Spain didn’t go as easy this time. With 2 1/2 minutes to play, the US were only up by 4 points.
Bryant converted a clutch four-point play with 3:10 remaining. Wade added another 3-pointer that made it 111-104 with just over 2 minutes left.
“They began to celebrate during a break after some technical fouls on Spain with 26 seconds left, then partied at midcourt when it was over with “Born in the USA” blaring over the arena’s speakers.”
“We played with great character in one of the great games in international basketball history, I think,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Dwyane Wade led the team with 27 points, Bryant added 20 points and
Lebron James scored 14 points, while Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul had 13 apiece.
Argentina won the bronze with an 87-75 victory against Lithuania.
The 2008 Summer Olympics could not have started any better for Team USA. After overcoming a slow start, where they were changing the leads several times with China, team USA used their poise and experience to settled down and eventually wear out China 101-70. LeBron James started for the “Redeem Team” and had 18 along with Dwyane Wade’s 19 off of the bench which led to the rout.
China started the game with a 3 by Yao Ming and then China went on to make 8 of the team’s first 12 three pointers to keep the game close. On the other hand, Team USA started 1/12 behind the arc in the first half, but finished shooting 7/29. China kept making shot after shot and was tied with the Americans at 29 before Team USA pulled away. This was due to the ball pressure that Kobe Bryant applied to the Chinese guards. Bryant’s pressure led to many turnovers and fast break opportunities which the Americans converted.
LeBron James helped his international star power with this game. On two different occasions, he blocked a shot and pinned the ball against the glass in mid air. This led to roars from the pro Chinese crowd and earned respect amongst all fans in attendance. James was joined by Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd, and Dwight Howard as starters in the first Olympic game for the team.
Team USA will need to shoot the 3 better and defend against it better once they get into the medal round if they want to win the gold. Luckily, they have enough depth, versatility, and athleticism to overcome this. Most teams are looking to run a zone against the Americans and they will need to improve upon their outside shooting percentage if they expect to make it to the gold medal game. The next game that LeBron and company will play is on Tuesday against Angola.
Lebron James is on the cover of TIME magazine as the “Leader of the Redeem Team”
“I want U.S.A. basketball to be dominant again,” he says emphatically. “Every time people see the red, white and blue, they fear us.” Lebron said.
Lebron James is not only leading a team of all stars but he is also guaranteeing the gold medal.
So you’re going to bring a hoops title back home to the U.S., the country that gave birth to the game, reared it and then lost the ball to more graceful global neighbors? “Absolutely,” James responds. Guarantee it? “Absolutely.”
When asked about his leadership, “you’re going to be hearing LeBron on the court, yelling and screaming, talking on defense,” Wade said.
“James insists he can still treat Jason Kidd, a 14-year NBA vet, and Bryant, the league’s reigning mvp, like green rookies if they screw up. He’ll feel free to scream in their face. “I can’t play unless I’m that type,” he says. “There’s no way I can hold back.”