This was the Americans best game of the exhibition season. Spain got out to an early lead because the U.S.'s weak-side defense was poor. Serge Ibaka got easy scores at the rim early. But Carmelo Anthony, who came off the bench, was the reason why the Americans took an 8 point lead into halftime.
Carmelo ended with 27 points, the vast majority in the first half. He is a player with an uncommon ability to make tough shots. He is incredibly strong and yet, possesses the agility of a guard. His sweet stroke and underrated athleticism complement his offensive arsenal. Anthony's only true offensive weakness is decision-making, but when he is on fire, a group of first team all-defensive teamers can't stop him.
The second half showed the heights that this U.S. team can reach. The ball movement was exquisite. They probed the taller Spanish defense as would a world renowned surgeon. Kevin Durant, whose passing has improved greatly over the past season, and LeBron James (25 points, 7 assists) deserve special mention for their great passes. Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul were pretty spectacular as well.
After extending the lead to 20 in the third, Spain switched to a zone. Russell Westbrook came in and hogged the ball, stalling the offense. But Westbrook's steal-inducing defense continues to deserve praise. Spain cut the lead dramatically, but the Americans' first team came in in the fourth and closed the show with a 100-78 victory.
I was surprised to see the statistic that the U.S. hasn't fared well when Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, and Anthony Davis are all not in the game. I think the reason is because they are willing to do the dirty work: clog up the lane on defense and rebound. When Carmelo, LeBron, and Durant are on the front line, none is particularly adept at doing the little garbage (spoken with the utmost affection) things that Chandler, Love, and Davis provide.
I was hoping Davis would've seen significant minutes. He'll be needed against Spain, should they meet in the Olympics, to negate the Spanish size. In this game, Pau Gasol (19 points) and Ibaka (16 points) only played 24 minutes each and Marc Gasol didn't play. It would have given Davis some nice experience. But perhaps there's still some concern over an injury or Coach Krzyzewski saw something where he felt Davis wasn't ready to play bigger minutes.