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News » Paul, Williams form dynamic duo for Team USA 2008-07-26


Paul, Williams form dynamic duo for Team USA 2008-07-26


Paul, Williams form dynamic duo for Team USA 2008-07-26
LAS VEGAS - In the final tune-up on the home front before taking off for China, the Americans appeared every bit as dominant as The Dream Team.

Not only that, but they did it without arguably the top all-around player in the world in LeBron James.

2008 Olympic Games


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But before we get all carried away and start comparing this group to that special one back in 1984, let's understand that it won't be this easy in Beijing.

All this turned out to be is a lopsided exhibition win against a country in Canada that has made the Olympics just once since 1988.

Canada had a guy (Carl English) with a Mohawk, another in Jesse Young who looked more like a wrestler than a basketball player and also Rans Brempong — who I figured was a reggae singer when I saw him gambling in the Palms Hotel a couple nights ago.

There was no Steve Nash. There wasn't even a Samuel Dalembert.

Honestly, the AAU games played throughout the city of Las Vegas this entire week were equally as entertaining as this glorified pick-up game that wound up as a 55-point mauling.

Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony scored at will and Michael Redd displayed the perimeter shot that landed him on the team in the first place.

However, there were two interesting developments while watching the U.S. team absolutely dismantle a Canadian team whose top player was some anonymous guard named Jermaine Anderson.

First of all, Dwyane Wade can have his nickname back. In recent months, he was a heavy-legged, banged-up imposter of a superstar. Friday night, he was the smooth and explosive D-Wade that instilled fear into every opposing NBA team.

But then again, this wasn't Argentina.

Argentina remains the defending champs when the Americans get over to China. They may have lost to the United States twice in the FIBA Americas, but that was without a couple of key players.

In addition to the return of Wade, coach Mike Krzyzewski also deferred on having to choose which young point guard to utilize when Jason Kidd is out of the game.

Everyone wanted to know whether it'd be little, speedy Chris Paul or the big, stocky Kidd look-alike, Deron Williams.

Coach K tossed them both out on the court together and let them loose.

The duo combined for 25 points, 13 assists and four turnovers in nearly 44 minutes. Kidd didn't take a single shot in 16-plus minutes.

This team needs Kidd's leadership, but it also needs Kidd to keep defenses honest. Because if he can't do that and James isn't making shots from the perimeter, don't be surprised to see plenty of the Paul-Williams combo.

"Either one can bring the ball up and either one can pressure the ball," Krzyzewski said. "They seem to like to play with each other and the intensity of the team is at a higher level when those two guys are on the court at the same time."

This team certainly knows the expectations it'll deal with when it gets to Beijing.

Paul and Williams sat in the post-game news conference and listened to Canadian coach Leo Rautins call the Americans "obviously the most talented team without a question in the world."

"We know we have a lot to prove for us, the fans and our country," Williams said.

"What's special about us is that we've had a three-year commitment and we have a lot invested," Paul added.

Good riddance to guys like Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury — two core players from the 2004 Olympic team that tanked, went 5-3 and finished with a bronze medal that was among the most underachieving squads of all-time.

Most of the players on this team get it.

Team outweighs personal accomplishment. All you had to do was watch the defensive intensity when Paul and Williams took the floor to see that these two budding NBA superstars don't care about anything besides winning.

King James, who was held out for precautionary reasons with an ankle injury, has the same qualities. Ditto for Dwight Howard. In a day and age in which most young players are selfish and spoiled, this team is fortunate to possess the rare young stars that are able to put their ego aside.

It's gotta rub off on Kobe, right?

Rautins said his concern with the Americans is keeping Howard out of foul trouble — and he's right. But even with Chris Bosh or Carlos Boozer in the middle, the only one who can stop this team is themselves.

That's not going to happen. Not with this group.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: July 26, 2008

 

 
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