August 19, 2016, 5:21 pm
The semifinals for the men’s tournament took place today and set up a Serbia vs. USA match for the gold on Sunday afternoon. The Americans held on after a very middling first half while Serbia just obliterated Australia. It’ll be the tournament favorites against the fourth seed from Group A, so read on to see how we got there.
USA vs. Spain
Australia vs. Serbia
USA 82 vs. Spain 76
After all the hand-wringing that’s gone on, Team USA finds themselves back in the gold medal game after defeating a game Spanish team. Spain kept it close from wire to wire but never led as the Americans played some good defense and got contributions from up and down the roster to punch their ticket to the finals.
Team USA’s best was DeAndre Jordan. He totally changed the game whenever he was in there, whether he was throwing down monster jams, swatting shots or just deterring guards from getting into the paint. He finished with 9 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocks in a big day. Klay Thompson got hot again for 22 points and 4 triples while Kevin Durant posted 14 and 8 boards. Kyrie Irving scored 13 points, including some big ones in the fourth quarter and Kyle Lowry played another nice game and brought the defensive intensity that the Americans sometimes lack. Team USA reaped the benefits of the size advantage today, corralling 21 offensive rebounds whereas Spain could only pull in 14.
They did struggle to move the ball from time to time and fell back into spells of one-on-one play every now and then. Spain’s quickness on the perimeter led to a handful of steals and deflected passes early on but Team USA settled down thereafter. DeMarcus Cousins had a bad night, fouling out in the third quarter. Carmelo Anthony was just 2-11 and hasn’t looked right since his big game against Australia. The Americans will have to hope for more out of Anthony and Cousins in their final game.
Spain was led by who else but Pau Gasol, who dropped in 23 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 triples, 1 steal and 1 block on 9-19 from the field. Sergio Rodriguez had 8 points and 5 assists but was just 1-6 from deep. Aside from those two, Spain didn’t have much going on.
Nikola Mirotic was brutal, picking up four fouls in the first half. He needed to play much smarter given the lack of secondary scoring that Spain sorely needed on a day like today. Rudy Fernandez couldn’t get hot and Ricky Rubio was basically invisible once more. He was 0-4 from the field, 0-2 from the free throw line and collected 1 rebound, 1 assist and 1 steal that all came in the second half. He was outplayed by both Rodriguez and Sergio Llull for the length of his stay in Rio. He might be able to redeem himself with a strong showing in the bronze medal game but has been a complete disappointment so far.
USA Spain Points Thompson 22
Fernandez / Navarro 9
Rebounds Jordan 16
Assists Lowry / Thompson 3
Jordan / Irving / Anthony 2
Butler / Durant / George 1
- US slipped into some poor ball movement early on; turned back towards it again late
- Like the lineup of all ball handlers at the end once Jordan came out
- Cousins had some bad help defense on a Fernandez layup and then took a bad baseline jumper; fouled out in Q3 in a pretty bad showing
- Spain hanging in there; good defense and got a few nice steals
- Mirotic with a stupid game; they need him and he picks up 4 first half fouls
- lots of techs, choppy play in the first half
- Kyle Lowry is nuts- he’s going to play every game with the same personality and it’s great to see
- US with tons of offensive boards that helped keep the lead despite a pretty ‘meh’ half on both ends
- They called a travel on the fastbreak… my head is still spinning
- Lowry with another nice game off the bench; great recognition to run Mirotic around the court and blew by Rubio on another possession