Team USA Basketball: USA Survives Against Australia


Team USA Basketball won their first two match-ups in the Rio Olympics. Team USA is now 3-0 after a tough win against Australia.

Team USA Basketball’s starting lineup had a change as the Americans tipped off aganst Australia. Coach K went with the hot hand of Paul George at shooting guard, while Klay Thompson was not in the starting five. Thompson has struggled through two games, while George led Team USA Basketball in scoring against Venezuela.

The Australians presented the biggest challenge yet for Team USA, as Australia’s starting five consisted of an NBA player at each position.

For the first time in three Rio games, Team USA got off to a quick start thanks to Carmelo Anthony. Anthony hit three straight three pointers in the first two minutes, scoring Team USA’s first nine points. It was just the beginning of a huge game Anthony.

Australia quickly proved to the world that they were the most talented team that the United States has faced thus far. In the first quarter, the Aussies made plays in transition, and used crisp ball movement to create open looks on offense.

The foul troubles that plagued DeMarcus Cousins against Venezuela seemingly carried over to Wednesday’s game. A frustrated Cousins accumulated two early fouls once again, which resulted in early minutes for DeAndre Jordan.

Australia spaced the floor extremely well on offense, and late in the first quarter Australia held the lead. A fourth three pointer by Carmelo Anthony put Team USA back in the lead, and gave Anthony 276 career points in Olympic play. With that three pointer, Anthony is now the leading scorer in USA Basketball history.

It was clear early that Team USA had a battle on their hands, as the score was tied at 29 to end the first quarter.

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Surprisingly, Kevin Durant got off to a rough start. After two solid performances in the first two games, Durant started the game 0-6 from the field. Also in the second quarter, DeMarcus Cousins picked up his third foul. This amounted to his eighth foul in his last 11 minutes played, dating back to the Venezuela game. These struggles, combined with a determined Australian team, saw the United States lacking momentum throughout the second quarter.

Australia took an impressive 54-49 lead into the halftime break. 17 first half points from Carmelo Anthony kept Team USA within striking range. However, it was the first time Team USA Basketball trailed at the half since 2004.

Quite simply, Australia moved extremely well without the ball on offense, and kept the ball moving. Australia shot an eye-opening 68 percent from the field in the first half. On the other side of the floor, Team USA lacked sufficient ball movement. While Carmelo Anthony had success on offense, others struggled to hit their shots.

In the third quarter, Team USA Basketball went on a 9-0 run to take a 58-54 lead. After shooting so well in the first half, Australia got off to a tough start. DeMarcus Cousins picked up his fourth foul five minutes into the third quarter, and had to head to the bench once again. With Cousins accumulating so many fouls over the past two games, it has been tough for the big man to make much of an impact.

There was some hostility between the two teams as Andrew Bogut committed a hard foul on Kevin Durant. DeAndre Jordan was among the players clearly upset by Bogut’s foul.

The third quarter was a game of runs, as the score was tight throughout. After trailing by 5 at the half, Team USA led 70-67 heading into the fourth quarter.

Australia continued to pose problems for Team USA in the fourth quarter as the Aussies sensed a potential upset. Team USA needed someone to step up, and Carmelo Anthony did once again. Anthony hit a three to give Team USA a four point lead and bring his point total up to 25.

With four minutes remaining in the game, Team USA held a seven point lead that Patty Mills cut to five with a layup. But Team USA Basketball finally had some momentum with a chance to pull away. Almost on cue, Carmelo Anthony hit another three, his ninth of the game, giving himself a team-high 31 points.

With two minutes remaining, Australia cut the lead to four. But Kyrie Irving quickly answered back with a three, as Team USA was clinging to a late lead. Up by five with 36 seconds remaining, Team USA got a much-needed stop. Kyrie Irving then split a pair of free throws to put the Americans up by six. Team USA Basketball thwarted a late comeback attempt by Australia, holding to win 98-88.

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This was by far the toughest test Team USA Basketball has faced thus far. The Australians, to their credit, nearly knocked off Team USA Basketball in what would have been an upset. The Australians pushed Team USA all night long, but the Americans managed to hold on and move to 3-0 in Rio.

Team USA Basketball will face Serbia on Friday.