When I first heard that the gold medal game between the United states and Spain was going to be shown at 1am this morning I had no intentions of watching it. I just figured that I would hear about who won the game the next morning just like everybody else. But it just so happened that I woke up about 2 minutes into the game and I decided to stay up and watch. And I’m glad I did! If you didn’t see this game you missed a classic. The best Olympic final ever!
The game was called very, very tightly in the first half by the crappy international refs. Within the first 3 minutes of the first quarter, LeBron James (14pts, 6 boards & 3 steals) and Kobe Bryant (20pts and 6 dimes) both picked up two fouls and Spain actually led for most of it. But Dwyane Wade (27 pts and 4 stls) came in off the bench and had the game of his life. He hit his first 7 shots – including four 3’s – and also made his presence felt on the defensive end picking up key steals as he’s done the entire Olympic tournament. But Spain was able to counter everything the US did. Portland Trailblazers guard Rudy Fernandez (22 pts), former Memphis Grizzlies PG Juan Carlos Navarro (18 pts) and Pau Gasol (21 pts and 6 boards) all played very well and kept the game from getting out of hand. Fernandez was able to make big shots and Navarro was not only able to get to the line, but he easily broke down whoever was guarding him and kept getting into the lane and putting up floater after floater. Every time the US got out to a lead and threatened to put the game away, Spain was able to fight back and keep it close. After the first half, Team USA only led by 8 pts.
In the second half, the game was still tight and even though the refs still made some questionable calls (and no calls), it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first half. At one point in the fourth quarter, Spain even cut the lead to two. But when you have a close game like that and you have the Black Mamba on your squad, there really is no need for worry. Kobe took over and showed why he is the best player in the world on the day after his 30th birthday. He had his hands in just about every play that kept Team USA in the lead including a big 4pt play to foul out Rudy Fernandez – who was killing the US – and giving the finger to the lips “shhhhsh” sign to the Spanish fans. Team USA couldn’t really relax until the very end when 17 year old Spanish PG Ricky Rubio was called for a foul on Chris Paul (13 pts and 5 dimes) and then picked up a technical foul in protest giving the USA four FT’s and the ball.
The days of the Dream Team blowouts are long gone. The world has caught up to us. Even though this USA squad won by an average margin of victory of 30 pts in their first 7 games (including a 37pt blowout of this same Spanish team), they never really had control of this one and had to fight just to get the win. And in the end, that’s what made this victory so sweet. Nothing was given, they went out there and took it! The gold is back home where it belongs. See you in London in 2012 baby!!
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