Team USA was struggling with a pesky and determined Chinese National Team in the opening round of the Men’s Olympic pool play before LeBron James took over. With Team USA battling nerves, poor outside shooting and problems with China’s three point shooting, James fueled a 16-3 run in the second quarter, and simply put, he was the best player on the court and for one day maybe the best player on the planet. James did it all–18 points, six rebounds, three spectacular blocks and great defense in the 101-70 win.
The United States finally wore down China in the second quarter with an aggressive full court defense and turned its 12 point lead into a blowout by late in the third quarter.
Give China credit, they played their butts off and really gave Team USA fits in what was the biggest game in its nation’s history. I was impressed with their heart, skill and determination.
As for Team USA, they need better shooting both from the free throw line and the three point tripe. Defensively, the U.S .played hard, but they have to be careful and avoid leaving people open outside the three point line. All these teams can shoot; witness China’s 8 of16 performance in the first half. Furthermore, these international squads have excellent ball movement that can spread out a defense and negate the obvious team speed advantage the U.S. has.
Spain, Greece and Germany (all in the same group as the U.S.) are better shooters than the Chinese squad, and this road to redemption will not be a cake walk. To bring home the gold, Team USA will have to continue to play great perimeter defense, move the ball on offense, and get contributions from all 12 members of the squad.
It won’t be easy, but today they took a giant first step, playing in the den of dragon with 1.3 billon people watching.