Basketball competition at the Olympics officially got underway and former Kentucky basketball player Anthony Davis has scored his first Olympic points. Team USA defeated France with a final score of 98-71. In the first game of the preliminary round, Team USA got off to a strong start against France while First Lady Michelle Obama looked on. Make no mistake, basketball tickets are going to be tough to get during the London Games.
Both teams played a tight first quarter with the USA taking a 22-21 lead against France at the end of the one quarter.
At the half, USA led 52-36 after going on a 17-6 run to close out the half. Of all the players, Anthony Davis was the only member of the USA team to have not played a single minute during the first half. Despite having been named as the NBA’s 6th Man of the Year, James Harden has become the 11th man off the bench as Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers described during the halftime show on the NBC Sports Network.
The 3rd quarter was all Team USA. Team USA finished the quarter with a 78-51 lead, their largest lead of the game Davis did not see any action during the quarter.
But the 3rd and 4th quarters were all Team USA. With 8 minutes remaining in the game, Coach Mike Krzyzewski sent in Anthony Davis, who would go on to score his first Olympic basket with 4:54 remaining in the game. It came on his second attempt as he had missed a lob to the basket only moments before. With 35.9 seconds remaining, Davis went for a dunk but got fouled by Boris Diaw. Davis would make the second shot of his two free throw attempts.
After the game, Davis would get a hug from the First Lady.
“He’s just fine,” guard Kobe Bryant said about Davis blending in with the squad. “I took him under my wings. Everywhere I go, he goes. He has a lot of talent, a lot of potential. I’m excited to see him grow.”
The US forced France to turn the ball over 11 times in the first half. France was in serious foul trouble with 3 players having 2 or more fouls although the US was in just as serious foul trouble with 7 players with 2 or more fouls. Both Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony picked up 3 fouls a piece in the first half.
In international competition, the court is 3 feet shorter than the traditional 94 feet that the NBA and college basketball uses. Similarly, another difference in the rules is that a player can take the ball off of the iron and not be called for basket interference. There’s talk that this could find it’s way over to the NBA but that’s what it is for now.
Another difference is the lack of the defensive 3 seconds in FIBA competition. Between college, NBA, and FIBA, there are so many different rules that it makes it hard when complaining about officiating!
Pressure defense, defending the 3 point line, picking up defensive rebounds, and their bench depth were the keys to winning the game according to Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins, who is in London doing game analysis for NBC Sports.
If David Stern gets his way, the NBA will only allow players under 23 to play at the games in Rio in 2016. This means that Anthony Davis, in all likelihood, would be the only Olympic veteran playing for Team USA. Most players, and I imagine fans as well, are against that idea.
All Team USA basketball games will be televised live in the NBC Sports Network. The next game for the US team is on Tuesday at 5:15 PM against Tunisia.