September 09, 2010

FINAL SCORE: U.S. 89, Russia 79

Kevin Durant scored 33 points as the U.S. pulled away from Russia to advance to the semifinals of the FIBA World Championship. The Americans will play Lithuania on Saturday (12 p.m. ET).

The U.S didn't shoot exceptionally well (42.6 percent) and the offense was at times one-dimensional (Durant), but it pushed the ball in transition and didn't get frustrated with Russia's physical tactics. Perhaps more important, the U.S. did an excellent job correcting its mistakes on the fly: After getting beat on the boards early in the game (which led to a five-point deficit in the second quarter), the Americans kept Russia off the offensive glass in the second half. In addition, the U.S. pressured Russian shooters at the three-point line, holding them to 3-for-16 from beyond the arc after the first quarter.

Chauncey Billups made four three-pointers and had 15 points. Russell Westbrook sparked the U.S.' dominant third quarter and finished with 12 points and three steals. Lamar Odom held up well against Russia's big front line, getting a team-high 12 rebounds.

Guard Sergei Bykov led Russia with 17 points. Timofey Mozgov, a 7-footer who signed with the Knicks this summer, added 13 points.

Fourth quarter, 1:52: Durant records his 30th point on a short jumper. Brilliant game by Durant. Another jumper by Durant goes down and he draws a foul on the play. Make that 33 points for the NBA scoring champ. U.S. 89, Russia 74

Fourth quarter, 3:10: Russia's David Blatt, a Princeton alum, has coached his team well on the intricacies of the backdoor-cutting offense. Two quick Russian baskets off cuts prompts another timeout from the U.S. U.S. 84, Russia 72

Fourth quarter, 4:16: Russia has committed 18 turnovers, a big factor in its inability to stay within striking distance. The U.S. has committed only two turnovers in the half. Another turnover by Russia leads to a Billups three. U.S. 84, Russia 68

Fourth quarter, 6:03: U.S. players getting frustrated by the quick whistles. Foul on Eric Gordon pushes the team over the limit, meaning Russia will be shooting free throws the rest of the way. Offensive foul on Billups draws a timeout from Coach K. U.S. 81, Russia 66

Fourth quarter, 6:30: Durant banks in an impossible layup. This may be his best game of the tournament. Ten Russian eyes are on him every time he touches the ball. U.S. 81, Russia 65

Fourth quarter, 7:50: Desperation time for Russia, which puts Mozgov back in the game with four fouls. Westbrook attacks again, converting a layup and getting fouled at the rim. Gordon counters a Russian three and Durant follows with one of his own as the U.S. continues to pad its lead. Durant, who has played nearly the entire game, is up to 26 points. U.S. 79, Russia 61


The U.S.' relentless pressure defense and up-tempo offense have worn down the Russians. The aggressive Westbrook, who was quiet in the first half, had seven points and three steals in the quarter. After a hot start, Russia is now shooting under 40 percent from the floor and under 30 percent from three.

Third quarter, 1:41: Westbrook knocks down a three and follows with a steal and a dunk. All USA now. Tough stretch for Russia. It can't get too far behind because it doesn't have the guns to mount a major comeback. Odom (six rebounds) is really battling Russia's big men. U.S. 65, Russia 50

Third quarter, 4:21: USA's pressure defense is starting to have an effect. Mozgov is robbed of what appeared to be a clean block by getting called for his fourth foul. Crippling blow for Russia. Swarming defense by U.S. forces a 24-second violation. Finger-roll layup by Billups on the other end extends the lead to nine and a Westbrook fast-break dunk off a turnover pushes the U.S. lead double figures for the first time. The U.S. is in the midst of a 28-12 run. U.S. 58, Russia 47

Third quarter, 5:46: As well as Durant is playing, he seems to be settling for the quick shot. A three by Sergey Monya pulls Russia within five again. Billups responds again with a three, his second of the half. Mr. Big Shot coming through for the U.S. now. U.S. 53, Russia 47

Third quarter, 8:15: Durant opens the second half with a nifty driving layup. Durant really playing well. Russians responds with a three, a good sign for them coming out of the locker room. Billups responds with a deep three. More movement for the U.S. to open the third quarter. U.S. 49, Russia 42


The U.S. closes the first half with a 14-4 run. The Russians made only 6-of-21 from the field in the second quarter (including 0-of-7 from three-point range) as the U.S. turned a five-point deficit into a five-point lead.

Durant (19 points) is playing aggressively while Andre Iguodala (six points) overcame early foul trouble to be a factor. Most important, the U.S. has converted 14-of-18 free-throw attempts, a strong counter to Russia's strategy of slowing down the Americans' fast break. (The Russians are 1-of-3 at the line.) The U.S. will have to do a better job keeping Russia off the offensive glass in the second half. Corralling those long rebounds off errant jump shots should lead to more fast-break opportunities.

Second quarter, 1:08: Russia unraveling a little late in the quarter. Fouls starting to pile up. Two free throws by Iguodala pushes the U.S. lead to five. Another missed three makes Russia 0-for-4 from beyond the arc in the quarter. Iguodala converts a tough shot in the lane (off Gordon's second assist of the tournament) and draws the foul. He misses the free throw, but the U.S. is 14-of-18 from the stripe in the half. U.S. 42, Russia 35

Second quarter, 2:24: Bad 24-second call by the referee stops a U.S. fast break. A Derrick Rose free throw puts the U.S. back on top for the first time this quarter. Feisty play by the US defensively keeps Russia off the glass. Tough shot by Durant extends the lead. Durant has 17 points. U.S. 38, Russia 35

Second quarter, 3:42: Good play drawn out of the timeout leads to a layup for Rose. Gordon checks back in for Westbrook, who has looked a little out of control. Gordon immediately hits a three to tie it up. U.S. 35, Russia 35

Second quarter, 4:48: Coach K calls a timeout after yet another inside basket from Russia, this time from Sergei Bykov, who has 10 points. U.S. has missed six of its first seven shots in the quarter. Russia, 35, U.S. 30

Second quarter, 6:21: Russia simply will not allow the U.S. to run, preferring to send the Americans to the line rather than risk a momentum-changing dunk. Iguodala back in the game. His speed and defense have been big for the U.S. in this tournament. Russia executing its offense flawlessly. If this continues, this will be a tough one throughout for the U.S. The Russians aren't just hot from the outside; they are getting quality shots through their offense. Iguodala's follow dunk draws a quick timeout from Russia's Blatt. Russia 31, U.S. 30

Second quarter, 7:35: Quick missed three by Gordon opens the second quarter. Russia is mixing and matching its defense, beginning this quarter with a packed-in man-to-man. An easy layup by Russia brings Billups and Rose off the bench -- short stints for Gordon and Stephen Curry. Rudy Gay misses a short jumper. Odom travels. USA looking a little unsettled. Russia continuing to assault the paint and scoring over the smallish U.S. front line. Russia 29, U.S. 25


The Russians have to be happy: They shot 57 percent from three-point range (48 percent overall) and outrebounded the U.S. 9-7, including a 5-2 edge on the offensive glass. Durant (13 points) is playing like his usual self but the U.S. has had few fast-break opportunities. The Americans need to push the tempo

First quarter, 1:13: Russia's size is absolutely making the U.S. alter its shots in the paint. The U.S. has brought in Tyson Chandler hoping he can control the paint. Another Durant three-point play ties the game again. U.S. 23, Russia 23

First quarter, 2:09: USA struggling mightily to defend the three-point line and Russia is cashing in. USA making shots but it is running a lot of isolation right now. The Russians are rebounding well offensively. A second-chance possession leads to a dunk and a foul for Mozgov, pushing Russia back in front. Mozgov has come off the bench to make his first three shots. Russia 21, U.S. 20

First quarter, 5:35: Billups' three-pointer caps a 7-0 run for the Americans. U.S. 15, Russia 9

First quarter, 6:20: Mozgov in the game. The Knicks' signee is Russia's leading scorer and an interesting prospect. Russia scrapping offensively and hitting the open jumper. Another three gives Russia the lead back. Russia 9, U.S. 8

First quarter, 7:14: Russia knocks down a three to tie the game but the U.S. counters with a Durant bucket and foul. Free throw off line. Iguodala picks up his second foul on the other end, bringing Russel Westbrook into the game and putting a three-guard lineup on the floor. U.S. 8, Russia 6

First quarter, 8:15: An Odom three-point play followed by a Durant three-pointer get the U.S. going. U.S. 6, Russia 3.

First quarter, 9:30: Russia wins tip, knocks down an early three. U.S. responds with a quick turnover on the other end. Americans lining up in the 2-3 zone to try to counter the Russians size advantage in the paint. Works on second possession as Russia gets called for a 24-second violation. Russia 3, U.S. 0

First quarter, 10:00: No changes in the U.S. starting lineup: Billups, Rose, Iguodala, Durant and Odom. Mozgov, Russia's leading scorer, will come off the bench.


Team USA meets Russia today (11 a.m. ET tip-off) in the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Championship in Turkey. The winner will advance to face either Argentina or Lithuania in the semifinals Saturday.

The Americans are coming off a 121-66 victory against Angola in the Round of 16, their fifth blowout in six games. Only Brazil has tested the Americans, who have overcome their lack of size so far.

Russia, however, is the biggest team that the United States has faced in the tournament. The Russians are led by 7-foot center Timofey Mozgov of the Knicks, and 6-11 Sasha Kaun, a 2008 second-round pick from Kansas who plays for CSKA Moscow.

The Russians are 5-1 in the tournament, having lost to host Turkey in group play. They beat New Zealand 78-56 to earn this matchup with the United States -- which comes 38 years to the day that the Soviet Union beat the Americans in the controversial gold-medal game at the 1972 Olympics.

You May Like