Who says these guys couldn’t beat the 1992 United States Dream Team?
The 2012 team has just as much talent. It’s just the absurdity of the scores, as well as the presence of Michael Jordan, that immediately vaults the ’92 team to the top. However, basketball had yet to lay its seed on an international level. Eastern Europe could boast a few good players, but hardly to what could be compared to today’s international scene.
Going against a France team with eight NBA players, the United States pulled out a 98-71 win to kick off the opening round of pool play.
Kevin Durant led the way for both sides with 22 points and 9 rebounds, while LeBron James finished with a wildly efficient game to the tune of 9 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals in only 25 minutes. Kevin Love chipped in 14 points.
Ali Traore led the way for France with 12 points.
The Americans saw a few familiar faces on the opposing French squad, including former Finals MVP Tony Parker, Portland swingman Nicolas Batum, San Antonio forward Boris Diaw, and recent NBA champion Ronny Turiaf. Joakim Noah and Rodrigues Beaubois could have played, but are missing the Olympics with injuries.
Parker finished with 10 points and 4 turnovers, Diaw with 3 points and 6 rebounds, Batum with 7 points, and Turiaf with 6 points and 9 rebounds.
The French could easily boast an NBA team with their lineup, as they also possess former NBA player Yakhouba Diawara, current Washington Wizards forward Kevin Seraphin, and a former draft selection of the Spurs in Nando de Colo.
France put up a valiant effort to stick around with the Americans, only facing a one-point deficit going into the second quarter. But once the United States team started to hit their shots it was all over, with the Americans using a 30-15 second quarter advantage to take a 16-point lead into the half.
It only got uglier as the United States would then outscore France 26-15 in the third quarter to put the game on ice. By game’s end, all of the reserves were in and Anthony Davis had already played eight minutes. Davis finished with 3 points, 3 rebounds and 1 bock in the garbage-time minutes he received.
The Americans started off the contest missing their first six three-pointers, but ended the game with eight three’s converted. The French, on the other hand, could never get into a groove and finished with two three-pointers on 22 attempts. It told the story of the game as the Americans quickly put the game out of reach with their shooting ability.
Kevin Durant’s mostly; he finished shooting 3-of-5 on three-pointers and 6-of-13 overall. He did work in the scoring column, as well as on the boards–tying for the game high with nine–and recorded two blocks. His length obviously caused a problem for a French team that had no defensive answers outside of Batum.
Batum hardly provided an answer, either. Even though James only had nine points, LeBron was the one creating scores for his teammates and was basically the only one even attempting to distribute. The team, once again, hurts itself by forcing themselves into too many isolation plays.
Not this time, however, as the Americans finished with 27 assists to the French’s ten. The Americans forced France into 18 turnovers and never allowing their opponent to get into any sort of rhythm. France couldn’t score from outside and found it tougher to get it going inside with Durant, James and Tyson Chander holding it down in the post.
France can credit 27 free-throw attempts for staying in the game. Yes, the international refereeing is extremely strenuous and frustrating to watch. It’s understood that they’re attempting to keep the game as pure as possible, but all it’s doing is slowing the game down and not allowing either side to get into a rhythm.
The United States finished with 38 free-throw attempts.
America continues pool play with a game against Tunisia on Tuesday at 10:30 PM eastern time. Chances are likely they won’t be sporting as many NBA players as we saw today being featured on the French team.