Here are the starting lineups for the USA Select team scrimmage from the Thomas And Mack Center in Las Vegas:
Guard, Damian Lillard; Guard, Dion Waiters; Forward, Gordon Hayward; Forward, Anthony Davis; Center, Greg Monroe; Coach, Tom Thibideau
Bench: Harrison Barnes, John Wall, Klay Thompson, DeMar DeRozan, Kemba Walker, Derrick Favors,
Guard, Kyrie Irving; Guard, Jrue Holiday; Guard, Paul George; Forward Kenneth Faried; Center, DeAndre Jordan; Coach, Monty Williams
Bench: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ryan Anderson, Tyler Zeller, Mike Conley, DeAndre Jordan, Ty Lawson, Chandler Parsons, Andre Drummond
Editors Note: I am going to preface this by saying that it’s been impossible to find a box score for this game to give you a complete list of the benches for each team. Running diary format tonight.
1st Quarter: Waiters clanks a jumper from the right elbow to start the game, a couple plays later, attempts to drive the lane on the break, misses Anthony Davis under the bucket for an easy layup and gets his stuff sent into the third row by Kenneth Faried. After clanking another jumper, Waiters gets a great outlet pass from Monroe for an easy dunk. Dion certainly feels like he belongs, but he starts out 1-4. Lillard picks Kyrie’s pocket and gets another layup for Blue. 8-0 lead early for Blue off four White turnovers. Timeout, White.
Kyrie swishes a three, and Lillard counters with a three in DeAndre Jordan’s face on a switch. K.I. goes after Lillard on the other end gets an and-1 on the drive. Lillard takes a bad jumper that he clanks, but two plays later, Kyrie sticks to a screen like bubble gum on flypaper and Lillard gets a twisting layup. That looked a little too familiar. Meanwhile Dion has his shot blocked obliterated for the third time in six minutes. Irving gets another layup going away from the screen on the pick and roll. It’s safe to say that for both Lillard and Irving, their offense is their defense.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis just hit his second 22-footer. Kenneth Faried is all over the boards, and crushes another feed from Lawson… The first set of subs go in and the Cavs hit the pine… and Davis just went coast to coast and threw down a nasty dunk. Holy crap, that guy is going to be amazing. Blue is definitely playing better defense, getting their hands in a lot of passing lanes and getting a lot of turnovers. After some sloppy play at the end of the quarter, and some more nice plays by Davis, the score is 30-23, Blue.
2nd Quarter: Dion and Kyrie are back in, and Kyrie is definitely more engaged on defense against Lillard now… Waiters bricks another three, and then another. I believe he’s 1-8. Despite Kyrie’s D, Lillard just beat him like a drum, but missed the layup.
Tyler Zeller in for team White. And, oh my god, Irving just split the PR, with a double crossover and then converted high off the glass, plus the foul. We missed you, Kyrie. Waiters gets matched up guarding Ryan Anderson in the post, and makes a very nice play against the mismatch with a deflection out of bounds. Irving misses a layup, but after Jrue Holiday o-board, swishes a three from the left corner. On the other end of the floor, Tyler Zeller fumbles away a defensive rebound. That was inauspicious.
Yowzah! Kidd-Gilchrist with a crushing two hand slam off the left to right drive. He’s so much better when he doesn’t have to try to score. Zeller redeems himself with a pair of nice plays, first he slips to the basket on a pick and roll for a lefty lay-in, and then plays some good defense on Monroe, forcing a miss and grabbing the rebound. Then, of course, Anthony Davis beats Zeller to the rim to flush a lob, and John Wall scores over Dion on the next play, followed by a Zeller 3 point brick out of a pick and pop. Fortunately, Tyler picks up a steal the next time down.
WHOA! John Wall ends the half by jumping over two guys to get a slam on the rebound. It’s 53-51, White at halftime. Kyrie finishes with 16 points in the first 24 minutes.
3rd Quarter: Waiters ignores the post pass and pulls up for three, swishing it. He was due. Then Waiters two hand shoves Jrue Holiday to the floor before running through a baseline screen. He doesn’t get called for it, but he draws a groan from the crowd. I like to see him competing, though. Irving cuts to the basket for a floating two off an inbounds under the basket. Then Dion takes an awful step back jumper with Holiday in his face, and draws nothing but glass. Kyrie collects the rebound and lasers ahead to Holiday for an easy deuce. Yikes, Dion.
Lillard with a nice steal in the back court. He feeds Monroe for a layup, and then Anthony Davis hits another 20 footer. Dion feeds a trailing Davis on the break for a finger roll, and then Kyrie hits Faried for another deuce, rewarding Kenneth for running the floor. Then, of course, Davis cans another J. Pencil in The Unibrow as a top 20 pick on your fantasy basketball team.
K.I. and Dion head to the bench, and John Wall comes in and drains a corner three. I’d have to guess that Wall is one of Dion’s top competitors for making the squad. The quarter ends, 89-79, White.
4th Quarter: Harrison Barnes! out of the dead ball with a nasty left hand slam. He just abused Ryan Anderson on a drive from the right wing to the left block. Harrison’s going to be a matchup nightmare for defenses off the bench as a 3/4 for Golden State. A few plays later, Kyrie forces a bounce pass in transition for a turnover, but next time down hits Holiday on a C cut out of a baseline screen with a perfect pass and Jrue hits the jumper. Team White has run that set about a half dozen times tonight, and Kyrie’s pass has been perfect each time.
Jeez. Anthony Davis again. This time on the right block with the left hand for an and-1. Irving lulls Lillard to sleep and gets to the line. Then, hesitation dribble at the top of the key, he blows by Lillard and scoop passes a beautiful lob to skying Drummond. Wow, that was pretty. Next play, on defense, Kyrie jumps a pick and roll, steals the ball from Lillard, managing to avoid falling down and then pitches ahead to a streaking white jersey for another dime. Kyrie and has been the best player in this game, with Davis a close second. All the sudden White is up 105-90, and we haven’t heard from Dion in a while.
Tyler gets to the line for two. On the next trip down, he misses a rebound and a right elbow jumper on the same play. A few plays later, Kyrie hits Tyler on the roll for soft slam. I can’t wait to see more of that in November. Kyrie competes defensively on a transition layup, and forces a miss from Wall. I like the hustle. ZPA! Nice little offensive rebound and a lefty hook.
And this game just turned into the Kyrie Irving show. He isolates on DeMar DeRozen, puts on a dribbling clinic on the right baseline, and draws two freethrows which he converts. It’s a 20 point lead for White and Kyrie hits the pine. Zeller! with a nice block from behind. He’s put together a solid second half.
With two minutes left, there are no Cavs left on the floor, and I’ve nothing to do but listen to Isaiah Thomas. Final score, 128-106, White.
Conclusions: This game was played at an intensity level that notched right between a regular season game, and an all star game. There was a good amount of defense and structure, but it seemed relaxed after watching two months of playoffs. Kyrie cemented himself as the best dribbler in the league. His handle was tight, and unlike the regular season, he forced almost nothing. His jumper, his finishing, and his passing were all in top form. Finishing with 23 points and 7 dimes, his team looked steady and in control the whole time he was on the floor. He displayed consistent defensive effort, after a poor first few minutes.
Dion, on the other hand, had a pretty rough game. He picked up two buckets for five points, and went 2-10. It’s tough to not think that as a draft pick, Dion was outplayed by Barnes, Lillard, and Drummond, who were picked behind him. Dion has to take better shots and work off the ball. His defense was just ok, and he was part of the group that was got lost in transition when White went on their run. He also got his shot blocked at the rim a lot. In a game like this, penetrate, dump it to a big, and pick up an assist, Dion. Zeller had a nice second half, especially as a roll man, and picked up 8 points and 5 boards in 14 minutes. He seemed to pick up confidence as the game went on, and started to look like he belonged out there. It was a nice sign. All in all, this was a fun midsummer Cavs fix, and it’s nice to see that Kyrie is picking up right where he left off. See you in October, Mr. Irving.