After a forgettable first half Thursday, Team USA pulled away in the second to rout Tunisia 92-57, completing a 5-0 run through Group B at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey. With pool play complete, the United States will face Angola on Monday in the round of 16. Here's what we can glean from the Americans' latest victory:
Eric Gordon continues to prove his worthThere may not be a better standstill jump shooter in Turkey than Gordon, who capitalized on numerous open looks to score a game-high 21 points. Gordon was also surprisingly effective defensively. He hounded Tunisia's inexperienced guards -- the country has only a semi-professional league and very few of its players play abroad -- picking up three steals and forcing them to work to initiate the offense. When paired with Russell Westbrook (14 points) and Stephen Curry (13), Gordon has helped make the U.S.' second unit a more formidable offensive group than the starters.
Bad day for bigsLamar Odom (zero points and two rebounds in 15 minutes), Kevin Love (four points, five rebounds) and Tyson Chandler (four points, five rebounds) won't be adding this game to their DVD collection. The frontcourt couldn't keep lanky Tunisian center Salah Mejri (eight rebounds) off the offensive glass and the U.S. was outrebounded 46-39, including a 25-11 deficit in offensive rebounds. Tunisia made up for a lack of talent with a disciplined offensive system, but there is no excuse for Team USA's getting outrebounded by such an inferior opponent.
A tale of two halvesExpect U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski to play a lot of footage of Thursday's first half for his team before the opening game of the knockout round on Monday. It was undoubtedly the U.S.' worst half of the tournament. The defense was sloppy, the offense was impatient and the United States allowed Tunisia -- the worst team in the tournament, with an 0-5 record -- to close within two points late in the second quarter. The Americans got away with the lackluster play in this one, but against one of the many global powers waiting for them next week, they might not be so lucky.
What is Danny Granger doing in Turkey?Krzyzewski and Jerry Colangelo didn't whiff on many roster spots when picking this team, but Granger sure looks like a mistake. After scoring nine points against Croatia, Granger went scoreless against Slovenia and picked up a DNP-CD against Brazil. Granger scored 10 points in a blowout of Iran but could muster only five points (on 2-for-8 shooting) against Tunisia. Granger is a prolific scorer, but if Krzyzewski doesn't have the confidence to use him consistently, his roster spot should have gone to a big man like JaVale McGee, who would have helped the U.S.' deficiencies on the glass.