Team USA 113, Dominican Republic 59
Well, the Dominican Republic was up at one point, commanding a massive 2 point lead. But after the usual fluke of 4-2, Team USA totally dominated the flawed Dominican Republic team. It wasn't the fast break show we're used to seeing, because John Calipari threw out a zone defense. The defense wasn't exactly stifling, as we saw the terrible three point defense that the Dominican Republic threw out in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, but it did limit the easy scores inside until the Dominicans gave up in the third quarter or so.
But, before I get into the specifics of Team USA's domination, let's talk about the few times the Dominicans did things right. They had two runs, a 7-0 run during the second quarter and another run during the early third. Neither of them were very consequential, but both of them centered around the Dominicans ability to beat Team USA on the boards. The Dominicans were also seeing success by pounding Yack Michael Martinez in the lane, and via the odd cutter here or there. I know that it might seem like grasping at straws right now, but Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love could be hugely essential for Team USA as they start to face stiffer competition.
Another talking point is how jumpshot reliant this team is. Obviously, they'll be able to run with a team like France or Nigeria, but when they go against half-court set heavy teams like France, Brazil, Russia, and et cetera, we could see some stretches of no offense.
But, before I get too ahead of myself, the obvious answer to that concern is Kevin Durant. With the shorter three point line, Kevin Durant is much closer to the mid-range game that has been his bread and butter ever since he left college. Additionally, without the pressure that other teams put on him in the NBA, he's able to shoot basically uncontested, allowing for a fantastic shooting percentage. He was lights out in the first quarter, and finished the game shooting over 50%.
Westbrook and Harden had terrific games as well. Westbrook was ultra aggressive on defense in the third, stealing it in a one on one situation in the backcourt twice in a row, and nearly doing it a third time before getting called for a foul. He was also rejected by the rim once, but I'll chalk that one up to....nerves? Harden also did well, but he made his mark in the fourth.
(Honey Badger doink)
That's all I really have to say about this game. It was a total blowout, and just a warmup for things to come. The Thunder Wonder is Kevin Durant. Oh, and we need to sign Yack. If only for his name.
Next Game: Versus Brazil in the Verizon Center at Washington, D.C. Monday, July 16th, 7 PM Central Standard Time, ESPN.