxscore but his contributions went beyond that. He had NBA assists but in the FIBA competitions passing to a guy on the fast break and having him dribble twice and throw down isnt an assist, once a player shot fakes or dribbles more than once- thats it. Bad luck there Kidd. Still, youre 39-0. You can see why European statistics are deflated in comparison to those in the NBA ( this has nothing to do with skill but statwise it helps to build the legacy of a star in the NBA).
The US can work on its initial defensive retreat somewhat as several times Bosh and Howard had baseball passes thrown over their heads for easy Canadian baskets. Something inexcuseable in High School games, much less ones while playing for your country especially on made baskets. They didnt zone much defensively either and it worked fine as they had 24 turnovers for 43 points throughout the game. However, I feel that if they can diversify their game it gives different looks and will help to play zone for short spurts to mix it up.
For Canada, Jermaine Anderson was the shining light with 18 points on 6-9 shooting and only 1 turnover despite the constant attention from the US as they pressed and stifled the Canadian team all night.
I wonder whether the scoreline would have been different with Dalembert in the line up considering the weakness of the US front line in depth and height compared to previous incarnations. Dave Thomas was also sorely missed for the Men of the North, his veteran play and strength to play 1,2 and 3 obviously lacking.
The fouls will always be an issue for the American NBA players as they only have 5 and International rules regarding handchecks, agressiveness in the key and offensive fouls are called differently.
Overall, I felt that the US performance was what was expected and the bigs played admirably despite their statistical ( or lack thereof) contributions. Paul and Williams were great and did their jobs to a par although sometimes they turned it over in transition which will be another thing worth perfecting in the next 2 weeks. Coach K called it ' the 5th day of practice'. Dont get cocky now Coach, you and yours have been burned before. 4.3 out of 5 overall.
PS, Rick Kamla was awful at times with his commentary tonight, his voice can be really annoying when he gets too excited while when he's controlled he is better than anyone else ESPN can offer even if it was 'special coverage' bar Van Gundy and Kerr. ( Is that the whole coverage team I listed?)
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