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Tossing up bricks

The shots didn't fall, but the U.S. found a way to win

Posted: Wednesday August 30, 2006 11:12AM; Updated: Wednesday August 30, 2006 4:01PM
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LeBron James flashed his defensive prowess when matched up with Dirk Nowitzki.
LeBron James flashed his defensive prowess when matched up with Dirk Nowitzki.
AP
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Great defense and bad jump shots. It's the American way.

Team USA routed Germany 85-65 on Wednesday, but not before a Dirk Nowitzki-led outfit gave the Americans a bit of a scare with its exacting first-half play. Dirk himself wasn't the most feared aspect of the Deutschland attack; rather, it was a zone defense that frustrated the U.S. into just 40 first-half points and a one-point halftime advantage.

Germany packed the lane defensively, which turned out to be a sound coaching decision as the U.S. missed 30 of 40 attempts from behind the arc. Coach Mike Krzyzewski's team wasn't forcing things from the perimeter; it was pointedly taking what Germany was giving it offensively, but the U.S. kept missing, and missing, and missing....

Still, Team USA's defense more than made up for its pitiful outside touch. Led by an undersized backcourt of Chris Paul and Kirk Hinrich, inspired pressure defense took Germany out of its offensive sets, rendered Nowitzki (also hampered by first-half foul trouble) useless in the half-court and kept things within chucking distance until the U.S. got its act together offensively.

Hinrich, as he has been for the duration of the tournament, was a real force on defense, pushing the German guards toward their off hands and cutting into the lane off the ball to take charges.

Paul produced three steals, the U.S. forced 24 turnovers (up from its average of 19) and Chris Bosh, once again, was an end-to-end force that opponents could not counter. Finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds and a block in only 14 minutes, Bosh managed to change shots on defense and bother the German team with his significant wingspan.

Bosh's confidence is growing with each game, which should be tremendous news to Coach K, who will need a weak-side shot-blocker against the other semifinalists, who play exceptionally well without the ball.

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