A night that began with anticipation and excitement ended in horror as Indiana Pacers forward and USA basketball player Paul George suffered a very serious leg injury.
George was going up to block a fast break lay-up from James Harden when he fell awkwardly and his leg got caught on the bottom of the basket stanchion.
While George was hurt, the night was not a complete disaster for USA basketball.
Derrick Rose was excellent in his return to the floor, scoring six acrobatic points early and finishing the night with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting.
Although Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski and director Jerry Colangelo said no decision would be made on the roster in the coming days, a somewhat clearer picture was able to be seen through the performance on the court and the box score.
Most of the starters showed that they were locks, getting big time minutes and some big time performances. However, there were some bench standouts that played well enough to potentially challenge some of the locks and even take their roster spot.
One of those players was DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan appeared in the USA Basketball Showcase last year, but was largely ineffective. This year, however, he was the leading scorer among both squads putting up 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor. He also chipped in four rebounds and two assists.
What about the Atlanta Hawks’ players on Team USA?
Kyle Korver was rumored to be a lock according to RantSports and received plenty of playing time in the game, fueling the rumor. Korver played for the Blue team and was one of ten players who received at least 24 minutes of playing time. He played decent during his stretches, showing off his 3-point marksmanship, and finished the game with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting, 2-of-3 from deep.
While Korver’s 3-point shot was there, he struggled to do anything else on the floor as his only other tallies in the box score were two personal fouls and two turnovers.
Korver’s performance was okay, but his status with the team may come into question thanks to the performance put on by Klay Thompson.
Thompson, who lost a 3-point contest against Korver the other day after a Team USA practice session, only played 15 minutes but stuffed the stat sheet with three rebounds, one assist and one steal.
The question as to which sharpshooter will be chosen will become clearer in the coming days, but its obvious that the decision will be whether coach Krzyzewski wants a pure shooter or one who could shoot as well while also doing some other things.
The other Hawks player on Team USA’s roster is All-Star power forward Paul Millsap.
Although Korver received 24 minutes of playing time, Millsap was limited to 14 minutes of action. He struggled to get into a groove for the White team, only scoring five points on 2-of-5 shooting. He did grab three rebounds, but also turned the ball over three times.
Millsap unfortunately didn’t help his case in the game, and unless there was something extraordinary that he did in practice, his time with the USA basketball team may be coming to an end soon.
For now, however, both Korver and Millsap will continue to be in the mix as roster cuts have been postponed.
Some other standouts in the game were Bradley Beal (Wizards), Mason Plumlee (Nets) and Gordon Hayward (Jazz). They finished the game with 11 points, 10 points, and seven points, respectively.
Hayward did a nice job of filling the box score too, finishing with three rebounds and three assists. He was also noticeable bigger as he added some bulk to his 6’8″ frame.
With most of the starters of the game expected to be locks to make the roster, there will about three or four spots open to claim.
Cuts have been postponed but will surely occur before Team USA’s next game on Aug. 16, which will be against Brazil at the United Center in Chicago.
Then, the team will go to New York and play two final exhibition games in the U.S. at Madison Square Garden before concluding training camp. The first game will be against the Dominican Republic on Aug. 20 and the second game will be against Puerto Rico on Aug. 22nd – both games are at 7:00 p.m. (ET) and will be televised on ESPN2.
After that, Team USA heads out to Spain. They will have two training sessions on Aug. 24 and 25, they will play an exhibition game against Slovenia on Aug. 26.
Team USA’s first official game in FIBA World Cup play will be against Finland on Aug. 30 at 3:30 p.m. (ET).