USA White defeats USA Blue in 2015 USA Men's Basketball Showcase Game, 134-128

August 14, 2015

Las Vegas, Nevada -- The USA Men’s National Basketball Team held the culminating event of their three-day summer mini-camp with the White team defeating the Blue team, 134-128, Thursday night at the program's intra-squad Showcase Game at the Thomas and Mack Center on UNLV’s campus.

More importantly, unlike last year's game, there were no major injuries among the participants.

“Tonight is a lot different than a year ago, when we had to deal with the Paul George incident," said USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo.  "We’re thankful and grateful that we didn’t have any problems or injuries . . . it was a great week, very constructive."

Although some of the most recognizable names in the program - and the sport - such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, and Dwight Howard were conspicuous by their absence at the scrimmage, the players that did suit up certainly did not disappoint the thousands in attendance.

"We had so many guys who could not play, for a variety of reasons," said coach Mike Krzyzewski. "But even those guys, throughout the week, they were at practice, practicing throughout the week, even when they weren’t supposed to. In fact a lot of them even were shooting and going more than they were really supposed to."

The White team was led by Head Coach Tom Thibodeau and featured Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, Blake Griffin, and DeMarcus Cousins.

The Blue Team, meanwhile, was comprised of high-profile NBA stars like Kenneth Faried, DeMar DeRozan, and Rudy Gay, as well as youngsters Andre Dummond, Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes, and Elfrid Payton Jr.

Head Coach Monty Williams elected to send out Beal, DeRozan, Barnes, Faried, and Drummond as his starting five, while Coach Thibs countered with an initial quintet of Leonard, Griffin,  Cousins, Thompson, and Michael Carter-Williams.

It was interesting to note that the Warriors' Draymond Green and Thompson received the loudest applause during pregame player introductions, with Griffin’s warm reception coming in a close third.

Once the game got underway, the Wizards' Bradley Beal seemed to have a good rhythm going early, as he nailed a couple of long treys in transition.

“Oh yeah, for sure, I never back down, I never get shell-shocked when I face guys that are All-Stars, it’s the best players in the world," Beal told the DSH.  "It challenges me, to actually get better, because guys are so talented, so skilled that it kinda pushes me and motivates me to get better.”

Cousins got the crowd into it as well, most notably when he caught his own rebound off a missed short corner 3 and emphatically slammed it home.

This sequence was indicative of a couple of trends on the night, as the big man affectionately known as "Boogie" was the White team’s leading scorer, pacing the squad with 24 points and 11 rebounds. However, Cousins also shot a less-than-stellar percentage from three-point range, despite putting up treys with surprising confidence and frequency.

Fans saw something they likely never thought that they would see when Griffin surprisingly had the ball hang on the rim on a dunk attempt, leading to a DeRozan slam on the other end in transition.  Following the miscue, an apparently embarrassed Griffin could be seen giggling while discussing the play with some of his teammates.

Moments later, Barnes made his best Yasiel Puig impersonation, completing a beautiful touch baseball pass ahead to DeRozan who in turn threw a deft touch pass of his own, this one an alley-oop to Andre Drummond for a no-look reverse finish at the rim. Drummond was arguably the most impressive big on the night, as he led all scorers, tallying 27 points to go along with 16 boards in a losing effort.

Subsequent action saw two of the game’s youngest participants in Carter-Williams and Payton trading a pair of tough contested double-clutch layups on one another.

Midway through the second quarter, it was DeRozan delivering a nice look to Drummond who flushed home the finish.  Leonard answered moments later with a nice hanging finish to put the White team back up by four.

Kings’ big man Boogie Cousins showed an impressive passing touch in finding a streaking Afflalo for an uncontested jam.

It was at this point that it became readily apparent that players from both sides had taken Coach K’s cautionary words to heart, as there were virtually no defensive challenges on those offensive players attempting layups, mainly due to the grotesque injury suffered by Indiana’s Paul George in last summer’s scrimmage.

DeRozan found the cutting Drummond again for another layup, and then Barnes connected from long range to put the Blue up 51-50.

"Working alongside guys like KD, James [Harden], and Russ [Westbrook], [I] picked up on them, trying to refine my game,” said Barnes of his USA Basketball experience.

Moments later, it was DeRozan on the receiving end of an alley-oop, with Denver’s Kenneth Faried providing the assist from the top of the key.

Another highlight came when Thompson made a superbly smooth move, bringing the crowd to their feet as he went through the legs of an unsuspecting DeRozan in transition.

Orlando’s ultra-athletic combo guard, Victor Oladipo, got into the act with an acrobatic 360-degree dunk that wowed the crowd and cut the White’s lead to 67-60 at the close of the first half.

The mercurial Oladipo was seen by many as the most electrifying perimeter performer at practice this week, and Thursday night’s game was no exception, as he put up 25 points, almost all of the exciting variety.

DeRozan led all scorers at the intermission with 15-points, while Faried had surprisingly handed out the most assists, with 5 first-half helpers.

One strange note was that the names of late-minute roster additions Arron Afflalo, Amir Johnson, Terrence Jones, and Elfrid Payton were noticeably absent from the back of their jerseys.

In the second half, a Griffin one-handed, tomahawk jam off of an off-the-backboard assist from Carter-Williams got the crowd's attention.

Moments later, Green found the cutting Terrence Jones again for a nice slam off a lob pass.  The Green dish was another trend on this night as the versatile forward led all players with 10 assists.

Faried followed that play with an incredible reverse jam off an alley-oop from Payton. The combination of Cousins-to-Griffin then brought the crowd to their feet as the Clippers superstar nearly tore the rim down on an alley-oop finish.

Oladipo, Barnes, and Drummond keyed the Blue team’s rally back from what was at one point nearly a 20-point deficit. In fact, Oladipo brought the entire arena to its feet, including courtside-observer and champion boxer Floyd Mayweather, when he shook Carter-Williams off the dribble and finished with an unbelievably athletic - and contested - dunk at the rim.

The Blue Team’s rally was all for naught however, as they would ultimately come up on the short end of a 134-128 final score.

After the game, Colangelo could not help but express his optimism over the bright future of the program:
“We’ve had a lot of great players, including a lot of really good young players come into the system, so if everyone stays healthy. God willing, there aren’t any injuries. Something always happens, it seems . . . but if our guys were to stay healthy, because we’re so deep, so talented, this will be the best team we’ve ever put together, potentially. Now that all needs to come together, but the talent pool is that strong, going forward, and that’s exciting, because we’re going to have a very special team.”

For the 2016 Rio Olympics, Colangelo will announce the 12-man National Team roster after the NBA Draft in June, instead of bringing 16 or more players in for a tryout camp.

News and Notes

With no international competitions this year, many of the players were more focused on the upcoming  NBA season.  Here are some of their thoughts:

Barnes on the Warriors defending their NBA crown:
“There’s no motivation like seeing that we’re ranked fourth to win it this year. So we’ve kind of seized on that and we kind of heard the chatter this summer . . . it's a motivation factor, the fact that we win it, and then somehow we’re still picked behind the Spurs, Cleveland, and the Clippers. It’s like ‘Wow, okay. We’ll just go and do it again.'"

Rudy Gay on his role on the team and his place in the selection process:
“I’ve been a part of USA Basketball for about six, or seven, maybe five summers now, so . . . I thought I was out of the loop, got back in the loop, so it was pretty good . . . It was a non-competitive summer, so I really didn’t have to change my regimen, just getting ready for the season.”

Colangelo on the effect the program has on the NBA season:
“The camaraderie that has grown among the players, that’s an amazing thing. The relationships during the offseason, with our environment, it’s special . . . they have a head start and a jumpstart (on the rest of their teammates on their respective NBA teams) . . . so, because of this environment because of all these positives, that’s another drawing point to these practices.”

By Kweku Turkson
Reporter for

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