USA 101, World 97Box Score
The USA Junior National Select Team redeemed their counterparts from last season and made up for an extremely poor performance in the third quarter to eke out a victory over Enes Kanter
and the World Select Team on Saturday at the Rose Garden in Portland.
After jumping out to a good start in the first quarter with Harrison Barnes
knocking down a couple of shots from the perimeter and Jared Sullinger
exploiting his strength against Dejan Musli
down low, the US steadily built a built a nine-point halftime lead. With Enes Kanter
not starting the game in favor of the taller Musli, the US was able to overcome the World Select Teams zone offense with solid defensive play and a mix of good and bad possessions offensively. Brandon Knight
accounted for some of the good and bad moments for the US early in the game, looking great when he was patient in the lane, but turning the ball over on a couple of occasions when he was trying to do a bit too much. Knight started out a bit erratic, but calmed down and focused on making good team plays rather than looking for his own shot. Nikola Mirotic
was solid for the World Select Team in the first half, hitting a few of catch and shoot jumpers and making a couple of savvy players inside the arc. Tristan Thompson
added a slew of dunks off the dribble which were entirely reminiscent of his highlights in practice. Couple the play of that pair with a couple of solid plays in transition from Sui Ran and a few nice hook shots by Dejan Musli
, and Rob Beveridges team was able to keep things close despite not finding a very consistent means of scoring against the USAs more athletic defenders.
It wasnt until the third quarter that the tone of the game changed noticeably. After looking excellent in the handful of minutes he played in the first half, Enes Kanter
took over the game in the third quarter. On his way to 34 points and 13 rebounds, the Kentucky-bound big man showed the outstanding feel around the basket that hes become known for. Finishing the game having played just 24 minutes, he broke Dirk Nowitzki
s 12-year old record for points in the game, on 13 for 21 from the field.
With the USA subbing their starters in and out of the game almost simultaneously, Kanter took advantage, establishing position around the rim, relentlessly attacking the glass, and using his 255-pound frame to create space to sneak shots up onto the glass from below the rim. Sparking the World Select Team to a 33-12 third quarter, Kanter not only carries his team back into the game, but put them ahead by 12 heading into the final period.
The US struggled to respond initially, finally feeling the effects of the size the World Team was able to put in the front and back of its zone. That was an area of concern all weak, but it wasnt till this point that the World Teams zone threatened to have much of an effect of the outcome of the game. With their starters on the bench, Kendall Marshall
made a valiant effort to spark the USs offense. His savvy passing accounted for a couple of Reggie Bullock
jumpers, but aside from Terrence Jones
, the US team didnt receive much scoring from its bench. Jones three point basket in the waning seconds of the third quarter proved pivotal as the US looked to mount a comeback.
Coming out with a sense of urgency from the get-go, the US team began slowly chiseling away the World Teams lead. Exchanging baskets for the first few minutes of the period, the US began to make their move. With Jared Sullinger
making a number of excellent plays around the basket, the team finally had found an answer for Kanters onslaught. Able to carve out space in the middle of the World Teams zone, Sullinger followed up a nice up and under with a key tip in that had the crowd back into the game. However, a subsequent whistle in transition sent Sullinger to the bench with his fifth foul.
Riding a wave of momentum, Harrison Barnes
and Kyrie Irving
made the key plays down the stretch to pull the US back on top. Much like he did in the McDonalds game, Barnes knocked down his shots from the perimeter, going 4-8 from three, and used his exceptional body control to hit tough shots over defenders when he got into the paint off the dribble. He and Sullinger combined for 22 points in the fourth quarter to erase the deficit. Irving, who had been struggling with his perimeter shot, had a couple of big plays, including an unexpected offensive rebound amongst the trees and an acrobatic finish off the dribble that resulted in an and-one.
With the US team picking up the pace and the World Team forced to overcome a couple of 50-50 calls against them, Kanter fought to maintain the lead, but it wasnt enough. An exciting game that featured great intensity from both sides down the stretch, the US had more options down the stretch and outscored the World Select Team by 16 points in the fourth quarter.