At the conclusion of this game, the NBC analyst uttered this terrific one-liner:
“There will be no changing off the guard.”
Indeed, the overall consensus was that only two teams could truly upset the Americans at the Olympics and the United States played them in back-to-back contests: Argentina and Spain.
Team USA dispatched Argentina rather easily but had to work much harder to defeat a tough Spain opponent that is becoming accustomed to playing in these basketball classics against the Americans in the gold medal game.
Just as expected the Spaniards didn’t hold anything back and even took the fight to their opponents for several stretches of the gold medal game. Although the United States led for most of the contest, the lead was never a comfortable one given their inability to stop Spain from scoring.
Many had expected the tandem of Jose Calderon and Juan-Carlos Navarro to struggle against the US backcourt, but it turns out that they were quite effective offensively. In the first half, Navarro carried much of the scoring load, putting up 19 of Spain’s 58 points on a barrage of 3-pointers.
The hot shooting forced the US to stay at home on shooters in the second half, which led to a basketball clinic of post play by none other than Pau Gasol. The big man cared not for who was defending him on his way to a spectacular 15-point performance in the third quarter that probably made Mike Brown quite ecstatic.
With Marc Gasol spending most of the second half on the bench after picking up four fouls in the first half, Spain turned to his brother who scored on drop steps, scoop shots, hook shots, jumpers and dunks.
Every big play in this game was an offensive one, as the teams failed to truly stop one another during the contest. Spain tried to give the United States multiple looks, going from man-to-man, to zone and then to a box-and-one defense on Kevin Durant.
But with the firepower on the side of the US it seemed as though all the defensive schemes were for naught. Many will remember that Kevin Durant practically self-combusted on his way to a scorching performance, as he led the Americans with 30 points; but Team USA won the gold with brilliant plays from multiple players.
Chris Paul’s ball handling helped the team get into their sets and he also scored two big baskets in the fourth quarter — one to keep the team in the lead, and another to essentially put away their opponent — to help the team pull out the victory.
Kobe Bryant got himself to the foul line after being fouled on a 3-pointer and helped push the US lead to nine points with six minutes left in the contest and then came back, got himself an offensive rebound and converted a tough double-pump jumper to put his team up double digits.
After a string a turnovers, Team USA’s lead was cut down to six points and LeBron James re-entered the game after sitting out for a stretch due to foul trouble.
The reigning league and finals MVP went on to drive to the hoop and dunk the ball and then hit a long 3-point jumper with the shot clock ticking down that pretty much closed the door on Spain.
The Americans closed out the game and were victorious by a score of 107-100.
At the conclusion of the ball game, there was definitely a sense of joy, excitement, relief and pride associated with the win as the players hugged each other out as well as the coaching staff all the while celebrating on the court.
The United States has the best players in the world, but they have once again proven on the strength of their talent, cohesion and sacrifice that they have the best basketball team in on the planet.
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