Rio de Janeiro, BR.In a battle of the top two teams in Group A, the USA men’s basketball team defeated France 100-97 Sunday afternoon, closing out group play with five wins in as many starts. At the World Cup of Basketball two years ago, the USA went 9-0, winning by no fewer than 21 points and by an average of 33. With the global game that the National Basketball Association has become, it’s not uncommon to see top tier worldwide talent playing for both the National Basketball Association and representing their home country teams in FIBA and Olympic competition.
This is a bumpy road in Rio, but at least the Americans know Klay Thompson is finally along for the ride.
Draymond Green: 0 points (0-of-1), one assist.
Irving finished with 12 assists and no turnovers.
France cut the US lead to just four points in the fourth quarter after a drive by Joffrey Lauvergne but not long after, a steal by Carmelo Anthony triggered a fast break and led to one of the best plays of the Olympics.
Thompson was shooting a hard-to-believe 15 percent (4-for-26) from the floor and 18 percent (3-for-18) on 3s through four games before this much-needed bust-out.
(USA) DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings powers past (France) Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
Team USA hasn’t lost an Olympic game since that fateful meeting, which showed that a once seemingly invincible squad was in fact mortal.
More than a tinge of angst surrounds the US, but the rest of the field still considers the Americans the favorite to win gold.
France played like a team that wasn’t scared. Kevin Durant also found a groove, shooting a ideal 6-of-6 from the field, and Kyrie Irving dealt 12 of USA’s 32 assists on 35 total makes.
While the United States has made headlines in Rio with several gold medal victories by names like Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, and Katie Ledecky, the middle of the week cast doubt on the expectations of the Men’s Basketball team.
United States of America managed to hold on to the lead to beat France by three points. “This is very open, that tournament is pretty open”, Batum said. He makes all three free throws to cut the lead down to eight 67-59. Klay Thompson scored six of those points for his fourth and fifth three pointers of the period. And for any other team, wins over Australia, Serbia and France are three great wins, no matter the score.
“It’s Game 7s from now on”, star forward Kevin Durant said.
France’s Kim Tillie starts the final period scoring consecutive baskets for France to trim the lead back to single digits 81-73.
Other teams are likely to exploit that in the knock-out phases starting Wednesday. There was clearly chemistry between Team USA’s second unit, as the ball moved frequently for the first time in almost two games. Fewer than three minutes into the fourth quarter, France’s 10-2 run made it a four-point game. George felt the team was relying too much on their talent to beat teams, and there was no adjustment in that front to suggest they learned from the previous two games. Maybe they’re so talented on offense that it’s sustainable through the medal round, but you’d have to think a group this good will realize they need to find another gear, and then find it. Defensive lapses, poor communication and faulty ball movement have been taken advantage of by opponents for the last three games. Lazy defense and inconsistent offense has left fans bored and frustrated as this group of All-Stars can’t seem to find their groove and dominate in the way we expect of U.S. basketball. “But that’s not going to win us gold. We’ve got to figure out how we can be better”.
From there US will play the victor of Spain and France and should they win that game as well, will then advance to the Gold Medal game against one of Australia/Croatia/Serbia/Lithuania. Or will the struggles of this Olympics be forgotten in the wake of a third straight gold medal? Venezuela missed 39 of their 60 shots to finish the game at 35 percent from the field.