USA beat Lithuania today 120-84 in an exhibition match in Macau.
Random observations from the telecast on ESPN:
– Rich Kamla really had his work cut out for him with the names of the Lithuanian players, but he did an admirable job. He did his homework and didn’t have to resort to calling the players by their number, which is a victory in itself, and a good show of respect for the Lithuanians. He represented his country well as an announcer!
– Funny give-and-take between broadcasters Fran Fraschilla and Rich Kamla. At one point, Fran says that Kobe Bryant is the “best player on the planet”. Rich Kamla demurs and responds, “I have Lebron James as the best in my book”. Fran doesn’t take the bait, and changes the subject. I’m sure David Friedman over at the 20 Second Timeout blog will have something to say about this.
– Speaking of Friedman, he’s spot on about Carmelo Anthony’s defense. It is atrocious. Anthony doesn’t help, is in the wrong place at the wrong time, and gambles for steals in a manner that leaves his teammates in the lurch when he misses the ball.
– I feel for Sarunas Jasikevicius. He was being alternately hounded by Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul for the whole game, ending up with (officially) 3 turnovers, but it seemed like 15 turnovers. Can you imagine being smothered by two of the best players in the entire world? And that’s a motivated Kobe and Paul! Jasikevicius was harassed and stymied at every turn, and it ultimately rendered Lithuania unable to run their offense with any level of comfort.
– Dwyane Wade is BACK. He took an alley-oop from Chris Paul and did a windmill off of it.
– Kobe does not look old at all. In fact, he looks almost a few years younger, chasing smaller guards around, and even displaying some nice hops on fast break dunks and alley-oops dunks. He actually looks like he has gained half a step. His defensive intensity is infectious, and the whole team follows his example.
– Team USA’s half-court offense still needs some work. It looked stagnant against Lithuania’s zone. The only exception was when Deron Williams handled the ball. He was able to get into the paint on the zone, and break the defense down. Otherwise, the players seemed a little lost on how to attack Lithuania’s 2-3 defense. There needs to be quicker passing and more passes into the paint to break down the opponent’s sets. But picking Michael Redd to be on Team USA was a very smart decision. That guy is made to bust zone’s with his outside shooting.
– Lebron James is one of the best outlet passers I’ve seen. His ability to throw the ball from long distances is uncanny. He could have been a quarterback with his range and accuracy. The ball seems so tiny in his hands, and he can throw it 80 plus feet with so much ease.
– Lithuania has some skilled players. NBA scouts are definitely going to be taking a good look at Robertas Javtokas, who posterized Carmelo on Lithuania’s first points of the game with a vicious dunk in transition. Javtokas finished with 11 points on 5-9 shooting.
– Team USA’s intensity is off the charts right now. Might we have to be worried about a little burn-out before the real Olympic games? Probably not, but it’s something to keep an eye on.