Blog Entry

USA defeats Spain 86-85 in an exhibition classic

Posted on: August 22, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2010 5:35 pm
Posted by Royce Young

With about 90 seconds left in Team USA's game against Spain Sunday, I had to stop and remind myself, "Wait, this is an exhibition. It doesn't even count." But it felt like it did. And both teams played as if it did.

In a rematch of the 2008 gold medal game and what might have been a preview of this year's title game in Turkey, Team USA defeated Spain 86-85 in front of a rowdy sold out crowd in Madrid.

The game came down to a final possession as Kevin Durant bothered Ricky Rubio into an airball then won it for the U.S. with a block on Rudy Fernandez as time expired. Derrick Rose came up big for Team USA in crunch time on the other end hitting two free throws with 16 seconds remaining to put the U.S. up one.

Early on, it looked like the Americans would cruise to an easy victory. The States jumped out to a 16-3 lead hitting seven of their first 10 shots while Spain was ice cold, starting just 1-10. But the Spaniards were pesky. Despite the sluggish start, Spain stayed close and used a big third quarter run to cut the U.S. to two, eventually tying the score at 80-80 with about three minutes left in the fourth.

The game against Lithuania was an excellent learning experience for the young group of Americans because Team USA had to overcome some adversity and poor offense to eventually pull away from a gritty group. Today's game against Spain is an equally important test but in a different way. Team USA was pushed and had to figure out what it would do in difficult times. Where does the ball go in crunch time? Who's handling the ball in a close game? Who's defending their playmakers? All these questions finally got a first answer put to them.

Durant finally found his offense, scoring 25 points in his usual effortless manner. He was 9-16 from the floor and in key moments late, the offense centered around him. After Spain took its first lead of the game 82-80 with about two minutes remaining, the U.S. immediately went to Durant who hit a tough baseline runner to knot the score again. It may have been only an exhibition, but these were some defining moments for Team USA, as this young group begins to find some identity and understand roles.

Another potentially interesting thing to mention was Coach K's rotations at the end of the game. Lamar Odom saw time at center over Tyson Chandler who didn't play well. Also, Russell Westbrook subbed in on defense for Chauncey Billups meaning that Westbrook likely will make the final 12-man if anything for at least a defensive stopper.

Both Danny Granger and Rajon Rondo sat today, but the feeling there is that it was for no other reason than to get some rest and give some extended looks to guys competing for that final spot. Kevin Love also didn't play because of a hard fall Saturday against Lithuania, but is fine and will be ready for the next game.

Obviously, with this being a friendly, it's safe to assume both teams held a little something back. Both squads surely expect to each one another again at some point in the tournament and didn't want to show too many cards. But at the same time, both groups wanted to win. Spain's guards were tough for the U.S. to handle and Marc Gasol chewed up Team USA on the inside. On the flip side, the Team USA's athleticism was too much for Spain to keep up with and in big moments the U.S. had proven playmakers while Spain didn't have somewhere to go.

If we really learned anything certain to take away from this exhibition it's that if these two teams meet again, it should be a whole heck of a lot of fun.


Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: August 23, 2010 7:57 pm

USA defeats Spain 86-85 in an exhibition classic


Since: Jul 13, 2010
Posted on: August 23, 2010 5:11 am

USA defeats Spain 86-85 in an exhibition classic

Who cares about this anyway? Like 2 percent of the country maybe...

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: August 23, 2010 2:13 am

USA defeats Spain 86-85 in an exhibition classic

Sick of people saying the USA isn't favored?

RETARDS!  They must not watch any basketball, or are jealous Europeans.

The USA has by far the most talented players.  

Their biggest obstacle will be to maximize their talent as a team.

Since: Jul 2, 2009
Posted on: August 23, 2010 1:59 am

Odom's the Key

As I've said, Lamar Odom is the key to this team. His versatility and front-court play gives the team a very nice, athletic advantage over other national teams featuring plodding centers. His two-man game with Billups has been outstanding, and on one play showed just why he gives the U.S. a big edge when he's playing: Odom contested a shot, grabbed a rebound, streaked downcourt, pushed it down the middle and layed it up. His speed/athleticism/length/versatilit

y is picture perfect for the international game. His pick-and-rolls are unstoppable.

Rose was outstanding too, as was Kevin Durant. I had my doubts about Team USA's physical play, but their outstanding athleticsim makes up for it. I thought they would be overmatched at times, but so far so good. I still think they'll be tested in a rematch with Spain, or against Argentina, but this game eased my mind as far as their ability to win the World Championship.

GO USA!!!!!!

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: August 23, 2010 12:30 am

USA defeats Spain 86-85 in an exhibition classic

Well said, mykinator.  Plus in international play, there is much greater emphasis on playing for your country, and the team from Spain has been together for years.  They are the defending gold medal winners from the last FIBA World Games.  They are more familiar with international rules and the physical play allowed in the international game.  I expect that USA's ranking will be moved up to #1 due to the fact that our senior men's national team won gold in the last Olympics, and our Under 19 and Under 17 teams have done well.  FIBA takes all of a country's team success into account when ranking each country's team and the rankings only change every 8 years.

I think Team USA has a chance, but we CAN'T take Spain or Greece for granted and we have to be more disciplined--no more alley-oop lob passes or fancy dunks.  Put the ball in the basket with a layup--you get 2 points for that and no points for style. 

Neither Spain nor USA showed their full hands today--teams never do in the scrimmages that preceed the World Games, but Spain has plenty of experience and our Team USA this year is not made up of internationally known superstars so we won't have the crowd on our side like in the Olympics.

Go USA!!!!

Since: Aug 16, 2009
Posted on: August 22, 2010 11:14 pm

USA defeats Spain 86-85 in an exhibition classic

Everyone else you didn't mention.

Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: August 22, 2010 10:05 pm

USA defeats Spain 86-85 in an exhibition classic

Dwide, which Spain players exactly don't or didn't play in the NBA? Marc Gasol starts for Memphis. Calderon starts for the Raptors. Rudy Fernandez set a NBA rookie record for threes. Navarro made the All-Rookie second team. Garbajosa won NBA rookie of the month award. Let's not forget Ricky Rubio was the 5th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. He was drafted ahead of Steph Curry, ahead of Brandon Jennings. He had a ton of steals in today's game. Sergio Llull was drafted by the Nuggets. Fran Vasquez was drated with the 11th overall pick in 2005.

Since: Sep 30, 2009
Posted on: August 22, 2010 9:34 pm

USA defeats Spain 86-85 in an exhibition classic

i know right if any team beats them that would be a huge upset.

Since: Aug 16, 2009
Posted on: August 22, 2010 9:16 pm

USA defeats Spain 86-85 in an exhibition classic

I'm sick of people saying that the U.S. aren't the favorites to win this thing. If you just look at our team and compare it to any other country we are much more talented. These no names on Spain would be playing in the NBA if people thought they were good. We still have a lot of stars (while not superstars) playing for us. Durant is considered a top 5 NBA player. Rose, Gay, and Iguodala are all considered stars. We should be beating every team by at least 10 points.

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