Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers did not have a particularly good game against Lithuania in the Olympics. However, LeBron James played some clutch ball and Team USA held off Lithuania 99-94. Two days after beating Nigeria by 83 points, this team came back to Earth and looked like a team that was actually beatable. No one expects Team USA to lose, but this was closer than it probably should have been.
By the numbers?
Against Nigeria, the United States shot incredibly well. We may never see another Olympic basketball game with that sort of production. However, the Lithuanians shot 59% percent from the field, while Team USA hit 44% of their shots. From behind the arc, Lithuania shot 43% while the United States only shot 30%. Kobe had a fairly poor game with six points on 1-7 shooting. Bryant missed all three shots from behind the arc and only played 20 minutes. If Team USA has a weakness, it may be intensity on defense, particularly since they play some opponents that are well below their level of ability.
Building a rotation
I imagine that it must be an interesting challenge to create a rotation with a team this talented. With the exception of the inexperienced Anthony Davis, every player on this squad is a proven star. How do you get guys into a flow while also trying to balance the minutes? If you look at the box score, it is an interesting imbalance, particularly from the standpoint of minutes. The players on this squad seem like they aren't going to get upset about their minutes, but the coaches still have to maintain a strategic rotation.
Despite the challenge of managing these stars, Team USA keeps rolling. Is there any team that can mount a serious challenge to the powerful United States? Counties like Russia, Spain and Brazil have all been mentioned as possible obstacles, but one has to wonder if these teams are being discussed just to fill the time. For now, Kobe Bryant and Team USA are still undefeated, and plenty of people would be shocked if they lost to anyone.
The author grew up in Seattle and now lives in Los Angeles, where he enjoys the rivalry between the Lakers and the Clippers, and all the drama that goes with being in the Southland. You can follow him on Twitter @tpheifer.
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- Kobe Bryant
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