Rose and USA cannot feast on Turkey


Aug 31

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That’s why the Bulls acquired Pau Gasol and stuck with Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Doug McDermott. It’s why they also lured Nikola Mirotic over from his team in Spain and took a chance on much traveled Aaron Brooks. And also why the Bulls may not be done yet.

Derrick Rose is going to have those kinds of games like he did Sunday in USA Basketball’s 98-77 comeback victory over Turkey in the second day of pool play in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Rose finished with two points on zero for four shooting, two turnovers and zero assists in 17 minutes, sitting his usual third quarter stretch when coach Mike Krzyzewski stayed mostly with his starters after the USA trailed 40-35 at halftime.

"These games are always needed. You definitely want to go through them. But you always want to get rid of a team early," said Rose.

“These games are always needed. You definitely want to go through them. But you always want to get rid of a team early,” said Rose.

A frenetic third quarter led by Kenneth Faried with 22 points and Anthony Davis with 19 enabled the USA to nose ahead 66-60 after three and then pull away on Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving threes early in the fourth before Rose returned with the USA leading by 15.

“The first group did a hell of job with starting the energy, getting the energy going, and the bench just came up and tried to follow up behind them, and tonight we got the win,” Rose told USA Basketball media staffers after the game. “These games are always needed. You definitely want to go through them. But you always want to get rid of a team early. To compete against a team like this, they’ve been together a long time, they run their sets and play a slow game. It was a close game in the first half, and we pushed away in the third quarter thanks to the first group.”

It was a poor statistical game for Rose, though anyone who knows Rose or has watched him knows he’s as much team first as anyone can be. He was enthused on the bench and in greeting teammates in time outs. His timing clearly was awry in the first half as he seemed to be rushing passes and was short on shots. But in his initial second game in a back to back set, he didn’t show any limitations or difficulties with his health or knees. He moved quickly, albeit too quickly much of the time. His issues seemed more rust than being a wreck.

It’s truly why playing in this tournament is so important for Rose’s 2014-15 Bulls season.

Rose experienced games and quarters like Sunday’s effort last year when he returned from his ACL surgery. It was why the Bulls were hoping he would have healed more quickly the previous year and got some play in. It’s also why the Bulls were so anxious Rose play this summer with USA Basketball despite some suggesting he should be resting.

It’s clear he needs to play to work on his basketball timing so that if not getting off to an MVP start this season, Rose can move into the season with more confidence and in proper basketball rhythm.

It’s also why playing for USA Basketball is the ideal venue for that rehabilitation.

The team is deep and varied. Rose had a strong game Saturday in the win over Finland. One test is to play in the back to back. But with his basketball not sharp, coach Mike Krzyzewski was able to stay with starter Irving longer as well as Davis and Faried. Krzyzewski also went longer with Thompson as Turkey was having success playing a zone defense and the USA three-point shooting was poor in the first half.

“I thought Kenneth and Anthony in the second half played at an extremely high level and we responded to game pressure very, very well, and really played an outstanding second half and played a very poor first half, and we can’t do that going forward,” Krzyzewski said in his postgame comments. “You go with the guys that are playing well and if someone is playing well off the bench you would go with them. It just so happened that our starters really turned it on, so they got more minutes. We used a timeout to get them rest. I couldn’t afford to take guys like him (Faried) out. It would really not be a very smart thing to do. He asked to come out in the fourth quarter for a little bit, and I told him to just get a real quick rest. When someone is playing that well you keep him in, or a group’s playing well you play them. You just go with the feel of what’s going on. We expect everybody on this team to contribute and a lot of guys had that opportunity tonight, and a certain group took advantage of it and we rode them. Kyrie played a heck of a second half, and he was a key guy for us.”

It thus seems likely with the next game Tuesday against New Zealand, Rose has settled into a backup role with the starters remaining Irving, Davis, Faried, Stephen Curry and James Harden. Curry continued to shoot poorly, just four of 17 in the two games, though with five steals Sunday. Harden led with seven assists and Irving lost a wild drive that went several feet in the air above the basket in the third quarter and fell in.

Davis, the developing star from Chicago who plays for the Pelicans, made back to back highlight dunks as the USA pulled away in the fourth quarter while Faried’s hustle eventually helped overcome a smart and efficient game from Turkey, who figured to be the lone possible barrier for the USA team in the pool play. The USA should easily win the next three games and start the quarter finals in Barcelona Sept. 6.

"It’s clear he needs to play to work on his basketball timing so that if not getting off to an MVP start this season, Rose can move into the season with more confidence and in proper basketball rhythm," writes Smith of Rose.

“It’s clear he needs to play to work on his basketball timing so that if not getting off to an MVP start this season, Rose can move into the season with more confidence and in proper basketball rhythm,” writes Smith of Rose.

But Turkey, with former Bull Omer Asik getting eight rebounds and three blocks and frustrating the USA inside, displayed an effective game plan for playing the USA team. Turkey didn’t have enough high level players, though they made nine three pointers to eight for the USA. But in deploying a slower game with zone play, three point shooting and closing the middle, Turkey gave favored Spain a blueprint for defeating the USA team. The USA won the gold medal in 2010 defeating Turkey in the final game.

Spain has three NBA-level big men in new Bull Pau Gasol, his brother Marc and Thunder star Serge Ibaka. While Davis and Faried were able to get around and bother Turkey’s interior players, they seem too thin to have the same impact against Spain’s rugged interior players. The question for the USA if the teams meet, as expected in the final game, is how much the USA can depend on the erratic DeMarcus Cousins. He had 11 points and three rebounds Sunday.

“They did a terrific job of controlling the tempo,” said Krzyzewski. “Asik really protected the basket, and the tempo of the game the entire first half was dictated by Turkey. We never really attacked the way we were able to and the way we did in the second half. I think sometimes when you have a game like we did the night before where you’re just scoring at will, you can take it for granted. The big lesson for our team is you can’t take things for granted.”

The USA team was caught flatfooted and outplayed early, setting for isolation jump shots against Turkey’s zone defense. Rose first entered with the USA trailing 12-10 in the midst of a 9-0 USA run. But Rose looked away on a pass to him for a turnover and came up short on a quick three and missed a short runner as it was 16-16 after one quarter.

USA big men also were falling for pump fakes and fouling as Turkey had a plan to foul USA players on every breakout to avoid the uptempo play. It was working. Rose returned in the second quarter with the USA trailing 24-22 as the starters weren’t doing much, either. Rose did have a bullet train drive and was fouled, but later traveled as he tried a move and in holding for the last shot threw the ball away on a pick and roll play. It gave Turkey a 40-35 halftime lead. This was a USA team with a 55-game winning streak in FIBA play coming in since 2006 including exhibition games.

The USA team pushed up on defense after halftime, causing eight turnovers in the third quarter and committing one. The offense was supplied by Davis, who was making quick inside moves and followups against the tiring Turkey team. Turkey players surprisingly outhustled USA players for several loose balls early, but that began to change.

A Davis block and Faried put back gave the USA a lead and then Faried stripped Asik on a rebound and dunked the ball as the USA finally went ahead at 66-60 after three quarters and then pulled away as Krzyzewski relied on Irving, Curry and Thompson with Davis and Faried in the key stretch.

“Defensively we got into them and got a lot of turnovers, and that changed the game,” said Rose.

And they move on as does Rose. Both positives thus far.

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