Team USA threatened but Carmelo Anthony powers NBA stars past Aussies
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – With the United States in danger of losing for the first time since 2006, NBA stars Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving took command Wednesday, August 10 to subdue stubborn Australia at the Rio Olympics.
The Americans outlasted the upset-minded Aussies 98-88 as Anthony scored a game-high 31 points, 14 in the fourth quarter, and Irving sank 12 of his 19 in the last period.
"At the end of the day I was in my zone," Anthony said. "My teammates found me when I was open."
Patty Mills, who led Australia with 30 points, could only admire Anthony.
"His mindset is a lot of confidence," Mills said of Anthony. "That's what killed us, him getting the ball anywhere on the floor and shooting with confidence."
The Americans improved to 3-0 at Rio and 83-1 under coach Mike Krzyzewski since a 2006 loss to Greece at the World Championships in Japan. The last US loss at the Olympics was in the 2004 semi-finals to Argentina, sparking a revamped team guided by "Coach K."
Australians are 0-19 against US squads but the full-game test posed by the "Boomers" was in many ways their finest hour on the court, although not to Aussie star Andrew Bogut.
"We're a bit disappointed. We lost," he said. "We played the greatest team in the world. We had every opportunity to win the game. That's an attitude change. We have a different feeling now and we want to keep that going."
The Aussies lost to the Americans in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic quarter-finals but have 4 NBA champion players and had talked of pulling off an upset.
"It got real. It definitely got real," said US guard Paul George. "We're probabaly going to see them again and we've got to do a better job of matching them."
At the very least, the Aussies raised confidence for every team in Rio that the US squad can be threatened and perhaps denied a third consecutive gold medal.
"This was a very very good night for us," US coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We beat a very good team and we earned that win and we will need to continue to earn our wins."
The Americans scored the first 9 points of the third quarter for a 58-54 lead and did not trail again until Joe Ingles' layup put the Boomers ahead 72-70 with 9 minutes to play.
A 10-2 US run in response featured 8 points from Anthony and produced an 80-74 edge.
"He was definitely special," George said of Anthony. "He's the reason we won tonight."
The Aussies stayed hot on the US NBA stars' heels but came no closer than 4 points after that, thanks in large part to Anthony.
"He's one of the best scorers in the world and when he gets hot its hard for anybody to stop him," Dellavedova said.
Aussies able to run with US
Bogut had 15 points for Australia and Matthew Dellavedova had 11 points and 11 assists.
"When we were able to get out and run with the lead, that's when we got that excited look," Dellavedova said.
It was a physical contest, with Draymond Green tripping Mills at one stage as he accelerated for a fast break hoop.
"I got beat up a few times," Aussie center David Andersen said.
Mills scored 15 points in the first half as the Aussies shot 68 percent in the first half, sinking 19-of-28 shots from the floor, while the Americans made only 37 percent (17-of-46).
"A few mental lapses in the last quarter but we understand what we need to do to beat a great team like the USA," Mills said. – Rappler.com