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DeRozan and Hayward

DeRozan, Drummond, Hayward, Lillard Sit As USA Decides Cuts

Team USA got their act together in the second half and rolled over Puerto Rico 112-86 at Madison Square Garden, however, the bigger story is who USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo will decide to keep from the remaining 16 players to get down to the FIBA mandated 12 man roster. It had to be tough for Raptors DeMar DeRozan, Pistons Andre Drummond, Jazz Gordon Hayward and Trail Blazers Damian Lillard to sit out knowing the preference has always been to leave for Spain on Saturday with the roster decisions already made.
 

 

Team USA started out this game flat and let guards Jose Juan Barea and Carlos Arroyo take it to them. Tied at the end of the first quarter and up by five at the half only because of a long range buzzer-beating three-pointer from Klay Thompson, Team USA didn’t look very much like the team from their first two exhibition games.

 

 

James Harden still looks decidedly uncomfortable as a starting small forward playing with two point guards. He might be the guy Coach Krzyzewski is hoping will become a leader, but Harden still hasn’t figured out how to lead without the ball in his hands. How he’s played thus far doesn’t really change much, however, Harden is a lock to be in the rotation for Team USA at the World Cup.

Kyle Korver still gets called a lock by a lot of media, but tonight’s game typifies what to expect from a specialist three-point shooter on a team loaded with more talented players. Korver was 0-0 shooting with a personal foul in just over 3 minutes in the first half and 0-1 shooting with a personal foul in just under 3 minutes in the second half. As talented a long range threat as Korver is, he doesn’t have a role on this team. The Splash Brothers have the deep threat needs covered.

Cousins may have played himself off the roster. About the only things Colangelo is going to learn about his players from these exhibition games is which ones can handle the pressure of playing for their national team and can accept the role required of them. Cousins looked decidedly flustered against Puerto Rico.

 

 

The decisions Colangelo has in front of him are not easy and the players he selects as the 11th and 12th players will not be expected to play much – if at all, but who gets those spots still sends a strong message. Those are the players Colangelo wants to get some international exposure for future Olympics and World Cups, so it matters.

Mason Plumlee and Chandler Parsons got their chance to play against Puerto Rico and join the games four DNP-CDs in a group waiting to hear who’ll be on the plane to Spain and who’ll be left behind. If they take the news the right way, it’ll be a win either way.

 

 

What applies to the Raptors DeRozan applies equally to any player invited to workout with Team USA. It’s a great experience and should make one a better player down the road no matter what Colangelo decides to do on Friday night.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 
 

Note: Team USA outscored Puerto Rico 60-39 in the second half led by Stephen Curry who added 15 points after the break for a game-high 20 points in 18.4 minutes on 6-7 shooting – best player on the court. Derrick Rose played 13.5 minutes and unless he bows out on his own, he’s on the team.

Team USA exhibition game stats can be found here.

Update: