OLYMPICS – USA beat pesky Aussies
The United States men’s basketball team gave fans another scare before finishing off a 98-88 win over Australia last night in Rio.
It was the second straight time in the Olympic Games that the U.S. has stumbled out of the gate, but just like the eventual blowout of Venezuela, the team figured it out against a less talented opponent in the end.
Australia provided more trouble than Coach K’s team has seen yet during this Olympic run. The Americans had no problems dominating their pre-Olympics exhibition schedule, then opened in Rio with lopsided victories over China and Venezuela. While the latter game provided only some early issues, the Australians were pests throughout a surprisingly close match.
Carmelo Anthony was big at the start and the finish. He led all scorers with 31 points, including a bunch of huge three-pointers, and set a big Olympic record in the process. He opened the game with a flurry of triples, then hit several big shots in the fourth quarter when the game was still close. Anthony has had so many big games for Team USA over the years, and you can definitely add this one to the list.
Only two other Americans, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, scored in double digits, and they combined for just 33 points on 31 shots. However, Irving was much better in the second half, and hit several big shots — including a huge three after Australia cut the lead to four — in the final minutes.
Other than Anthony and Irving, the Americans leaned heavily on defence and three-pointers to get the win. The team shot just 39 percent overall, but settled in on the defensive end and hit enough from beyond the arc to hang on. The U.S. actually shot better on threes (17-of-39, 44 percent) than twos (17-of-48, 35 percent) in the game. Another big difference was turnovers, as Australia had 16 to USA’s nine.
Patty Mills led Australia with 30 points on 11-of-22 shooting, while Andrew Bogut had another good effort with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Matthew Dellavedova had a double-double with 11 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in 32 minutes.
You have to imagine a game like this caught the Americans’ attention a bit. They’re used to crushing opponents and just had a tough time against a team led by NBA reserves. While they still won in the end, the U.S. should rightly expect to blow out just about everyone they play.
The U.S. are now 3-0 in preliminary action at the 2016 Olympics. The team will play Serbia tomorrow and France on Sunday to conclude the group stage.