RIO DE JANEIRO – Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau is known for standing on the sideline, yelling defensive instructions to his players on every trip down the floor. Wednesday, he did some yelling, but his role with USA basketball requires him to sit and allow head coach Mike Krzyzewski to do the standing, the yelling, the gesticulating.
“I’m well-rested,” Thibodeau said with a smile. “Last year off, seated during games …”
Kryzewski wound up sitting, too, during much of the second half of the Americans’ 113-69 victory over Venezuela in pool play at the Rio Olympics.
The U.S. improved to 2-0 with two blowouts, but the score was 18-18 at the end of one quarter.
Venezuela committed fouls to slow the pace of play, and the U.S. and starting center DeMarcus Cousins in particular fouled frequently.
Thibodeau coached Jimmy Butler with the Chicago Bulls, and it was Butler who helped lift the U.S. in the second quarter. Butler finished with 17 points, was a team-best plus-29 and hit four of seven shots and had a steal. He also made all eight of his free throws.
Butler praised Thibodeau last week, saying he enjoyed again hearing Thibodeau’s raspy instructions.
“I thought Jimmy came in and gave us a lift, he started attacking and then we started going to the line,” Thibodeau said. “That was huge.
“It’s great to see the way Jimmy played. Just watching him and knowing him and how much he’s grown each year, and to know the work that he’s put into it, he belongs here. He’s one of the elite players in our league. I’m proud of him. He’s as good as it gets on both sides of the ball.”
Carmelo Anthony just keeps moving up the Team USA record charts.
With his three-pointer from the left wing at the 2:34 mark of the second quarter in Monday’s victory, the New York Knicks star forward surpassed Michael Jordan for third place on the USA’s all-time Olympics scoring list.
Anthony, whose decision to take part in these Games made him the first four-time men’s basketball Olympian, finished with 14 points and thus eclipsed Jordan by two points, with 258.
LeBron James, who is sitting out Rio, has the record of 273 points. David Robinson is second at 270. Anthony could take the lead as early as Wednesday, when the Americans expect to receive their first test of these Olympics against Australia.
“He’s great,” Thibodeau said of Anthony. “He’s shared all of his experiences with the team. He’s saying a lot of the right things, but more importantly he’s doing a lot of the right things. He’s very inclusive.”