by Devon Jeffreys, July 25, 2012
Next stop: London.
Deron Williams and the USA Men's Basketball Senior National Team completed a five-game sweep of pre-Olympic tune-ups on Tuesday night in Barcelona by beating host Spain, 100-78 at Palau Sant Jordi. D-Will finished the game with four points, two assists and a rebound in 18 minutes.
"It was a good team win, that's what's most important, coming together as a team and getting a victory," Deron said after the game.
As has been the case often in their exhibition matchups, Team USA got off to a slow start against Spain, allowing the home team to jump out to a 22-13 edge in the first eight minutes of the game.
D-Will came into the game with just over four minutes remaining in the first and asserted himself shortly thereafter, making his only bucket of the game on a drive through the lane between two of Spain's big men. Deron drew a foul on the drive and hit the deck, but not before tossing up a shot that found the bottom of the net. His subsequent free throw cut Spain's advantage to six.
Moments later, No. 8 drew a foul on a three-point attempt and sank one of his three free throws, trimming Team USA's deficit to three. By the end of the quarter they trailed by just two points.
"It was a tough team, it's not like we're playing a bad team. We're playing a good team," D-Will said. "They have been together for years and know how to play together and you know they were missing Marc Gasol who's a big piece of their team but they still played well and it took a lot to open the game up."
From the second quarter on, Team USA controlled the game, dominating Spain with speed, aggression and fast break buckets. Once they took the lead 28-26 with less than three minutes gone by in the second, Team USA never gave it back, mounting a 17-6 run that had them up by 10 with three minutes remaining in the half. They led by as many as 13 late in the half and took an eight-point lead into the break.
"We are a smaller team, so we have to be more physical," Deron said. "We have to be aggressive and use it to our advantage because some teams are bigger than us on the inside. If we don't try to disrupt them as much as possible then we are going to have trouble with the bigger teams."
It was more of the same in the third quarter as pressure defense and fast break buckets led Team USA to open up a 21-point lead when Russell Westbrook forced a steal and finished with a fast break jam with 4:19 to go in the third. Spain cut the edge to 12 late in the third, but the Americans pushed it back to 15 at the end of the quarter.
Team USA remained aggressive through the fourth on the way to a 22-point romp over a Spanish team that is considered the biggest threat to their gold medal hopes. But even though D-Will was proud of his team's performance in the exhibition finale, he noted that they'll see a different level of competition from Spain and others when the games matter in London.
"In the second half I think we just came out and played a lot better," he said. "We know we'll get a different team if we meet them in the Olympics so this was a one-off game. It doesn't mean anything. It was a good win for us but it doesn't mean anything as far as the Olympics are concerned."
Over the five-game exhibition slate that took Team USA from Las Vegas to Washington, D.C, then overseas to Manchester and Barcelona, Deron scored 38 total points and added a team-leading 20 assists while playing 98 minutes. He hit on exactly 50 percent of his shots (14-of-28) and shot 33 percent (6-of-18) from deep. His average of 19.6 minutes per game ranks fifth on the team and his 7.6 points per contest ranks sixth.
It's off to London, where Team USA will be looking to defend their gold. Festivities begin on Friday with the Opening Ceremonies of the XXX Olympiad.
D-Will said he's excited to get to London where he hopes to take in several other sports as a spectator with his family during the Games.
"There's a lot I want to see," he said. "I want to see tennis, I want to see table tennis and want to take my daughter to see gymnastics; she wants to see that and volleyball."
Team USA won't be in action until Sunday when they take on Tony Parker and the French National Team in the first challenge of pool play. That game is slated to begin at 2:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. EDT) and can be seen on NBC Sports Network. To see a full schedule for pool play, click here.
- USA Men Take Down Spain 100-78 (USA Basketball, July 24, 2012)
- Box Score: USA vs. Spain (USA Basketball, July 24, 2012)
- Additional Quotes >> USA 100, Spain 78 (USA Basketball, July 24, 2012)
- U.S. knocks off Spain in exhibition (Associated Press, July 25, 2012)
- Team USA defies catchy description (ESPN.com, July 25, 2012)
- Five thoughts from USA-Spain (SI.com, July 24, 2012)
- USA 100, Spain* 78: Notes, Highlights, Miscellany (Ball In Europe, July 25, 2012)
- Carmelo Anthony a natural fit as spot-up shooter for Team USA (CBS Sports, July 25, 2012)