Yesterday, Team USA struggled against Lithuania in the first period, as they were in a 15-7 deficit. However, they bounced back after that and won the game, 77-61. Overall, it was a bad shooting night, but many though they would rebound in a game against Spain the next day. Both teams were in a close battle, and with a few seconds left in the game, USA was barely clinging on as they were up 86-85.
But Kevin Durant saved USA’s hopes of winning this game and stay on top to get ready for the FIBA World Championships that goes in Turkey from August 28th to September 12th. Durant, otherwise known by his nickname “The Durantula,” blocked a three-point shot by Rudy Fernandez to give USA a victory.
Before the play, Syracuse Orange coach Jim Boehim called for his trademark “Orange” 2-3 zone. From there, Durant blocked two shots: one on Ricky Rubio and the other on Fernandez. After that, it was history. USA won the warm-up game and look all-set and ready for the FIBA World Championships. Not entirely, but there are still some improvements that can be done quickly.
“Jim Boeheim said, ‘Let’s go orange,’” U.S. head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “So we did. It was his suggestion and our guys did a good job with that.”
Along with the pair of blocked shots, Durant also delivered 25 points, leading Team USA in the victory. He also brought in ten rebounds. Spain was caught off-guard with the zone play called by Boehim, as this came right after point guard Derrick Rose’s free throws to give USA the one-point lead.
“I just wanted to cover as much ground as I could and help my teammates,” said Durant. “I just didn’t want to foul on a 3-pointer so I stayed down and, luckily, game over.”
United States had to make another comeback like they did against Lithuania, expect this took a lot more. Trailing 13 points behind, USA rallied back.
“It was one of those games that was a learning experience for us and I think we made key plays down the stretch,” Durant said. “We also played as a team and stuck through tough times.”
Juan Carlos Navarro brought in 20 points for Spain, leading the team in the close-loss. Pau Gasol had 17 points. It was the first loss for Spain since nine games. And as being the FIBA World Championships winner just a year ago, it’s not something to be proud of. They really need to get back on track to get set on August 28th in Turkey.
With 90 seconds left in the game, Spain finally got back to a lead for them. Rubio stutter-stepped and made a nice dish to Felipe Reyes to give Spain a 82-80 lead. But USA came back, getting shots from Durant and Rose to register a 84-82 lead with a bit over 30 seconds to play.
“We made one more play than they did and that’s why we won,” Krzyzewski said.
Rose would finish the game with 13 points. Lamar Odom would have twelve points along with nine boards. This victory puts USA undefeated for the warm-up exhibition games, as they currently hold a 3-0 record.
“I thought ‘I’ve got to hit them,’” Rose said about his winning free throws. “Over here, people are going to remember me for this.”
USA’s final warm-up match will be against Greece.
“It was a great challenge and we should take this and run with it,” Rose said.