Team USA takes the top FIBA World Championships contender in Spain this afternoon at 3:00PM. They better bring a better game to the "Magic Box" than they did yesterday.
Team USA survived a 7-point first quarter and a clank filled 3 of 26 shooting performance, before putting it together in the second half and pulling away from Lithuania, 77-61. Danny Granger played a little over 10 minutes with 2 points and 4 rebounds. He was part of a unit that jump started the second half energy which would eventually lead to a 24-2 run by the U.S. team.
The lack of international experience on the roster was apparent as several players, most notably Kevin Durant, struggled early with the physical play allowed, especially near the hoop. It's not 90's Knicks vs. Pacers physical but instead a more passive-aggressive type of physical play, like you get from the annoying guy at your local gym with the little shoves and hip checks.
Another instance of adjusting to the international game, was a play missed by Russell Westbrook, who by the way really pushed the U.S. in the right direction in the second half. Offensive goal-tending is allowed and Westbrook had a put-back dunk opportunity. His timing would have him goal-tending the miss but a slight hesitation threw him off and he missed it, one of a few missed dunks by Team USA in the first half. It was like Westbrook knew he could put back the ball over the rim but his body and reflexes couldn't believe it after being conditioned to lay off that ball.
The U.S. squad overwhelmed Lithuania in the second half and hopefully learned from the game as Chris Sheridan points out. If not, Spain will likely provide a far more painful lesson this afternoon.
The game is being shown live on NBA TV at 3:00PM. Also, FIBATV.com is showing the game for free today online. Consider this an open thread if you're watching the game. I'll be in and out around that time so I always love reading what others are seeing in these games.