NBA.com: Turkey Trimmings

NBA.com: Turkey Trimmings

Postby JSM on Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:47 pm

John Schuhmann of NBA.com wrote:Here's today's game story. Like they did against Canada, the U.S. turned up the D after the first quarter.

Against Canada, they gave up 24 points in the first quarter, and 41 points afterward.

Against Turkey, they gave up 30 points in the first quarter, and 52 points afterward.

I thought the guards gambled too much up top early on, and they got burned. They adjusted, and they got stops and turnovers.

Let me know what you guys thought.

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Some random notes from the night in Macao...

On my way down to the arena (the first time), I stopped by the gym to pick up my blackberry, which I had left in one the treadmills. When I walked in, there was Hedo Turkoglu, stretching with one of the Turkish coaches. He's on the Turkey roster, but I wasn't sure he'd be here, because I hadn't seen him all week, and I had seen just about every other Turkish player around the hotel two or three times.

When I walked into the arena (the first time), Bon Jovi's "Runaway" was playing, bringing a tear to this Jersey boy's eye. Extra points to the Cotai Arena for that greeting.

More points for other subsequent selections like "Panama" by Van Halen; "Let's Groove" & "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire; and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson.

Shortly after I found my seat courtside, I realized that I forgot my notebook, which normally would be a major issue. But here, it was only a nine-flight ride up the elevator to retrieve it. The only problem with that is that there's no AC in the elevators, so by the time I got back down, I felt like George Costanza after he ate some Kung Pao Chicken.

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But I wasn't nearly as sweaty as Michael Redd. That dude was drenched by the time he finished his pre-game shooting.

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Dwight Howard came out on to the floor to shoot around and Turkoglu called out to him from under the Turkey basket. Howard ran over and they did some sort of ritualistic hug-and-dance thing. Very touching.

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7:09 p.m. local time. Pre-game.

No. of photographers shooting Howard and Chris Bosh: approximately 25.
No. of photographers shooting Turkoglu and three other Turkish players: 0.

That doesn't include the spectators that were focused on the Americans either. That's just the professionals.

Howard was definitely a fan favorite and he gave the crowd a couple of thrills with a dunk and some dance moves.

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The other fan favorite: The Fan Patrol.

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All this Hedo talk and the MIP didn't play. He has some issue with his knee. He looked OK in warmups and was in uniform on the bench, so it doesn't look to be serious.

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Several highlights:

Dwight's block of Semih Erden on Turkey's third possession of the game. I was sitting right under that basket and Erden looked demoralized after that play.

LeBron's one-handed flush off the alley from Kobe (late second quarter).

Another lob from Kobe, this one to Dwight on the break, early in the third.

Kobe's reverse dunk midway through the third.

LeBron's dunk on the break a few possessions after Kobe's.

And finally, the highlight of the night...

Dwyane Wade going through traffic and dunking on some unsespecting Turkish player's head.

LeBron: "That move that Dwyane did basically let me know, and let the rest of the guys know, that he's back. When I say that 'he's back', him having the injuries and sitting out six months, that move is what the old Dwyane Wade did before the injuries started. It let us know that he's back to great form and the NBA better watch out next season."

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I wrote that feature on LeBron's leadership yesterday, but I saw more examples of it again tonight. At one point in the second half, his team was lining up for a free throw, and he was yelling from the bench, asking his teammates who they were guarding on the next possession.

I was sitting a few feet from the U.S. bench, and his voice is definitely the one I heard the most. And a USA Basketball staff member confirmed to me that he's just as vocal in the locker room.

Coach K: "There's no question that one of the biggest things for us is LeBron's leadership. No question about it. He's a natural and outstanding leader, and he's showing it."

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One negative: Rebounding.

Turkey had 12 offensive boards, leading to 18 second-chance points.

D-Wade: "The main thing we have to continue to get better at is rebounding. Once we do that and get our steals and play solid and rebound the ball and still know that we can get out and score the ball, we're going to be that much better."

Dwight: "The one thing we have to really focus on now is becoming a better rebounding team."
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JSM
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