The Spanish outplayed the US for the first quarter, and with an array of players that are all paid millions, the US was trailing by 5 early, their biggest deficit of the Olympics. This was an injured Spanish team, and they were still beating the so-called Redeem Team.
Chris Paul, for the US, fortunately was strong driving to the basket, drawing fouls and sinking the basket, for 3-point plays.
Wade entered the game and exerted some obvious hustle, and the announcer noted “the team seems to play their best ball when he is on the court.” So maybe the US could show why they get paid millions to sink hoops.
Why can’t they just bring the championship NBA Team the Celtics to clean up this Spanish motley crew? If they could humiliate the Lakers, certainly they could make mincemeat out of a few Spaniards.
But the overly tattooed US Team looked kind of silly overall against a team that should have been a relatively easy target. At the end of the first quarter, Wade made a steal, but looked like a spaz going to the basket, throwing the ball away.
The US led after the first quarter, but not by much, and these are the best the US can offer?
Lucky for the US, as the game entered the second period, the Spanish team was missing free throws. Kobe sank a three to put the US up by ten. He is not getting enough credit in these games for his leadership. He sinks it when he has to and he is doing it from everywhere on the court. If he played like this against the Celtics, they would still have lost, just by not as much.
Dwight Howard of the US made a stupid foul. He let Gasol get by him and instead of just letting the shot go, he grabbed Gasol like a rag doll, and received an “Un-sportsman-like foul”. What excuse does a pro team up by 10 have for acting out like this?
Gasol missed both shots. Howard got lucky. And the Spanish, had they practiced their free throws, may have been in this game more.
Kobe traveled getting two on a fast break, but the ref missed it and he got the basket giving another break to the US.
Spain started getting sloppy, and the referees seemed to start getting much lighter on the foul calls, letting the US team take advantage of their aggressive play, leading to a 13 point lead. But Spain sunk a three to bring it from within 10.
An easy strip of the US by Rubio and a weak foul by the US led to Rubio sinking two free throws and reducing the US lead to 8.
On the ensuing play, Anthony got stuffed and Spain stole the ball. The US had to resort to a foul to keep Spain from getting within 6 easily. The US team looked like they were dancing with the Spanish players, grabbing them in ways the referees should never have allowed.
Kobe, our hero of this Olympics, took a weak shot by Spain and a fast break pass to sink an easy basket. Kobe was smooth.
But with the squeak of the sneakers, Spain snuck in another basket to keep it within 8.
Offensive foul US on a sadly missed layup led to the Spain throwing in 2 free throws to come within 6.
Now the weirdest play of the game. A quadruple steal. Spain steals from the US, who steals from Spain, who steals it back form the US and Wade finally steals it again from Spain. James went to the basket and sunk it and drew the foul. Spain blew a chance to come within 4. James missed, but Wade stole the ball again and sunk it for a 10 point US lead and Spain called for mercy with a time out.
At the half, it was within 9 for Spain, and the overpaid “redeem team” was looking vulnerable.
Spain immediately pulled within 6 and this was looking like a real play-off game. Something the US certainly did not expect after blowing out this same Spanish team by 40 points earlier in the Olympics.
The US looked like they had little heart. Maybe it was because there was no bonus paycheck in this game, but they threw it to Spain. The US countered with a steal, just to have Spain nab it back on their end of the court. Spain went for a three and missed.
The rest of the game was pretty much the same. The US did not give up their lead, but they didn’t expand it either. US Gets Gold by 11, 118-107.
The “Redeem Team” gets the Gold, but we are thinking after this kind of play, the teams they play for may want to renegotiate their contracts to save a few mill.