The young USA team had its first tough challenge in the World Cup. They eventually pulled out the victory but they had to earn it in the second half.
Turkey took it to Team USA early and often. They slowed down the tempo and confused team USA with a matchup zone. Team USA’s defense was sloppy and they did not get any easy baskets. With a slow tempo the score was only tied at 16 at the end of the 1st.
Team USA started the 2nd quarter on a 5-0 and I expected them to take over the game. Turkey bounced back and took the lead. Team USA was playing too much 1 on 1 and Turkey was sharing the ball and knocking down three pointers. James Harden picked up three fouls before the half as he struggled to find his groove. Turkey was more aggressive, going to the line 18 times compared to only five for team USA. Team USA was sloppy with the ball, turning it over 10 times. Overall team USA could not get anything going in the 1st half and went into the half down 40-35.
The third quarter is usually when USA picks it up defensively and puts teams away. Anthony Davis was held scoreless in the 1st half but he came out strong in the 3rd quarter quickly scoring 11 points. The defense was smarter and the ball movement was better. The starters played the majority of minutes in the 3rd quarter. Team USA forced eight turnovers in the quarter which led to easy baskets. The energy of Faried was great; he finished with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. Kyrie Irving also played well in the 3rd. They were able to force turnovers and outscored Turkey 31-20 in the 3rd quarter to take a 66-60 lead into the 4th.
The 4th quarter was dominated by team USA. They outscored Turkey 32-17 and had the game in hand early in the quarter. Anthony Davis finished with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. He was very aggressive in the 2nd half, leading the attack for team USA. Stephen Curry again struggled; shooting 3-11 although he had five steals. Derrick Rose played in back to back games but after scoring 12 points against Finland he missed all four of his shots and only had two points.
Team USA really struggled to play defense without fouling in the 1st half. Turkey was able to attack and knock down open threes. They slowed down the game and forced team USA to shoot jumpers over their matchup zone. The Turkish team only had one NBA player in Omer Asik but their experience played a factor against this young USA team. The guards were not bothered early by their pressure and they controlled the tempo.
Team USA is loaded with shooters but they only shot 8-22 from beyond the arc. This team has a lot of weaknesses and they showed early. They did not give Anthony Davis the ball enough in the first half, the ball movement was non-existent and the defense was sloppy.
This game was exactly what team USA needed; they were challenged early and often. They still have a lot to learn and they need to keep their composure. They have to find a way to get Steph Curry going early and they need to make better adjustments in the 1st half.