Venezuela 45 – 80 Team USA
Harrison Barnes: 4p / 0r / 1a
A disappointing game for the United States, who slowly outscored Venezuela without producing a single highlight through the first thirty-eight minutes, and then celebrated two open dunks. For eight long hours, I was lulled to sleep by a bizarro zombie Warriors team kicking the ball out over and over for long misses. This eternity was punctuated by DeAndre Jordan occasionally dunking with both hands, and DeMarcus Cousins committing his five hundredth travel.
I also suffered through a decade-long, detectably fascioid interview that linked parading the bestest basketball team and the very bestestest military as a single, unified point of national self-worth. Death is too kind an escape from certain kinds of lives, including the kind I endured while watching this game. Oh, the things I do for you.
Speaking of wanting to die, how did Harrison Barnes do?
Lowlight: [USA 29-18] Barnes Free Throw 1 of 2 (1 PT) 02:21
Venezuela is one tough, crafty team in the half-court. They grind hard on both ends, a Memphis Grizzlies clone in desperate miniature. And dammit, they kept Team USA from ever really getting things going. By any definition, continuing to launch threes until you finish 4-of-25 as a country embodies insanity, and despite a 25-rebound advantage, the Team USA couldn’t seem to buy a clean finish inside either.
[USA 30-18] Barnes Free Throw 2 of 2 (2 PTS) 02:21
It’s against this frustrating backdrop that Carmelo drew an extra confused defender in transition. Barnes cut towards the basket, but seemingly without realizing it: he only looked back for a pass at the final possible moment. By then he was directly under the basket, while somehow facing away from it.
He panicked a bit, spun back towards the defense like some desperate whirling dervish, and glanced the ball off the bottom of the rim. The referee reacted with dull compassion, and you’ll be pleased to know that Harrison made both his free throws.
Without the ball, Barnes always seems to have his hands down, unprepared for a pass. And with the ball, he always appears rushed, further muddling his footwork. So in the fourth quarter, I wasn’t surprised when he drove left and finished awkwardly off the wrong foot. And it made sense for him to airball an open pull-up jumper: he’s still learning to create for himself.
But to fuck up an assisted layup like that was really discouraging.
Highlight: [USA 71-41] Green Layup Shot: Made (3 PTS) Assist: Barnes (1 AST) 03:24
Coming into this game, Barnes had not thrown an assist in 45:37 of exhibition play, despite unquestionably being the worst player on a team otherwise packed with All-Stars. For Harrison to vaguely merit his max contract, he’ll have to do a bit of creating for the Mavericks, and tonight, there were promising glimpses. He sent a lob pass five feet over DeMarcus Cousin’s head in transition. He threw an outlet pass directly to Venezuelan guard Gregory Vargas. But he couldn’t quite break through and record his first assist as an Olympian.
And then, it happened.
Barnes threw a perfect entry pass to Draymond Green, who was posting up just inside the three-point line. Draymond dribbled, dribbled, dribbled again, and spun. Five seconds and twenty feet later, he laid the ball in with his left hand.
Assist: Harrison Barnes. The crowd went wild!
Harrison’s pass was so good, the scorekeeper was still thinking about it after Draymond’s extended passage through all that time and space. If he can throw perfect entry passes like that consistently, and then stay the hell out of the way for the next five to ten seconds until Nowitzki scores, Barnes might average a double-double after all.
Can you say All-Star?
Harrison Barnes looks to eviscerate Team Nigeria this Monday at 7 pm central.