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Tag:2010 World Championships
Posted on: September 12, 2010 5:14 pm
 

Behind Durant's 28, the USA wins gold over Turkey

Posted by Royce Young

After dropping in his seventh 3-pointer early in the third quarter, Team USA's star backpedaled down the court shaking his hand with three fingers out. It wasn't the Jordan shrug, but Kevin Durant knew he had something going. And he knew his team was closing in on a big moment.

With two daggers right out of the locker room after a massive first half, Durant brok the backs of his opponent early, and he did it swiftly and efficiently. And for the tournament's MVP, anything less would've been a surprise.

In a game in front of one of the most hostile, vocal and rabid atmospheres you'll find anyway, Durant dropped a game-high 28 points on 10-17 shooting (7-13 from 3), leading the United States to its first World Championship gold medal in 16 years with a 81-64 win over host nation Turkey.

And the U.S. had to have Durant to lean on once again. Team USA held a lead from nearly the outset, but it was on the shoulders of the man called Durantula. Consider: In the first half, the U.S. went 6-22 from 3. Durant went 5-9 by himself. So if you do a little math there, that means the rest of Team USA sans Durant went just 1-13 from deep in the first 20 minutes. The team had 42 points and Durant had 20 of them.

Out of the locker room, Durant picked right up where he left off, popping two deep ones to extend out an 18-point lead for the States. But from there, his teammates started to step up. Lamar Odom had 15 points - all in the second half - and 11 rebounds. Derrick Rose finally found his offense scoring eight second half points. Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook added 13 huge points. And that's not including the stellar defense from players like Andre Iguodala and Eric Gordon. It may have been the Durantula Show early on, but the tension relaxed a bit because the rest of the red, white and blue picked things up.

Turkey had no match for Durant on either end. Hedo Turkoglu led the Turks with 16, but after that, no one scored in double-figures. And because of the athletic mismatches the U.S. presented for Turkey, the host nation had to go to a matchup zone for the majority of the game, something Team USA ate up. Well, something that Kevin Durant ate up.

Turkey, known as the "12 Giant Men" to their countrymen, played hard for the entire 40 minutes. They just didn't have the horses. The Turks desperately needed someone to step up huge, but players like Ersan Ilyasova and Omer Asik were held down by a swarming, intense U.S. man-to-man defense.

An underrated aspect of this victory is that the U.S. doesn't have to qualify for the 2012 Olympics during a time where NBA players might not be available because of a lockout. But I can promise you the States' own "12 Giant Men" don't give a darn about that. This is about that thing hanging around their necks. This is about the pride of doing something for your country that others before haven't been able to accomplish in 16 years.

Now this group of 12 will get on a plane and make a long trip home back to the States. Training camp starts in two weeks and by that time, the high from this tournament will have started to wear off. Players will return to their teams and return to their old roles. They'll go back to be the stars and main men for their NBA squad. They'll go back to playing for a city, a fan base or a contract, not their flag. Things will go back to normal, but these last 25 days in Turkey won't be something easily forgotten.

Some may try and kill the buzz by pointing out a the tournament's talent was watered down, that the U.S. is always a favorite and we didn't get anything unexpected or that Turkey wasn't a worthy opponent to play for gold. But it's been 16 years since the United States has heard the Star Spangled Banner at the World Championships. This is something special. And something that these players will always remember being a part of.
Posted on: September 11, 2010 2:09 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2010 2:12 pm
 

Durant carries Team USA to gold medal game

Posted by Royce Young

It was the blueprint that Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski had set up back in July when Team USA's roster started to take shape. Defend, make open shots, run the floor and most importantly, let Kevin Durant do what Kevin Durant does.

Durant set a U.S. World Championship record for points in a game with 38, as he led Team USA to the gold medal game with a 89-74 win over Lithuania. Durant had 24 at the half and only two in the second with six minutes left in the fourth. But as Lithuania closed in on the U.S. lead, Durant took over.

It was basically an offensive seminar for all in attendance from Durant. He hit 3s. He scored off the drive. He stepped back and hit jumpers. He got to the line. He scored 12 of the American's last 23 points. He was an impossible matchup for anyone Lithuania tossed out and behind Durant, the U.S. never let Lithuania really get too close for comfort.

Lithuania played mostly match up zone in the second half and tried to face guard Durant. It worked for a bit, but when Durant asserted himself and decided to take over, he did.

And while Durant is the the obvious star, the unquestioned MVP, Lamar Odom quietly put together a game that was equally important to Team USA's success. Odom finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks against Lithuania's big front line, but was huge doing extra little things. He tipped out rebounds, got a hand in passing lanes and made a few wonderful passes that led to easy buckets. Odom saved probably his best game of the tournament in one that his team desperately needed him.

Because Lithuania wouldn't go away. After a first half in which they scored on 27 points and shot just 25 percent from the field, the Lithuanians poured in 26 in the third and finished shooting at 39 percent. The 3-pointers started to rain in and at two points Lithuania got the score into single-digits.

But every time Lithuania closed in and started to make things uneasy for the Americans, someone stepped up.

In the first half, with the U.S. up by eight, Lithuania had an open fast break and a heap of momentum. Russell Westbrook closed the gap and stopped the run-out with a wonderful block from behind. The U.S. immediately turned around and hit a 3 after it. In the second half, Lithuania had gotten it to nine. Coach K inserted sharpshooter Eric Gordon who swiftly knocked down a 3 to push the game back to 12. It was a trend we saw all afternoon and something that eventually broke the Lithuanians backs.

One thing that Coach K has done a masterful job of is keeping his players completely focused and energized. In this type of format, you fall asleep for one half or one quarter and it could be deadly. But Team USA has been intense and locked in from the beginning of every game in the knockout round. That's a huge credit to Coach K and one of the things that he does better than any coach in the world.

And it helps when you've got that guy wearing No. 5 in white. He was ready from the tip and was prepared to shoulder the load. Durant has taken this team somewhere it hasn't been since 1994. The gold medal game.

Durant stepped out of his normal humble, soft-spoken character after knocking a dagger 3 that put the U.S. up 18 points with three minutes left. He turned, looked to the vocal Lithuania cheering section, popped the "USA" on his jersey a few times, then gave them a little salute. It was a moment you don't typically see from Durant, but on September 11th with more red, white and blue pumping through his veins than usual, he couldn't hold it in. And it was a moment that probably gave most every American watching chills. KD was feeling it. In more ways than one.

Team USA plays the winner of Serbia and Turkey Sunday in the gold medal game.

Posted on: September 10, 2010 3:30 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2010 3:33 pm
 

Lithuania stands between Team USA's shot at gold

Posted by Royce Young

It's not the team the United States expected to play in the semifinals. With Argentina rolling behind Luis Scola, there was almost no doubt that a showdown between the 2004 gold medal winners and the U.S. was coming. You could feel the buildup, even on Thursday morning, before Argentina played their quarterfinal game.

Except there was a problem. Argentina still had to play Lithuania. And by all appearances, they totally forgot about that.

Lithuania didn't slip past Argentina a team that was 6-0 going into that game. They didn't squeak by on a couple questionable calls or some uncharacteristic  hot shooting. Lithuania throttled the Argentinians. Like worked them over.

And while it might not be the game most expected in the semifinals of the 2010 World Championships, Lithuania is not someone to look past. If the U.S. didn't learn that lesson from what happened Thursday to Argentina, then Lithuania may do some more sneaking up.

But the U.S. knows this opponent. A little over two weeks ago in a friendly, Team USA defeated Lithuania 77-61 in New York. However, Lithuania held a 15-7 lead after one quarter and after 30 minutes of play, the U.S. only held a 9-point lead. But even since then, this is a Lithuania team that has really hit its stride. So while Team USA is familiar with its next opponent, there is still some studying to do.

How did Lithuania get here?
In group play, Lithuania cruised to a 5-0 record. Well, I shouldn't say cruised. More like scrapped. Their margin of victory in Group D was, 10 points a game. But that's inflated by 18, 13 and 14-point wins over Lebanon, New Zealand and France. Against Canada and Spain, Lithuania won by a total of five combined points.

In the tournament, they defeated China 78-67 in the round of 16 and then Argentina by 19, dropping 104 points on the former gold medal winners.

Who are their best players?
Lithuania is a pretty proud basketball country with a good history of winning and talented players. And one thing about them, is that they're missing some of their finest players. Sarunas Jasikevicius, Darius Songaila and projected lottery pick Donatas Motiejunas are all sitting out.

In Turkey, Lithuania has relied heavily on former Denver Nugget and new Toronto Raptor Linas Kleiza. Currently, Kleiza is averaging 19.1 points per game, good for sixth place at the Worlds. Against Argentina, Kleiza dropped 17 on 7-14 shooting and in the other big games (China, Canada and Spain), Kleiza averaged 21.6 ppg.

Besides him, Lithuania has three players averaging over nine points a game in forwards Jonas Maciulis and Martynas Pocius and guard Mantas Kalnietis.

What did we learn from the first meeting?
Not a whole lot. It was the first friendly for the U.S. against someone other than themselves and everyone looked fairly rusty. Durant went just 4-14 from the floor for 15 points. The two teams turned it over a combined 40 times and both shot right at 40 percent. Neither team opened up the playbook a ton and neither showed a whole lot.

It was clear from that game though that the U.S. held a pretty huge advantage in transition while Lithuania tried to run crisp in halfcourt sets. Lithuania wants to slow down. The U.S. wants to speed up.

How do they match up with the USA?
Not great. Well, not great for their sakes. Team USA is supremely more athletic. Kleiza will likely get the call against Durant, but even still, that's not a good matchup for Lithuania. Their guards will have a great deal of trouble running with Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Eric Gordon and someone like Chauncey Billups might see a million open shots.

Lithuania isn't afraid to zone and that may be what they do against the U.S. for most of the day. The matchups just don't play to their favor in really any way. They do hold a size advantage with nobody under 6'3 plus a guy that's 7'3, but that size differential hasn't affected the U.S. much to this point.

They can score and shoot though. They are sixth in the tournament in scoring per game at 81.9. They are also in the top 10 in rebounding. (The U.S. is first in both categories.) Against Argentina they shot 53 percent from the floor, 12-24 from 3 and had seven players score 12 or more points. So they're well-rounded and can put the ball in the basket.

Can Lithuania win?
Yes. Absolutely. In any tournament, when you're playing a hot team, it's reason for concern. Momentum and confidence is a strange thing in competition.

Other than the Brazil game, this is the first one Americans should actually fear. Russia put up a tough fight but they never had the horses to really make a push to win. While Lithuania doesn't have the matchups, they do have a reliable scorer than can carry them in Kleiza. If Russia had a player like that, they could've posed a much tougher task for the States.

It will likely be a lower scoring affair as Lithuania will try and slow the game down. I imagine it will be a couple possession game in the fourth, though the U.S. should handle business. But Lithuania is hot and they're hitting shots. If they get the 3 rolling like they did against Argentina and Kevin Durant isn't there to bail out Team USA again, it could be a long day for the red, white and blue.
Posted on: September 10, 2010 9:11 am
 

Shootaround 9.10.10: An extension for Noah?

Posted by Royce Young
  • Before we get too carried away with Joakim Noah for Carmelo Anthony talk, Marc Stein of ESPN says that the Bulls are actually working on something else Noah related: an extension. Which adds a potentially interesting twist to the trade rumors. Right now, Noah's salary is nowhere close to being enough to get a deal done with Denver for Anthony. Luol Deng would have to be included in the trade, but Denver is lukewarm on Deng. So if the Bulls extend Noah to say, $10 million a year, that would make a swap much easier. Just a thought.
  • Kevin Durant wrote "1972" on his sneakers yesterday for the game against Russia. Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie: "Not only does it remind me of how proud I am to be an American, but it should remind followers from all nations in this tournament that being part of a team can be a pretty special thing. Whether you're a member of Team USA at one point, CCCP, the Russian team, or a squad that didn't even exist in the 1988 Olympics (which took place the month Kevin Durant was born), it hardly matters. You're a teammate for life, and I appreciated Durant's little message to his teammates."
  • Ailene Voison of the Sac Bee on the reprehensible situation with Omri Casspi: "Kings forward Omri Casspi said Thursday he was 'hurt' after learning that a mural featuring his likeness was defaced with a swastika. The incident at 16th and R streets in midtown Sacramento is being investigated as a possible hate crime by local authorities. 'It's been all over the news over here,' said Casspi by phone at his family home in Yavne, Israel. 'Everybody's talking about it. It's hurtful to think that this is 2010, and there are still people like that out there. I almost don't know what to say. It's probably just some idiot who wants some publicity. But I know the people in Sacramento, and they have been wonderful to me. I know they must feel bad about this. Same thing with the Kings. I'll just let the police handle this and focus on having a great season.' Casspi, the first Israeli to play in the NBA, returns to Sacramento on Monday to begin preparing for his second training camp."
  • What does the old show "The White Shadow" and Turkey's 12 Giant Men have in common? Pete Thamel of the NY Times: "Turkey’s rapid rise as a basketball power can be traced, in part, to 'The White Shadow,' whose 54 episodes appeared on black-and-white TV here from 1980 to 1982. 'It made people aware of basketball in Turkey,' said Alper Yilmaz, a former national team player who works in the front office of Efes Pilsen, a club in Istanbul that has won 13 Turkish League titles since its founding in 1976. 'There was already basketball in Turkey,' Yilmaz added, 'but after that show, everyone started playing.'"
  • Chris Sheridan of ESPN on what gets lost in translation in international basketball: "The inclination for a player in foul trouble is to hold back, even just a little. Not so for Andre Iguodala , who played with so much energy and passion right when the Americans needed it that one of the Russian players actually thought he was swearing at him -- in Russian. "He say in Russian a bad word. I don't know how he know this. I won't even translate it. It's bad," said Russian forward Andrey Vorontsevich, who got yelled at by Iguodala after being a little too physical with Lamar Odom . "All I said was, 'watch it, watch it,'" Iguodala said, bewildered. "I don't speak any Russian."Apparently (according to bilingual Russian journalist Vladimir Gomelsky of NTV+, the Russian all-sports cable network), if you say, "watch it, watch it" fast enough, it can be misconstrued as the Russian euphemism for a female canine."
Posted on: September 9, 2010 1:22 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2010 1:23 pm
 

Team USA fights off tough Russians, 89-79

Posted by Royce Young

After a bogus whistle blew up a U.S. fast break in the second quarter with Russia hanging tight, some might have started to have flashbacks to the controversial gold medal game that took place 38 years ago to the day.

But Kevin Durant and company weren't going to let a repeat of the 1972 Olympic Games happen as Team USA advances to the semifinals with a 89-79 win over Russia. Durant led the way with 33 points on 11-19 shooting with Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook keying a big third quarter with 12 points and three steals off the bench.

Late in the second quarter though, things weren't going well for Team USA. Russia was hitting shots, outrebounding the Americans and held a 35-30 lead. But just the way it was planned, Durant took over igniting a 12-0 that helped the U.S. go ahead 42-35 and secure a lead they would never lose.

The U.S. did a splendid job of taking care of the ball, turning it over only eight times and only three times in the second half. That kind of ball security was necessary too, as Russia was playing smart upset-style basketball. Running quality halfcourt sets, hitting shots and defending at a high level. If the U.S. had gotten sloppy, this could have been a different result.

Westbrook was part of a big third quarter that saw the U.S. take complete control of the game. Westbrook had gambled some in the first half on defense, but in the third came up with three steals, all leading to run-out dunks. He was flying all over the court, stealing passes, firing up teammates and scoring at the rim. Westbrook was a major part in this win, and his main contribution was energy.

Lamar Odom was quietly outstanding on the block, scoring six points and grabbing 12 rebounds. He was called upon to defend Russia's large front line and he did a pretty terrific job of it. Despite the size differential, Russia only held a four rebound edge against the U.S. and only had nine offensive rebounds.

A lot of Knicks fans had their eyes on summer signee Timofey Mozgov of Russia. The 7'1 center was solid, scoring 13 on 6-9 shooting. But it was pretty clear that unless Mozgov caught the ball near the rim, he wasn't scoring. Odom was able to push him away from the block and limit scoring touches for the big Russian. It's easy to get excited about Mozgov because he has nice hands, great size and has played well in Turkey, but as Frank Isola of the NY Daily News pointed out, Hamed Haddadi also averaged 20 points per game in the Worlds. So maybe chill that exciting just a little.

Russia is a well-coached unit that focuses on controlling the game. And Team USA did a good job of playing to its own strengths and not letting Russia dictate tempo of the game. This was a dangerous game for the Americans because Russia was had a game plan going in and they were hitting shots early on. Commentator Fran Fraschilla compared it to an 8-seed versus a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament and he was right - it definitely had that feel.

It was a test that the U.S. passed. The Russians took their best shot and Team USA remained focused, came out with energy and the star players carried the load. Durant held up to the pressure of having to shoulder some weight, putting up big numbers, scoring in key moments and also, by playing a ton. Durant didn't check out of the game until there was 47 seconds left in the third.

As the tournament rolls into the semifinals, the Americans are going to face some adversity. There will be more situations where Durant will be called upon to score, Odom will have to rebound, Derrick Rose will have to create and Eric Gordon will have to hit shots. Today, the U.S. did all of the above. And heading into the toughest part of the tourney, that's what it will take if Team USA wants to come home happy.

Team USA gets the winner of Argentina and Lithuania in the semifinals Saturday.
Posted on: September 8, 2010 9:20 am
 

Shootaround 9.8.10: Super Scola

Posted by Royce Young
  • Luis Scola was a one man wrecking crew yesterday against Brazil. He finished with 37 points and scored six in the closing minutes for Argentina. He was so good, he got his general manager to tweet, "Scola goes into video game god mode to finish off Brazil. Wow."
  • Jason Friedman of Rockets.com on Scola's performance: "Having watched him for three years now, Rockets fans know the truth: Scola is simply passion personified. He loves the game. Loves the competition. Loves the challenge of improving himself every day. The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen once wrote that Scola is the walking, talking embodiment of every fan’s ideal: that if we, too, were able to compete at the world’s highest level, we would do so with the sort of passion and professionalism Scola displays on a daily basis. 99.999 percent of us play the game we love for free. If every professional basketball league on the planet were to suddenly dissolve, rest assured Luis Scola would play gratis, too. And he’d do so with a giant smile on his face."
  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star looking at Team USA's added incentive against Russia: "If the United States is looking for any extra motivation as the quarter-finals of the world basketball championships unfold, the players can look back on one of the darkest moments in the international history of the sport in that country, to a time before any of them were born. It was at the 1972 Munich Olympics, in one of the most storied games in international basketball history, that Russia beat the United States in a gold-medal game marred by a replayed finish that had all the stench of a pre-ordained result."
  • Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! looking at the same thing: "Thirty-eight years later, all the hate and acrimony between the Americans and Russians is gone on the basketball court. They used to look across the floor and wonder what in the world they had in common. All those Eastern European states – Serbia, Croatia and Lithuania – gobbled up the best players, and Russian basketball is left fighting for its identity, its soul, its future. Chicken fingers and potato skins in the shadows of the Ottoman Empire and Sea of Marmara — yes, the final victims of American sporting capitalism have paid a steep price."
  • Charles Barkley had a history of demanding trades and potentially chasing rings. Yet, he continues to rip on LeBron for the same things. Matt Bunch of Hot Hot Hoops looks at it: "So what’s the end result? Let your biases be known. Identify you’re being hypocritical, and explain why your present-day view is right and your past one is wrong. I don’t think anyone is clamoring for ideological rigidity from Trent Dilfer or Mark Schlereth or Charles Barkley, but if you’re going to say something that will figuratively make the listening audience’s ears bleed, preface it (or follow it) with an explanation of why you just said that thing. It’s the least you can do; we’re not stupid."
  • Could Chris Bosh's departure lead to Andrea Bargnani's breakout? RaptorsRepublic looks: "Maybe it’s a psychological thing with him, Bosh’s departure might not open up space on the court, but it could in his mind? Huh? Or maybe it’s simply a matter of hoisting more shots? Perhaps 14.3 FGAs a game doesn’t cut it for him and if he ups that he’ll be more interested in playing defense and will be more comfortable making plays for others. I’m clutching at straws here, but any way one looks at it, the burden of proof of whether Bargnani can become the player he was touted to be rests solely on him, not anyone else. It is no-one’s “fault” that he’s been under-performing except his. The coming season presents a different opportunity for Bargnani to excel, not necessarily a better one."
Posted on: September 7, 2010 4:31 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2010 4:33 pm
 

U.S. takes on hungry Russians in quarterfinals

Posted by Royce Young

It may have been a cakewalk for the U.S. in the round of 16, but the road to gold in Turkey is about to start getting a little more difficult. Next up is Russia for Team USA (Thursday at 11 a.m. ET), a squad with talent, size and a coach hungry to beat his native country.

How did they get here?
Thus far in the World Championships, Russia holds a nice 5-1 record. They went 4-1 in group play with only a 9-point loss to Turkey being a blemish. Russia dispatched New Zealand relatively easily in the round of 16 with Timofey Mozgov leading the way with 16 points and seven rebounds. Russia beat down New Zealand with tough defense, smart offense and by taking care of the ball. New Zealand shot only 31 percent from the floor and never had any rhythm on the offensive end.

Who are their best players?
Russia's best player, Vik Khryapa hasn't played in the championships yet, and will likely sit out against the U.S. with a nagging injury. So after him, there's a Sergey Monya, a quality 6'9 swingman that can shoot, Andrey Vorontsevich who had 18 points and 11 rebounds against New Zealand, Sasha Kahn who you might remember playing for the University of Kansas and Timo Mosgov who signed with the Knicks this offseason and is 7'3.

Mozgov has been impressive in the tournament thus far, leading the Russians in scoring at 12.5 ppg in just around 18 minutes a game. He's displayed a wide range of ability and has become a major piece to the Russians success. Vorontsevich has hit 9-18 from 3 so far in Turkey and combining him with Monya, the Russians have shooters.

Who is their coach?
Leading the Russians is David Blatt, a duel citizen for both the U.S. and Israel. Currently, he's the coach for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Blatt played point guard for Pete Carril at Prince from 1977-1981. He runs a version of the Princeton offense that uses a bunch of cuts and offside movement to free up passing lanes.

Some bulletin board fodder from aforementioned coach?

Everyone remembers the famous 1972 gold medal game right? The USSR defeated the Americans in what some would call a "controversial" game. Basically the officials stole the game from the U.S. Doug Collins famously left his silver medal in Munich and has never held it. But the current Russian coach thinks the game was fair.

"By the way, there's a wonderful film about that, and I hate to say it as an American, but it looks like the Russians were right," Blatt told Chris Sheridan of ESPN. "The American team was not cheated. Funny things happened, but in reality it was fair. It was fair."

Well, watch the ending of the game and tell me how it could possibly be fair. I'm sure Coach K has relayed this message to his team. If there was any extra motivation needed, Blatt just provided it.

How does the U.S. match up with Russia?
Russia has one of the most apt players to defend Kevin Durant in the 6'9 Monya, but still, even star NBA defenders can't hold Durant down. The Russians will struggle with Team USA's speed and athleticism, though Russia does have size. Mozgov is over seven feet, plus there's Kahn and Alexey Zhukanenko who are both 6'11.

Where Russia will struggle is with the guards. Pressure from Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Eric Gordon will likely force a number of turnovers from Russia, as their guards aren't strong with the ball.

But there will be more focus on Lamar Odom, Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler in this one than any game before because Russia wants to use the post to get open looks for the guards and forwards. Rebounding will be key so we might see more Love early on than we have yet. At least I hope so.

Can they beat the U.S.?
This should be a better game than Angola. Russia has some talent, some size and players that can actually match up against the U.S. Plus, they have a coach that won't allow them to get into a free-flowing affair like Angola did. This is a much better team than what Team USA saw Monday.

But they don't have a chance. Russia will try and make the game ugly by grinding out long possessions and scrapping defensively, but there's just too much of a talent differential. It won't be a 55-point spanking, but it will most likely be at least double-digits. And with Blatt's recent comments, Team USA might make it a point to add a few more buckets than usual.
Posted on: September 6, 2010 1:04 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2010 1:05 pm
 

Team USA dismantles Angola, 121-66

Posted by Royce Young

Some thought Team USA might have been holding something back in group play. Maybe they were, or maybe they're just hitting their stride.

The U.S. obliterated Angola 121-66 in a game that was only close at 0-0. It was 33-13 after the first, 65-38 at the half and in the end, 55 points separated the two teams.

This was easily the Team USA's best offensive performance as the U.S. hit triple-digits for only the second time in the tournament, scored the most points, shot a sizzling 53 percent and knocked down 18 3s on 38 shots. Kevin Durant and Chauncey Billups did most of the damage scoring 17 and 19 points, respectively, with all of Durant's coming in the first half. Rudy Gay and Eric Gordon both added 17 as well.

One of the most impressive and encouraging aspects of the game was the way the U.S. moved the ball. Team USA finished with 28 assists for their 41 made baskets, a pretty incredible number. Plus, the U.S. only turned the ball over four times and didn't have their third until the fourth quarter. It was near flawless offensive execution for the U.S., something that they had struggled with the past three games.

Angola helped some in getting the U.S.'s offense moving though. Angola didn't play hardly any man-to-man defense, but rather deferred to a very soft zone, letting the U.S.'s shooters have almost any look they wanted. Billups, who came in 4-19 on 3s in the previous five games, went 5-7 from deep. Gordon went 5-6 from 3. Derrick Rose hit 3 of 4. It was a shooting gallery for the U.S. and Angola didn't mind.

On top of the soft defense, Angola also never even attempted to control tempo. They were perfectly content with playing at the U.S.'s pace and as a result, didn't have a lot of of offensive consistency. The game was mainly free-flowing, especially on the Angola end. And the Angolans lack of size didn't help either. The U.S. won the boards 43-23 and snagged 19 offensive rebounds.

Angola's top scorer Olimpio Cipriano didn't play because of an injury sustained against Germany, but Joaquim Gomes had a nice night for Angola. He finished with 21 points on 9-12 shooting to lead all scorers.

Moving forward, there's not a ton to take from the game other than it looks like the U.S. is hitting on all cylinders. Which is obviously what you want to be doing heading deeper into the knockout round. The road is going to be much tougher than it was today, with a likely matchup against a quality Russia squad next.

Team USA has off Tuesday and Wednesday and will play the winner of Russia-New Zealand, who play a little later today.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com