Is Kevin Durant the next Kobe Bryant after all? Team USA fans are certainly swaggering today after their guys’ strong showing in upending the defending FIBA world champions, 86-85.
Durant was the alpha dog for the US – a role many including BiE worried about going unfilled a la my least-favorite 2006 team – in scoring 25 points and showing he’s still a master of the zone in completely controlling Spain’s last possession to cap the win for Team USA after an incredible second half from Espana.
As USA opened with a 16-3 and an unstoppable Derrick Rose and later extending that lead to 20, Spain showed the US’ main strength to also be a weakness: When Team Spain got into the open-floor game, so went the comeback. Rather than killing with a frontcourt that would seem to have all the advantages late, Juan Carlos Navarro and Ricky Rubio instead drove Spain in the late stages of the game by doing their Krzyzewski-team impression to run, Jack, run and jump shoot their way through the final stages.
However, the final line says USA 86, Spain 85 – and this without Rajon Rondo (who’d been announced as a starter previously), Danny Granger and Kevin Love. Not bad, USA, not bad at all.