Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook compete in USA Basketball Showcase, Concluding 2010 Men’s National Team Training Camp In Las Vegas

Kevin Love scores one of his 8 pts. Love also had 7 rbds for USA Blue as Russell Westbrook looks on. Andrew D. Bernstein /NBAE/Getty Images

USA White’s 114-96 Victory Over USA Blue In USA Basketball Showcase Concludes 2010 Men’s National Team Training Camp In Las Vegas

from the USA BASKETBALL website

Las Vegas, Nev.

July 24, 2010

-- Kevin Durant Named Player of the Game With a Game-Best 28 Points --

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (July 24, 2010) –Even though a pair of forwards led each team in scoring, depth and talent at the guard position, just as it had been throughout the USA Men’s National Team’s week-long training camp in Las Vegas, was on display in the USA White’s 114-96 win over the USA Blue in the 2010 USA Basketball Showcase at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

Both teams, playing in the intra-squad scrimmage that concluded the USA National Team’s 2010 Las Vegas training camp that opened July 20, combined to shoot 29-of-51 from 3-point range, and the White’s 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) mark from behind the arc helped lead it to a 114-96 win in front of a crowd of 11,635 and an ESPN2 national broadcast.

“We had a terrific week,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “We had a great response from our players. They really worked hard. They were aggressive, and we really got a lot out of this week. (There’s) tough decisions for us going forward for us.”

The White’s Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) led all scorers with 28 points, and was named the player of the game. But five more players scored in double figures for the White squad, including Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers) with 17, Eric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers) had 16, Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) scored 15 and Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks) was credited with 13 points (6-of-6 FGs) while raking in a game best nine rebounds.

Russell "Wild Wild" Westbrook dons another mohawk for USA Basketball. Westbrook tallied 14 pts, 3 assists, 4 turnovers and 3 steals. Westbrook is hoping to make the final 12-man cut competing with the likes of Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups (lock), Derrick Rose (potential lock), and Eric Gordon for pg duties. Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein /NBAE/Getty Images

Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies) led the Blue with 23 points, while O.J. Mayo (Memphis Grizzlies) scored 18, Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) added 14 and Jeff Green (Oklahoma City Thunder) tossed in 11 points and grabbed a team best eight rebounds.

Durant shot 10-of-17 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3 for the White, which shot 55.3 percent from the field. The Blue, meanwhile, hit only 45.3 percent of its fieldgoals, and out-rebounded the White, 39-37.

In addition to his 15 points, Rose led the White with eight assists, while Iguodala added five. Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics), who scored seven points, led the Blue with six assists.

Kevin Love spots up for one of his 3 of 4 free throws. Andrew D. Bernstein /NBAE/Getty Images

“As a coaching staff, we thought it was a really good week,” aid USA Men’s National Team and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “As always, coming to Las Vegas for USA Basketball was terrific. We want to thank the fans, so many people coming out for an intra-squad game, and it being on ESPN. It was a good showcase event for these guys. They’ve done a really good job this week and we’re getting to have a personality for our basketball team right now and anxious to get down to 15 and go to New York and try and personalize the team a little bit more.”

Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) previewed the kind of game it would be when Rose found him for an open 3-pointer 40 seconds in. That started the White on a 16-7 run to open the game, a run during which Iguodala and Gordon also knocked down 3s.

The White led 22-12 after Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers) hit a 3-pointer of his own midway through the first quarter, but the Blue charged back with 3s from Gay and Mayo to pull within 29-23 at the end of the first.

The Blue would fight back to tie it at 29, though, thanks to six straight points from 7-foot forward JaVale McGee (Washington Wizards) to start the second quarter. After falling slightly behind, the Blue again deadlocked the score at 38 with 4:30 to play in the second quarter after Gay hit his third 3 of the game.

Gordon, Durant and Iguodala, though, led the White on a 18-6 run to close out the first half, giving the White a 56-44 lead at the break.

Durant perhaps sealed his player of the game honor in the first four minutes of the third quarter, scoring 10 points in that span. When Granger hit a bucket with 4:35 left in the third, the White’s lead had expanded to 74-59, and they appeared to have the game well in hand.

“We have so many great guys on this team,” Durant said. “We have three or four point guards, two or three wings and couple of bigs, so you can play hard for three minutes straight, and then somebody is going to come in and get you and play the same way. I think that’s what unique about this team.”

The Blue, however, refused to surrender.

Gay and Mayo scored on back-to-back possessions to end the third quarter, then Mayo hit a 3 and Westbrook cruised to a fast-break layup off a steal to start the fourth and the Blue had closed within nine points, 83-74, with nine minutes still to play.

“I think this game was definitely a test for us,” Gay said. “That’s what we scrimmage for. We came out here and we tested to see exactly where we need to be. Personally, I think – I can always get better – but I think I did pretty good out there.”

Chandler, though, scored eight of his points in a five-minute stretch in the fourth to buffer the Blue’s lead 99-84 and the White never threatened the outcome again.
Four of the White squad’s players made at least two 3-pointers, including Curry, who shot 3-of-7, Iguodala (3-of-3), Durant (2-of-3), and Gordon (4-of-7). Meanwhile, Gay shot 3-of-4 from 3-point range to lead the Blue, while Mayo made 3-of-6 tries.

Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings) did not play after suffering a right ankle injury during training camp.

The 2010 Showcase ended a week of training in Las Vegas for the Men’s National Team, which will compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey from Aug. 28 to Sept. 12. While 19 players participated in the Las Vegas training, the USA official roster for Turkey will number 12. After a short break, finalists for the USA team will reconvene for training in New York City from Aug. 9-16.


Kevin Durant Dazzles, Tough Cuts Loom for Team USA Basketball

by Chris Tomasson
Senior NBA Writer
The Fan House
7/25/2010 3:15 AM ET

Kevin Durant won the player of the game award in the USA Basketball Showcase.
LAS VEGAS -- If Andre Iguodala had returned a compliment to coach Mike Krzyzewski, perhaps he really would be a lock for Team USA.

Then again, it looks as if the Philadelphia swingman is a lock anyhow. His stellar play in the USA Basketball Showcase at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday night caused the Team USA coach to get a bit giddy after the White beat the Blue 114-96 in the intrasquad game that concluded a five-day training camp.

"Andre just had a great week,'' Krzyzewski said of his play on the team preparing for next month's World Championship in Turkey. "I told him right after (Saturday's) game out on the court I thought he was beautifully efficient. I'm not sure anybody's called him beautiful. I know nobody has ever called me beautiful. So I was looking actually for a return on him, saying, 'Coach, you look beautiful.' ... Andre, he can defend. You need guys out there who don't have to touch the ball. ... (Iguodala is) one of the key guys for our basketball team.''

Iguodala's filling up of the box score was indeed a thing of beauty for the White. He shot 5 of 6 from the field and totaled 17 points, six rebounds and five assists in 24 minutes.

Yes, the leading scorer for the White and for the game was Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, who had 28 points. But Durant, named the game's Most Valuable Player, already was a lock for the team regardless of whether he returns compliments to Krzyzewski.

Kevin Love takes photo with "real" USA heroes. Andrew D. Bernstein /NBAE/Getty Images

Saturday's game was about guys on the bubble. There were 19 players in camp competing to make the final 12-man roster, and USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said the number will be cut to 15 by Monday in preparation for the Aug. 10-16 camp in New York.

Colangelo told FanHouse after the game that Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans being cut is "pretty obvious.'' Evans, who missed the final three practices and Saturday's game due to a sprained left ankle, had told FanHouse on Friday he didn't expect to survive the cut, and Colangelo had pretty much agreed with that.

"It was a bad break for him,'' Colangelo said. "He's a terrific kid. He's certainly part of our group and our team. We'll be looking at him down the road (in future summers) in all probability.''

So that brings it down to 18, with three more players still to be axed. In addition to Iguodala, it was perimeter guys who really helped themselves Saturday.

Memphis forward Rudy Gay, who pretty much was a lock anyway, led the Blue with 23 points. His Grizzlies teammate, guard O.J. Mayo, who needed to show more, did that with 18 points and seven rebounds for the Blue.

On the White, Chicago's Derrick Rose showed he might be the starting point guard on this outfit, having a magnificent outing for the White with 15 points, eight assists, five steals and no turnovers. Denver's Chauncey Billups, already a lock, started at shooting guard for the Blue and might actually end up playing more there.

"I thought Derrick played a beautiful game,'' said Krzyzewski, showing that Iguodala wasn't the only guy worthy of that description.

Also playing well for the White was the Clippers' Eric Gordon, who has been on the bubble due to the glut at point guard and being undersized for a shooting guard at 6-foot-3. But Gordon sure shot it well Saturday, going 4-of-7 on three-pointers and scoring 16 points.

"He played extremely well and shot the ball well,'' Colangelo said. "He's a terrific young guard.''

Still, Gordon is by no means a lock. It's doubtful both he and Golden State guard Stephen Curry (14 points for the White) both end up making the team since they duplicate each other, being shooters who aren't true point guards.

Some other players who might now be in trouble to be cut include Indiana forward Danny Granger (five points and five fouls for the White), Charlotte forward Gerald Wallace (four points and no rebounds for the White), Oklahoma City forward Jeff Green (11 points and eight rebounds but just 5-of-13 shooting for the Blue) and either Washington center JaVale McGee or New Jersey center Brook Lopez.

Colangelo said on Friday he expected to take all three centers to New York, but backed off that prediction Saturday.

"It's not necessarily the case (anymore),'' Colangelo said.

Charlotte center Tyson Chandler has secured a berth, likely all the way to Turkey. He shot 6-of-6 for 13 points and had nine rebounds and four blocks in just 20 minutes for the White.

"I'm absolutely pleased with Tyson,'' said Krzyzewski, who actually didn't call his play beautiful. "He hadn't played for a while (due to injuries the past couple of seasons to his ankle). ... To see him respond in a short period of time like that was very, very encouraging to me.''

But it appears there is an argument that taking all three centers could keep somebody else from getting a longer look. In the biggest jeopardy among centers is McGee, even if he said, "I think I've got a good chance'' to make it to New York. McGee, who had seven points and three rebounds in nine minutes for the Blue, is still very raw.

"We have to try to project who fits and who doesn't. ... We'll talk (late Saturday night) and we'll continue (Sunday). By Monday, we'll have (cuts) done."
-- Jerry Colangelo Lopez was brutal Saturday, totaling two points and no rebounds for the Blue, but he would provide insurance in the low post if Chandler gets hurt, and Team USA officials are aware he's still working himself back in shape after a recent bout with mono.

"We have to try to project who fits and who doesn't,'' said Colangelo, who sat at midcourt during the game with Krzyzewski and assistant Jim Boeheim. "(Deliberations) are ongoing. We were talking during the game -- Jimmy, Coach K and myself. We were talking after the game. We'll talk (late Saturday night) and we'll continue (Sunday). By Monday, we'll have (cuts) done.''

The Americans are trying to put together a team on the fly after all the 2008 Olympians bowed out earlier this summer. One of those Olympians, Utah guard Deron Williams, watched from a courtside seat. He's confident Team USA can get it done in Turkey.

"It's good to be here,'' Williams said. "I like it here. It's a good team once again. We got a lot of young talent.''

Heading the youngsters is Durant.

"We did as much as we can,'' Durant said of the week of camp. "It's all up to the coaches. I think that everybody did a really good job of showing what they can do and making the coaches make a tough decision.''

At least Durant doesn't have to sweat it out until Monday. Krzyzewski has known for a while his play is beautiful.

For more on USA BASKETBALL, visit the official site, link.

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