Michael Redd and Carmelo Anthony again led all scorers, this time with 22 points each. Redd shot 7-12 from the field, 4-9 on three-pointers, and 4-4 on free-throws. Redd was instrumental in Team USA’s supercharged first quarter, scoring 15 points in just 5 minutes. As a team they scored 42 points in the first quarter, exactly twice as many as they scored in the first quarter against Venezuela.
Redd’s deft outside touch is garnering him praise. Dubbing him "the missing piece," SportsIlustrated.com's Chris Mannix gushes about Redd:
“Shooters, as you may have noticed, are a valuable commodity in international competition, where zone defenses are less the exception than the rule. With teams stuffing the lane to avoid surrendering easy baskets, the perimeter is usually unguarded territory. Problem was, the United States recently didn't have anyone who could capitalize on it.NBA.com's Jeff Dengate also takes notice of Michael's "Redd Hot" play:
Enter Michael Redd. The Milwaukee Bucks' sharpshooter has not just taken advantage of the breathing room on the outside -- he's staked his claim to it early in the FIBA Americas tournament. He scored a team-leading 39 points through two games, including a 15-point flurry in a little more than five minutes during the first half against the Virgin Islands on Thursday night.”
"Yes, folks, five first-quarter minutes of Michael Redd and fans not wearing red, white and blue might as well have headed for the exits. Nothing to see here but a Team USA practice for the next 30 minutes of game clock, at the end of which the scoreboard read: ISV 59, USA 123. And for the second straight night, Redd tied Carmelo Anthony as the team's top scorer, pouring in 22 tonight."While the performances must be considered within the context that Venezuela and the Virgin Islands are two of the poorest teams in the competition, Team USA and Redd look like a match made in basketball heaven so far.
The combination of the close three-point line and the defensive attention his teammates demand means Redd's torrid shooting is likely to continue. And just as Kobe Bryant is the established and deserved starting shooting guard for Team USA this year and next, Redd is working fast to sew up the backup role.
It’s still early, but if Team USA is serious about developing a real team, they must find room for ultimate role-players Redd and Tayshaun Prince (13 rebounds in 19 minutes against the Virgin Islands) on next year’s Olympic team. I'd be more comfortable entering Beijing with Prince as the 11th or 12th man than I would be with Anthony as the starting power forward. Just as I'd be more comfortable with Redd as a backup guard than Gilbert Arenas.
Team USA next plays Canada on Saturday, August 25.