|ESPN.com: Basketball||[Print without images]|
|Chris Paul will be the lone Clipper on Team USA now that Blake Griffin is out with a knee injury.|
“Guys with championship rings and MVP trophies were content to be glorified cheerleaders. They leaped from their seats on the bench in anticipation when teammates shot 3-pointers. They walked onto the court to high-five everyone who checked out of the game. They were in such unison that they even all stood up to alert the officials that a Dominican player was down on the court, injured. Every timeout brought more high-fives than the lineup introductions. "They really like one another," Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "You can see it." "The chemistry is good," LeBron James said. "It's great, honestly." Remember, one of the reasons that the gap between America and the rest of the basketball world closed was that everyone else sent together teams of grownups who had been playing together since they were teenagers, while the U.S. cobbled together squads, gave them a couple of weeks and tried to make the best of it. "When we're going overseas, we're playing against teams that have been together for a while," Kobe said. "So you have to have that chemistry and understanding of where you're going to be offensively, but especially defensively, knowing where guys are." This height-challenged U.S. roster is based on defensive pressure. They're playing up. And if they're not up, they're reminded to get up, like the time Paul picked up his man in the backcourt, motioned to his teammates to come up, then forced a steal that led to him throwing an alley-oop to Durant. Durant will wind up as the MVP of this squad -- even if he continues to come off the bench -- because of his shooting ability. When the Dominican zone defense had U.S. shooters clanking jump shots, Durant checked in and drained his first five 3-point shots. And this close group did its best to welcome the youngster Davis into the crew. When Davis was knocked to the ground while making a jump shot, none other than LeBron and Durant -- the two best players in the world -- rushed over to help him up. "KD, LeBron, Melo, Russ, Kobe, all of them clapping and cheering for me," a wide-eyed Davis said. "I'm supposed to be cheering for these guys, they're cheering for me."
I can easily get hurt playing pickup basketball in a gym somewhere. Here I'm playing with the best players in the world, have the best treatment in the world. So I feel safer here."” -- Kobe Bryant
|Nothing says fun like LeBron James putting great point guards in a headlock.|