September 06, 2010

FINAL: U.S. 121, Angola 66In its most dominant performance of the tournament thus far, Team USA obliterated an overmatched Angola squad for a 55-point victory.

Chauncey Billups led the way with 19 points while Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay and Eric Gordon each added 17 in the first round of elimination play.

The U.S. unleashed an arsenal of three-pointers to shoot down Angola -- hitting 18-of-38 attempts (47.4 percent). Billups and Gordon hit five three-pointers apiece, while seven different U.S. players connected on triples and all 12 players scored.

It was clear from the start that the U.S.' first do-or-die game wouldn't be that competitive. Not only was Angola without its best player in Olimpio Cipriano, but the team doesn't possess a player taller than 6-foot-8, making them undersized and undermanned.

Team USA outscored Angola 33-13 in the first period and held a 27-point lead at the half. After stretching the advantage to 35 in the third quarter, the U.S' second unit really blew things up in the final period, wearing down an exhausted Angola team and making it a 55-point difference at the end.

Most impressive of all, the U.S. scored 41 baskets on 28 assists and turned the ball over just five times all game.

Coach K's team will now get some rest before facing the winner of the Russia/New Zealand game on Thursday (11 a.m. ET) in the quarterfinals.

Fourth quarter, 1:17: Eric Gordon with another three-pointer, his fifth of the game. Nothing like garbage time to pad the stats.

The U.S. has now hit 18 threes.

Tyson Chandler might as well be 15-feet tall. Angola has no one over 6-foot-8 and the 7-1 Chandler is dominating the glass on both ends. U.S. 119, Angola 66

Fourth quarter, 2:47: After showing some lapses in the second quarter, the U.S. has really locked down on defense in the second half. They are contesting every shot, pass and dribble and are really staying in front of their man.

Granger gets one to go, knocking down a floater in the lane. U.S. 115, Angola 66

Fourth quarter, 3:48: Granger's struggles continue, missing a wide-open three, but the U.S. keeps the possession alive and throws a lob pass to Chandler for the dunk.

Team USA is starting to slow the pace down, but hasn't stopped firing from deep. Curry hits another three. U.S. 113, Angola 66

Fourth quarter, 5:19: Gay doing his best LeBron impression on the breakaway, cocking the ball back behind his head before throwing it down. U.S. 108, Angola 65

Fourth quarter, 5:54: Eric Gordon scoring in bunches -- another three from the corner and is now 4-of-4 on the day from beyond the arc and a perfect 5-of-5 from the field.

Westbrook throws a pass to Odom -- which unfortunately is a turnover since the Lakers star was sitting on the bench. But when you're holding a 43-point lead, those kind of mistakes are excusable, right Coach K? U.S. 106, Angola 63

Fourth quarter, 6:51: Westbrook with a two-handed slam to put the U.S. over the 100-point mark. Team USA's previous high was 106 points versus Croatia, which they should easily pass today. U.S. 103, Angola 61

Fourth quarter, 7:34: Rudy Gay lets out some frustration with a tomahawk dunk in traffic. Coach K has Love-Gay-Westbrook-Gordon-Curry on the floor right now.

Gordon hits his third three of the game as the U.S. continues to be lethal from downtown. U.S. 99, Angola 61

Fourth quarter, 9:35: The U.S. opens the quarter by committing just its third turnover of the game. Not too shabby for a team running on every possession.

Gay hits two free throws after Love snagged a steal on the other end and threw a beautiful outlet pass. U.S. 93, Angola 56

Third quarter, U.S. 91, Angola 56 All 12 of Team USA's players have scored after Stephen Curry hits a baseline jumper for two points.

The U.S. put together another impressive quarter, outscoring Angola 26-18 and taking a 35-point lead heading into the final period. The Stars and Stripes are really putting on a shooting clinic in their first elimination game, hitting 14-of-26 three-pointers through three quarters.

Third quarter, 1:46: Quick shot of the U.S. bench shows a down-on-his-luck Danny Granger. He's failed to find his niche on this team and has for the most part been a rotation casualty. He could see some PT in the fourth quarter here if Coach K decides to give big minutes to his bench.

Gordon -- who had 21 points last time out -- hits another three and is starting to get it going. U.S. 89, Angola 52

Third quarter, 2:26: Iguodala with a strong dunk in traffic off the feed from Durant.

Gomes with another bucket to give him 20 of Angola's 51 points.

Gordon hits a three from the corner to make it a 35-point game. U.S. 86, Angola 51

Third quarter, 4:07: Angola's Joaquim Gomes continues a strong game. He knocks down a triple to give him 18 points (8-of-10 shooting) on the day.

Odom hits a three of his own after Angola dares him to put it up. U.S. 81, Angola 49

Third quarter, 5:49: Odom has been quiet, but he's getting it done on the glass. Seven rebounds so far and he gets to the line and knocks down a pair. U.S. 78, Angola 44

Third quarter, 7:03: Rose wisely passes up another three and makes the extra pass to Billups who (of course) drills it from distance. Angola isn't giving up anything under the rim so far in the second half, but unfortunately for them the U.S. isn't missing anything from beyond the arc. Pick your poison. U.S. 74, Angola 40

Third quarter, 8:56: Rose keeps it going and pumps in another three. The U.S. can do no wrong from downtown today. U.S. 71, Angola 38

Third quarter, 9:34: As they did in the first half, Team USA starts the second half with a three. Billups passes to Rose who knocks down the open jumper. U.S. 68, Angola 38

Third quarter, 10:00: Second half action about to begin. Eleven of the U.S.'s 12 players scored in the first half, with Stephen Curry the only one going scoreless. U.S. 65, Angola 38

HALFTIME -- U.S. 65, Angola 38Following a time out, Durant hits a three from the top of the key on a set play to close out the half in style.

Team USA takes a 27-point advantage headed into the locker room, but can't help but be frustrated after Angola's offense found its rhythm in the second quarter.

The U.S. outscored Angola 33-13 in the first quarter, but Angola responded in the second period with 25 points after the U.S.'s defense lost some of its energy and failed to close out on several jumpers.

Durant leads the way for the U.S. with 17 points and five rebounds and Billups has chipped in 16. The U.S. shot 58 percent from the field in the first half and racked up an impressive 16 assists on 22 baskets.

With the outcome no longer in question, the U.S. will likely rest its starters a majority of the second half. But if the defense begins to collapse again -- as it did in the second quarter -- Coach K will bring his starters back in. I don't think the Duke coach has a stomach for bad defense.

Second quarter, 40.8 seconds: Angola goes on a little 7-0 run as the U.S.'s defense begins to crumble a bit.

Rose breaks Angola's zone defense with a three from the corner.

Chandler picks up another foul, he now has three. U.S. 60, Angola 36

Second quarter, 1:50: Tyson Chandler hits two free throws to get in on the scoring.

Fortes makes another bucket. I'm sure all of Angola is wondering where that was through their country's first five games. Okay, maybe not.

U.S. forces a shot clock violation, a welcome sight for Coach K. U.S. 57, Angola 32

Second quarter, 3:16: Danny Granger gets on the board, converting a free throw.

Billups (this is not a repeat) hits another three, he has 14 points.

But Angola is knocking down some tough shots of their own on the other end, keeping this from being a complete and utter blowout. Roberto Fortes -- who apparently was 0-14 in the tournament coming into today's game -- is 3-of-3 from three-point range. U.S. 55, Angola 28

Second quarter, 4:17: Angola must owe Mr. Big Shot money. Billups knocks down his third three of the game. U.S. 51, Angola 25

Second quarter, 5:20: Coach K has really gotten his team to buy in defensively. The U.S. players are closing out on every pass and contesting every shot.

Westbrook with an incredible missed dunk. This guy might be the most athletic player in the NBA, which is a title worth bragging about.

Eric Gordon follows the miss with a dunk of his own. U.S. 46, Angola 23

Second quarter, 7:25: Gay with an impossible fadeaway -- but gets the bounce and knocks it down as the U.S. can do no wrong.

Gomes with another bucket for Angola. He's played well against the U.S. big men and has 11 of his team's 18 points. U.S. 44, Angola 18

Second quarter, 8:38: Kevin Love knocks down a three from the corner then gets to the line on the next possession. He's been a pleasure to watch all tourney and has quickly developed into a Coach K favorite. He already has eight points. U.S. 40, Angola 16

Second quarter, 9:30: To start the second quarter, the U.S. goes with Love-Gay-Westbrook-Curry-Gordon.

Gay wastes no time with a steal and a basket. U.S.'s second unit stepping up on defense. U.S. 35, Angola 13

First quarter -- U.S. 33, Angola 13 Boy, that really escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast. I think I saw Russell Westbrook throw a trident.

Simply put, Angola is overmatched. It doesn't help that the U.S. is rested and running all over the floor.

Iguodala misses a three as the clock winds down, but Westbrook pulls down a huge rebound in traffic and is fouled on the put-back. He makes both free throws to put Team USA up by 20 as the first period comes to a close.

First quarter, 2:19: Apparently, Angola likes to play fast. Unfortunately for them, that is suicide against Team USA. The U.S. is faster, bigger and more talented -- making an up-and-down game fatal for Angola.

Several U.S. baskets since my last post (which was 59 seconds ago), including a Kevin Love three-point play on a bucket and a foul. U.S. 29, Angola 9

First quarter, 3:18: Billups (eight points) with the hot hand, hitting his second three-pointer already.

Iguodala with a nice play, tipping Angola's shot off the rim, a savvy FIBA move.

Durant drills another three from the top of the key as the U.S.'s lead grows to 15. U.S. 21, Angola 7

First quarter, 4:36: Durant is only the fifth-leading scorer in the Turkey tourney at 17.8 points per game, but I think everyone would agree he's the most prolific offensive player playing this summer. Durant takes several Angola players off the dribble before a pretty finish at the rim. He has seven. U.S. 16, Angola 7 for two

First quarter, 5:51: The U.S. is running early and often and looking really sharp. It could be the fact that Angola isn't playing defense, but nevertheless the U.S. offense looks good. Angola is hanging in there with some tough buckets. U.S. 12, Angola 7

First quarter, 7:30: Billups hits two free throws. He has five points already.

Odom blocks a shot on the other end and gets the ball up court quickly to Durant, who scores and draws the foul. He hits the free throw to finish the three-point play. U.S. 10, Angola 4

First quarter, 8:02: Lutonda knocks down to free throws to get Angola on the board.

After a miss by Rose, Gomes scores under the hoop to make it a one-point game. U.S. 5, Angola 4

First quarter, 9:01: And we are underway, the U.S. wins the tip. Tons of empty seats courtside, what else is going on in Istanbul today?

Billups wastes no time and drills a three from the top of the key to start the game. Angola promptly responds with an airball, which leads to a Durant dunk on a breakaway. U.S. 5, Angola 0

First quarter, 10:00: For the first time all tournament, the U.S. holds a size advantage over its opponent -- Angola's tallest player is just 6-foot-8.

Team USA is 4-0 all-time against Angola, with the latest victory coming in the 2008 Olympics by 21 points. The Dream Team famously beat Angola by 68 points in 1992, including a 46-1 run.

The U.S. is going with the same starting line-up it has used all tournament -- Odom, Durant, Iguodala, Billups and Rose. Angola starts Carlos Almeida, Miguel Lutonda, Carlos Morais, Joaquim Gomes and Eduardo Mingas.

Olimpio Cipriano is the team's leading scorer at 14.8 points per game, but will not start today due to an injury suffered last game.


Win or go home.

Those are Team USA's only options. Today, the U.S. takes on Angola (tip-off at 11 a.m. ET) in the first round of elimination play at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.

After going 5-0 in pool play with relative ease, the U.S. advanced to the Round of 16 as the winner of Group B. Angola (2-3) finished fourth in Group B, notching victories over Jordan and Germany, but losing handedly to Serbia (50 points), Argentina (21) and Australia (21).

Although today's game is do-or-die, the U.S. is expected to cruise to a win, just as it did in four of its five pool games, with the exception of a tight contest against Brazil. The U.S. won its final pool play matchup by 35 points over Tunisia on Thursday.

Mike Krzyzewski is unlikely to mess with success and will probably trot out the same starting lineup of Lamar Odom, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Chauncey Billups and Derrick Rose. Eric Gordon led the U.S. with 21 points off the bench on Thursday, but is better utilized as a supersub.

After a few days of rest and relaxing (and a visit from Spike Lee!), the U.S. should come out strong in the first quarter. As we've seen throughout the tournament in Turkey, Coach K will utilize his bench extensively once the lead is in hand.

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