Kobe Bryant, after hitting one of his six three-pointers (Getty Images)
Team USA 119, Australia 86
For all its talent, Team USA is an unorthodox crew. Only one true center, in Tyson Chandler, with his technical "center" reserve (rookie Anthony Davis) so whippet-thin that the New Orleans Hornets dealt for a traditional center in Robin Lopez to aid in his development. It's a team full of All-Stars that somehow has to get out of the All-Star game mindset: Overpassing, deference to fellow friends and stars, and taking it easy at times considering the score. It's coached by an NCAA coach that has never helmed a pro team. The group also boasts a series of combatants, as well as friends, as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have never had the warmest of relationships, to say nothing of the three Oklahoma City Thunder stars attempting to get over their loss to James' Miami Heat in the NBA Finals earlier this summer.
[Photos: Team USA goes for gold]
They adapt, though, from game to game. True to their makeup and reputation, Australia used brawn, a packed middle, and expert outside shooting to take advantage of Team USA's cold touch from the outside. It kept the contest close throughout the first half and actually began the third quarter (usually Team USA's time to pull away) with an 11-0 run. Depth, and adaptation, prevailed. Team USA just bundles its options, and decides how to beat you on the fly.
That might come back to catch coach Mike Krzyzewski's crew at some point, as Team USA attempts to defend its gold medal in the semifinal and hoped-for final-round contests on Friday and Sunday. But for now, the group is winning in waves. LeBron James (who ended with the first triple double in Team USA's history) takes over for a few possessions, or the defensive pressure turns up, or someone finds someone behind the 3-point arc on the break. Then Chris Paul rips off one of his five steals, and before you know it that manageable nine-point lead has shot up to 25.
Read More »from Behind the Box Score, where Kobe Bryant went off, and the Aussies went down