It wasn't always pretty but the U.S. picked up it's second straight 20-plus point win in the FIBA World Championship, stomping Slovenia 99-77 (RECAP) in Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday.
See Kevin Durant score. Durant led the U.S. in scoring for the second consecutive night, submitting an impressive 22-point (on 8-13 shooting), four rebound, four assist and four steal effort in a paltry 23 minutes of play. The Thunder forward looks exceedingly comfortable in the international game. He found huge cracks in the Slovenian defense and when it collapsed on him, he made smart decisions. Future opponents will undoubtedly watch film of Durant against Croatia and Slovenia and make adjustments but there may not be much they can do to slow Durant down.
See Kevin Love rebound. Love recorded the U.S.' first double-double with an 11-point, 10-rebound performance. USA Director Jerry Colangelo brought Love to Turkey to do the dirty work and the 6-foot-9 Love has delivered, banging bodies in the paint and cleaning up mistakes (five offensive rebounds) around the rim. With Lamar Odom (nine rebounds) chipping in the U.S. demolished Slovenia 51-24 on the glass, an encouraging effort for a team with major rebounding concerns coming into the tournament.
A star is born. A Derrick Rose-shaped star. Watching international opponents chase Rose in the open floor is like watching a Volvo try to keep pace with a Ferrari. With the U.S. defending the three-point line well (Slovenia connected on 20.8 percent of their threes) Rose was a monster in transition, scoring seven points and dishing out five assists, several of which went towards the U.S.' 20 fast break points. In the halfcourt Rose and Russell Westbrook assaulted the rim almost at will; their speed and power with the ball completely overwhelmed Slovenia's guards and their strength enabled them to overpower the big men at the rim.
The defense needs work. Holding an opponent to 37.5 percent shooting sounds good, but against Slovenia it only told half the story. A slap-happy U.S. team sent Slovenia to the free throw line 33 times was repeatedly beaten on simple back screens and backdoor plays. Team USA's athleticism masked a few mistakes but they will need to sharpen their D before Monday's game against Brazil, an experienced international power with the talent to overwhelm the U.S. on the inside (Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao) and make them pay for any mistakes in transition.
Subpar showing for Goran Dragic. The Suns guard became a (semi) household name after a series of electrifying performances during the 2010 playoffs but submitted a seven-point (on 2-of-8 shooting), three-turnover dud against the Americans on Sunday. Former Nets and Rockets forward Bostjan Nachbar turned a few heads with a 13 point (on 5-of-11 shooting) effort that included an acrobatic transition layup in the fourth quarter. Nachbar, 30, inked one of the richest deals in European basketball history when he signed with Dynamo Moscow in 2008. He spent last season with Turkish League club Efes Pilson. A career 38 percent three-point shooter in the NBA, Nachbar could easily resurface on the NBA radar next summer.
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