For an explanation of the "Inside the Box Score" posts go here.
Lithuania/Iran: I watched the majority of this one and was struck by 2 things:
1. It reminded me of USA/China in the sense that the Iranians kept it close through one quarter and then got blown out from that point on, particularly in the second quarter when the Lithuanians ripped off a 31-14 run.
2. Linas Kleiza has a mean streak. Trust me on this one.
On to the box score. Lithuania was significantly better in turnovers (16 to 23), steals (18 to 6), and field goal percentage (57% to 31%). Not surprisingly the Lithuanians ended up with a 32-point victory. Although I will say this, Hamed Ehadadi (21 points, 9 rebounds) played hard, even if he had 8 turnovers. That's a lot. Bonus points because it seemed like Ehadadi sweat so much that the red numbers on the back of his jersey smudged. You be the judge:
Hamed Ehadid - Smudged Shirt?
Croatia/Russia: Zoran Planinic of ridiculous shot fame and Marko Popovic combined for an impressive 42 points. Factor in Stanko Barac's 12 points and that's the bulk of Croatia's final score. Turnovers, steals, and rebounds were roughly a wash. And while the Russians had an advantage in assists (18-11) and a slight edge in 3-pointers made, there was a substantial discrepancy from the free throw line. Croatia was 25 of 29 from the charity stripe, while Russia was 14 of 19. In the end there's a lot more to it than that, but the Russian squad will most likely think about the free throw line when it contemplates that 85-78 final.
Greece/Germany: Greece's 87-64 victory is a prime example of why I love basketball. Germany sent out Dirk Nowitzki, one of the best players on the planet, and could not stay within 20 points of a well rounded Greek squad. And in going through the box score only one stat stood out above the rest - % percentage. Granted I was surprised to see the Greeks win the battle of the boards (33-26). Furthermore, I did not expect Nowitzki and Kaman to combine for 6 less points than the 23 Vasileios Spanoulis dropped, after they scored 42 against Angola. But 19 of 53 from the field (36%) is bad. Maybe the Germans were cold. I'm not entirely sure. That's one of the problems with these "Inside the Box Score" posts. However, I'm willing to bet that Octopus Man (Dimitrios Diamantidis) and company had a lot to do with it. The Greeks play D. Bonus points because it as a nice bounce back victory after the opening loss to Spain.
Spain/China: It is decidely uncool that this is the only game from day 2 that does not have the rewind option. If any game deserves more than a cursory glance through the box score, it is this one. Still several aspects stood out:
1. Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon, and Jorge Garbajosa combined for 3 points. Ouch.
2. On the flip side Pau Gasol dropped 29 points to remind everyone he can play and Rudy Fernandez threw in 21. They also grabbed 8 boards apiece. Not too shabby. As a side note, good time to be a Trail Blazer fan.
3. Yao struggled mightily from the field (4 of 12) and fouled out, which could not have helped the Chinese cause.
4. Wang Zhizhi scored 15, in 20 minutes of time no less, which for some reason made me happy.
5. Contrast that to Yi Jianlian's 5 points in close to 38 minutes of time. Given his health, height, and skill set that's embarrassing. To be fair he only had 4 shots and I respect the 9 rebounds. But he's got to get it going if China is going to make the leap.
USA/Angola: Carlos Morais did his best Hamed Ehadadi impression by working hard, scoring a bunch of points (24), and committing an outrageous amount of turnovers (10) against a far more talented team. Meanwhile, you can put me in the group of people who forgot just how good a healthy Dwyane Wade is. Maybe it's because that 2006 Finals didn't sit right due to some calls down the stretch. But man Wade can play. He's kicking off a mission that will carry right through the 2009 NBA season when he launches a scoring assault on 29 other teams. I hope Michael Beasley doesn't have any illusions about who's team Miami is. But back to the game. Once again it's easy to reflect on a relatively easy American victory with some skepticism due to Team USA's efforts from beyond the arc (5 of 21) and from the free throw line (16 of 25). Not cool.
Argentina/Australia: Much like Greece Argentina was looking to bounce back after an opening loss. And the Argentinians did just that with a 17-point victory. And while it may not be all that surprising that Manu Ginobili led his team in scoring (21 points), I was caught off guard by the game's leading scorer. Any guesses? My man Patrick MIlls led the way with 22 points in 24 minutes of time. He turned 20 yesterday! That's it. I'm watching at least 3 St. Mary's games next year. Other than that Argentina's 3-point shooting advantage (11 of 22 to Australia's 2 of 13) and rebounding edge (37-29) were noticeable as well.