Durant’s Game-Saving Block Leads Team USA Past Spain

| by The Daily Heat

In a rematch of the 2008 gold medal game (minus some key characters), Team USA defeated Spain 86-85 after a Kevin Durant game-saving block to end an exciting exhibition game.

On their final possession down by one point, Spain’s guard Ricky Rubio forced up an airball as Durant stuck a hand in his face. With the seconds winding down, Spain retrieved the ball and got it back to Rudy Fernandez, who had his shot blocked by Durant at the buzzer. On the prior possession, Team USA reclaimed the lead from Spain after Derrick Rose converted two free throws with 16 seconds remaining to put his squad up one.

Early in the game, Team USA jumped out to a 16-3 lead by hitting seven of their first 10 shots. On the other end, Spain came out lethargic shooting a mere one for 10. Still, Spain never quit, eventually going on a huge run in the third quarter to cut the deficit to two and then tying the game at 80-80 with three minutes left in the game.

Most of the effort to hold off Spain was led by Durant, who finally broke out of his slump by scoring 25 points on nine for 16 shooting. When Spain took their first lead of the game late in the fourth quarter, the Americans began to noticeably run plays for Durant. The Oklahoma City Thunder star didn’t disappoint, hitting a tough baseline runner that ended up tying the game.

While this was only an exhibition game, USA’s head coach,Mike Krzyzewski had a chance to try out some interesting roster moves with the game on the line. Lakers forward Lamar Odom got the nod at center over Tyson Chandler late in the fourth. Also, Krzyzewski opted to go with the speed and athleticism of Thunder guard Russell Westbrook on defense over experienced Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups. Danny Granger, Rajon Rondo and Kevin all sat out against Spain.

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