9:04 am Aug. 9, 2012
The quarterfinal matchup between the United States and Australia in Olympic men's basketball, won by the U.S., 119-86, conformed pretty precisely to expectations.
This may sound like an odd point to make, but it suggests a new normal has taken hold following the absurdly impressive 156-73 win over Nigeria, and the unlikely challenge from Lithuania in a 99-94 narrow victory.
Australia provided a strong challenge to the U.S., and once again, LeBron James did what was necessary to help his team win.
This time, the player with the outstanding performance against the U.S. was Patty Mills, the former floor general of the uptempo St. Mary's college team that inspired anyone willing to stay up past midnight to watch them on ESPN. He's been primarily a reserve in the N.B.A., but he was the center of the Australian attack yesterday, with 26 points.
The Australians determined, with good cause, that waiting even a moment for the U.S. defense to settle in would be catastrophic on any possession. The result was a kind of constant fast break, regardless of how Australia regained possession. And after falling behind to the U.S., 56-42, at halftime, Australia rattled off 11 straight points to begin the third quarter. The score stood 56-53, and the crowd felt like many an N.C.A.A. tournament massing, pulling for the underdog who was managing to keep it interesting.
But like most of those N.C.A.A. upset bids, this one fell well short, too. Mills wasn't enough, since his playmaking isn't remotely the equal of James'. Neither was his supporting cast. James posted a triple-double, and Kobe Bryant, scoreless halfway through the third quarter, finished with 20 points.
The U.S. ultimately didn't do much of anything partiularly well on Wednesday. Their defensive effort was intermittent. They only shot 45 percent from the field. They missed ten free throws.
But Australia merely played well, and that wasn't good enough.
Argentina will take their third shot at this exacta on Friday. The winner is guaranteed a spot in the finals, and therefore a medal.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
Jose Reyes greeted his former team with a home run and the night went downhill from there for the Mets, in a 13-0 loss to the Marlins. Fans spent the evening booing Reyes for choosing the Marlins' offer over the Mets' lack of an offer.
After nearly blowing a 7-0 lead, the Yankees rallied for a 12-8 win over the Tigers.
Terrell Thomas provided a 3- to 8-week timetable for his return. That's roughly the difference between the opener and Week 5.
David Carr is not going to become a Tim Tebow for the Giants, it appears.
Mark Sanchez is supposedly bigger, stronger, faster.
The Red Bulls signed Luis Robles Wednesday, giving them four goalkeepers on the roster.