Playing alongside the likes of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul could be intimidating to some.
It seems that those three may no longer be as feared as they once were; because LeBron James made them, as well as the entire Brazilian team, look like commoners last night in the United States’ 80-69 victory.
James scored 30 of the team’s 80 points, including two key three-pointers in the fourth to keep the United States on top with a serviceable lead.
While the game was never truly in doubt–not even when Brazil was up 27-17 near the end of the first quarter–James continued his MVP journey by scoring nearly half of his team’s points to help lead the comeback and, inevitably, put the Americans at 2-0 in their first two exhibition games.
After yielding 27 first quarter points to Brazil, the Americans only allowed five points in the second. They went up 30-29 early in the second and held the lead for the rest of the game. Their defense forced Brazil into countless turnovers, leading the way for easy transition points such as this particular beauty from the King himself:
Honestly, the United States had the game wrapped up from the start. They hardly forced the issue inside and continued to take unnecessary three-pointers throughout, even though the entire team collectively couldn’t bury a shot. A lack of passing also contributed to the close game as the Brazilian point guard finished with more dimes than the entire American team.
That’s sad for a team with James, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Russell Westbrook on its roster. However, it could all be a sign of this team attempting to make adjustments towards playing together the right way. They’re still finding ways to get comfortable and adjusting to playing in a competitive environment with an All-Star team.
It’s not that easy, and Miami Heat fans should know that more than anyone else. These international squads have become good and they’re just not going to let talent beat them; it’s going to take smart playmaking, continuing to play aggressive defense, and forcing the issue inside.
The Americans don’t have any power forwards or centers who can post-up, thus the need for its slashers to make their presence felt inside. They have to utilize their athletic attributes to their addition because it will give them an advantage in every game they play on the international level.
There is no other country that can even come close to matching the speed and athleticism of Americans, which is why they’ll end up winning Gold.
The Americans now travel overseas to play the United Kingdom on Thursday. Chances are they won’t put up the same fight Brazil did.
Brazil managed to keep this as a game the majority of the way because of their passing and rebounding. Anderson Varejao led the way with 13 boards and the Brazilians ended up out-rebounding the Americans 38-30. USA starting center Tyson Chandler only had one board in 19 minutes.
Anthony Davis didn’t play a single second. It’s disappointing considering these are only exhibition games and the Americans could truly use the help on the boards against these bigger international squads. At some time, he will have to play and offer productive minutes under the rim.
USA can get away with that shoddy rebounding against Brazil, but teams like Argentina and Spain, who are just as collectively big as the Brazilians, have the weapons to make it competitive.
The United States will play Spain and Argentina in their final two exhibition games.