USA def. ESP 82-76 | Box Score
In the first game of today’s Men’s Olympic basketball semifinal doubleheader, team USA would take on Spain. These two teams without a doubt, have the strongest rosters in the Olympics, a matchup most people saw coming in the gold medal game. Team USA will be going for their third straight gold medal, and they will have to get through their toughest opponent yet. Both of these teams had convincing wins in the quarter finals, with the US beating Argentina 105-78, and Spain defeating France 92-67 on the strength of Nikola Mirotic’s 23 points. The winner of this game, will go on to face the winner of Australia vs Serbia in the Gold Medal game.
The changes coach K made in their lineup would prove effective again. With DeAndre Jordan moved into the starting five, and providing stellar rim protection against a Spanish team, who likes to penetrate to the basket as much as possible. While the lineup of Lowry/Butler/George/Durant/Cousins, continues to dominate any second lineup the opposing teams throw at them. Ricky Rubio would pick up two early fouls, and Nikola Mirotic would struggle from the field, leading to the US taking an early nine point lead in the first.
Technical fouls would be a big part of the first half. Both Paul George and Kevin Durant would earn early technical fouls, while Spain’s head coach Sergio Scariolo and Nikola Mirotic would pick up techs, along with a delay of game warning on the Spanish team leading to a team technical foul.
Spain’s play on both ends would come alive in the second quarter, their tough defense would force the US into some tough shots late in the shot clock. While on the other end, it was Pau Gasol who would finish the first half with 12 points, and 3 rebounds, and would continue to be efficient from the field shooing 4/7. Spain would still trail by six, 45-39 at the half, as it was Klay Thompson leading the way for the US, pouring in 17 points, making three of his five three point attempts.
The first half of this game wouldn’t have much flow to it. Neither team would be able to get into a rhythm, and just as things started to look like they would have something going, someone would pick up a foul or commit a turnover. This game would be pretty ugly in the first half, but at least it was close.
Half: USA 45, ESP 39@KlayThompson with a game-high 17 points (6-of-10 FGs).
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) August 19, 2016
The strong play of Jordan, would continue to be vital to success of team USA holding their lead in the third quarter. Just about everyone on Spain would struggle to get easy baskets inside, with Jordan shifting over and protecting the rim. He would finish the first three quarters with 9 points, and 12 rebounds. With DeMarcus Cousins fouling out quickly in the third quarter, Jordan would most likely have to carry the front court down the stretch of this game. After three, the US would hold their nine point lead at 66-57, looking to get to another Olympic gold medal game.
While Spain would look more energized in the beginning of fourth, team USA would match their energy. Spain would miss a ton of open threes, while the US would play just well enough to hold onto their steady 9 point lead into the late minutes of this game. Spain’s comeback would fall short in this one, as some late offensive fouls would finish Spain’s Olympic gold medal chances were over. Gasol would finish this game with 23 points, and 8 rebounds, while shooting 9/19 from the field. For the US it was Thompson, who had that hot first half finishing with 22 points, and shooting 4/8 from three. The player of the game for the US was really Jordan, who’s defense would stop Spain from ever going on a run. Jordan would finish this game with 9 points, 16 rebounds, on 4/6 shooting from the field. Team USA would defeat Spain 82-76.
Raptor Watch –
Kyle Lowry was great playing the second unit, finishing the game with 9 points, three assists, while playing some great defense. It took a while for Lowry to cement his place on this team, but he has become a key player for team USA’s second unit. Team USA’s second unit looks like their most efficient lineup, and Lowry is the leader of that lineup on both ends.
DeRozan DNP Coach’s Decisions.
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