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Missing the Point

In his World Championships diary over at Philly.com, Andre Iguodala talked about his one job in yesterday's win over Brazil, "make it tough on [Leandro] Barbosa to score." Iguodala took his job seriously, attempting only one shot in 29 minutes of work, and the results were excellent, though not everyone realizes it.

The AP's article on the game includes these paragraphs:

Nowhere was the difference between this team and its predecessor more apparent than in the matchup with Barbosa. When the teams last met, in their 2007 Olympic qualifier, Barbosa entered as the tournament's leading scorer before Bryant led a defensive effort that held him to four points on 1-of-7 shooting in an easy U.S. win.

There's no defenders like Bryant here, and Barbosa took advantage in the first quarter by making two 3-pointers and scoring eight points. Brazil made 12 of its first 16 shots in the period and its first four 3-pointers, streaks that were snapped when Barbosa was just short on a half-court heave at the buzzer, leaving them with a 28-22 lead.

Iguodala was on the bench when Barbosa hit those two threes, but that isn't even the point. That quote says the reason this game was close was the poor defense being played on Barbosa. For the game, Barbosa scored 14 points on 18 shots (take away that stretch in the first when Iguodala was on the bench, and he scored 8 points on 15 shots). The lightning-quick guard went to the line only twice in 36 minutes of action, and 13 of his 18 shots were three-point attempts (of which he only hit three). Iguodala forced their most-dangerous player to settle for bad shots, and plenty of them.

The defense on Barbosa is probably the reason they won this game, not the fault that kept the game close. The rest of the Brazilian team shot 22/46 and scored 54 points on those 46 shots.

A few more quotes from Iguodala's diary:

"I feel like I can fit into any system no matter who I'm playing with. With this group, I feel like I go out there and try to shut down whoever their top scorer is."

I think, in the past, USA teams, if they aren't scoring baskets then they're struggling on the defensive end and that's how we had those three losses that we had. I think tonight we just continued to stick with it. We showed some character as far as if we're not scoring, we're going to pull it out on the defensive end and get stops as well.

Hopefully, Iguodala will be able to bring that mindset back to Philadelphia with him in October, and spread it throughout the rest of the young roster.