By: Jeffrey Newholm
Paul George led the team with 20 points, Jimmy Butler added 17 and the US pulled away after a slow start to defeat Venezuela 113-69 Monday evening. US seemed to play unfocused ball in the first quarter, and could only muster a tie at the end of the period. But America turned up the intensity after the quarter break and turned the stalemate into a 22 point halftime lead. While not a factor in the game’s opening minutes, Deandre Jordan quickly came into his element, dominating the Venezuelans in the paint to the tune of six of seven shooting. The game eventually turned into the one-sided affair it figured to be after an easy US win between the two teams in exhibition play. But there was some doubt after the opening tip.
In the first quarter, team US looked unfocused on offense, emboldening the Venezuelan bench. Were it not for Kevin Durant’s efforts, America could have conceivably been behind after one. Durant has been at his finest in these games, always playing with enthusiasm and complimenting Jordan’s inside game well with suave outside shooting. Durant seems to realize that, with his move to the Warriors, he has embarked on a quest to establish a star legacy. With this in mind, he has seized the bull by the horn in these games, flaunting his skills for the wider basketball world to see. For a team with many rising stars, Durant’s could prove to shine the brightest.
I’ve said all along, and my thoughts were confirmed with America’s closing run, that this team has plenty of talent to win gold. The only question is that of the proper temperament. The 10 new players need to understand that Olympic basketball is purely professional. It is not a NBA show, and is not officiated as such. There isn’t an endless litany of timeouts to sell beer and phones. This team can have fun when the lead gets out of hand, but against superior foes its players need to give full effort from the start. The proper goal for team US has always been gold. For a team a bit barren of its usual talent, America’s players need to focus on playing well over playing with flair.
You can follow me on Twitter @JeffreyNewholm and our blog @NutsAndBoltsSP.