Luis Scola, Argentina play Team USA tough but late comeback falls short


Back when the original Dream Team wore the uniforms Team USA donned today in Spain, opponents were so in awe of the American stars that some even snapped photographs from the bench.

Now 20 years later the same could not exactly be said of Luis Scola and the Argentinian national team, which dropped an 86-80 exhibition decision to the Americans on Sunday.

Scola drew a number of fouls taking it right at Team USA and even got into a bit of a scuffle in which he got right into the face of Kevin Durant and then pushed LeBron James’ arm away. This is not a player who will back down from anybody, even the best players in the world.

Scola’s crafty game was on full display, and it was beautiful to watch him work with long-time national teammate Manu Ginobili in the two-man game. He made a handful of gorgeous passes to cutters as well.

The newest member of the Suns scored 14 points, grabbed six boards and dished four assists to almost lead Argentina back after Team USA jumped out to a 19-3 advantage behind sizzling starts from KD and Kobe. But Argentina kept battling, cutting the lead to five late in the first half.

The American always had another run in them, taking the lead back to 15 early in the fourth only to see Argentina cut it to four on a Ginobili three-point play with less than three minutes left. Durant and Chris Paul promptly buried triples to put the game out of reach.

“I think we competed, pretty much the whole game,” Scola told The Associated Press. “We started bad, we’ve been starting bad this whole preparation. That’s going to be a problem for us. We have to fix that and then they hit a lot of shots. Obviously they’re capable of hitting shots.”

That they did, particularly Durant, who dropped 27 and barely seemed to hit the net. However, if today was any indication, the Americans won’t exactly romp through group play like the original Dream Team did with a rematch against Scola and the Argentinians looming on Aug. 6.

Simmons high on Scola acquisition

Grantland’s Bill Simmons for one saw value in the Suns’ pickup of Scola, calling him “the best amnesty guy ever, by far — nobody else comes close.”

I loved the Scola pickup — not only was he totally overqualified for an amnesty auction and landed in one for fluky reasons, you just shouldn’t be able to land a big man who can score on the low post for $13.4 million over three years. Cleveland fans should be outraged that their team didn’t trump that Phoenix bid. Repeat: outraged.

Simmons even praised owner Robert Sarver for his offseason maneuverings, something I can’t remember ever happening.

To Phoenix owner Robert Sarver, who earned a rare compliment by doing the right thing with Nash, landing two no. 1s and two no. 2s and a whopping trade exception to boot (VotS Editor’s Note: The Suns did not receive a trade exception since they were under the cap). From there, they smartly snared Dragic at a fair price; amnestied Josh Childress to create cap room for Scola (double amnesty!), made a respectable max contract run at Eric Gordon (and earned Gordon’s “my heart belongs in Phoenix” quote), and took an $18 million flyer on Michael Beasley (who gives them much-needed offensive punch AND good fodder for Jared Dudley’s Twitter feed). If you’re looking for 2013′s underdog that overachieves by 12 wins because of chemistry and quirky/savvy offensive players, look no further than the 2012-13 Suns.

Scola on playing in the Olympics

Houston Chronicle Rockets reporter Jonathan Feigen dug this gem out of his notebook from Scola on Olympic play:

“I really like it. I think it’s fun. I love my country. I love my teammates. I think it’s very high level competition in the FIBA tournaments. You play and work to play with the best, at a high level. Those are good tournaments. I think it helps me, especially before I came to the NBA. For me, I lose shape really quick and take a long time to get it. I like to keep playing. I don’t think working out is better than a FIBA tournament. That’s the highest level of working out. I think summer is about getting better. The last reason, I think the Olympics is a huge experience, beyond basketball, beyond sports. It’s cultural. Global. Everyone loves. I got a chance to watch it, and compete in it, to be a first-hand spectator of all these amazing sports. And I see not only the sports, but the life of the sports. That’s huge. People would pay thousands of dollars for this experience and I get to be a part of it. Even if we didn’t have success in the past, I think the experience would be quite the same. Just the life of the village is a highlight, besides the games and winning and all that.”

Tags: Luis Scola

  • Ty-Sun

    Gortat’s scoring numbers could actually go up this season. Why? Last year Nash and Gortat were the only consistent scoring threats the Suns had. This year they have Gortat, Beasley, Scola and Dragic. It’s a lot easier to plan your defense to stop two players than four. I’m not saying that is what I expect to happen but it could just as easily go that way as the other.

    And I’m not going to even try to predict how many games this team will win this season or whether they will make the playoffs or what seed they might make if they do. There are just way too many unknowns this year with this team AND one thing I’m sure everyone can agree on is that an injury to a key player on any team can change the course of the team’s season. If the Suns stay healthy and another team or two has one of those kind of injuries then the Suns’ playoff outlook could increase.

    The thing I really like about this team is that it has a lot of potential. Hopefully they will live up to it but we’ll just have to wait and see once the season actually starts.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Russell

    Did you forget those brain popping unnecessary fade-aways he did last season? The only reason he had a higher % was because like I said, Nash babied him the ball with accurate passing JUST because he couldn’t catch! I remember those easy shots he missed, and not taking advantages of mismatches. MAN! Gortat put so much stress on Nash, and I personally think it’s the reason why Nash left!

    Most important, Gortat has a low IQ for the game, and easily gets depress affecting the team as a whole if things don’t go his way. He undid everything concerning what it means to be a Suns player (calm, cool & collective). He shamed the Suns, thank God Nash made him look cool.

    So back to my point, I hope Gortat stays away from trying too much offensively, and just go with what the defense gives him. This time when he makes a mistake, he won’t have Nash coming up to him and say ‘it’s ok keep trying’. This time he’ll have guys who won’t tolerate with his dumba$$ plays in Scola, Dragic, & Beasley. These guys will really let him know it if he keeps playing dumb.

    Oh, and his free throw & better get high. Suns should’ve won more games, and made it to the playoffs last season if it wasn’t for his missed free throws that mattered in critical moments. The problem with Gortat last year was that knowing he sucked at free throw, he purposely got fouled in crucial times rather than giving it to the hands of the open man or what. I was surprised Nash, Hill & Dudley didn’t get a heart-attack. Gortat Sux offensively plain & simple.

    If Gortat & Brown just play into their strength and not do too much, Suns will be in good condition. Let the smart guys be the active players.

  • Greg

    the reason nash left?? thats a little harsh and out of line lol

  • Greg

    just because Gortat is my boy, he shot 68% from line in the last month. in their last 6 losses he was 10-14 from the line….doesnt sound like a guy who cost his team with free throws….and he didnt go to the line in many critical moments….he went to the line less then 4 times a game, and he had 4 games over 10 more free throws, so he shot less then 3 free throws most nights…actually, did some tallys, Gortat was better from the free throw line in losses….he shot 68% in losses, which is better then his 62% in wins….68% is the league average for centers that played 25 mins plus per game, so he didnt hurt the suns, comparatively to other centers….im sure he isnt the reason the suns didnt make the playoffs, maybe that was because they weren’t that good….If it wasnt for Gortat they wouldnt have been anywhere near the 8 seed. find someone else to blame…

    please use some factual basis or stats when you rip on the POLISH HAMMER!

    also, ill admit, gortat struggled down the stretch, only scoring 13 ppg, far less then any other month. However, shorter season, condensed schedule, less off nights. It was his first year starting, and by far the most minutes he has ever played in a season, which is alot on a center when there are less off nights.

    Gortat’s the MAN

  • PennyAnd1

    @Greg

    No offense, but like I said stats don’t tell the whole story. There were many critical situation where Gortat played a vital role in the loss. He played the role because he either didn’t make the extra pass, missed easy lay-ups (the GUY don’t want to dunk hence the nickname Polish softener), missed important FTs (~10 games Suns should’ve won if Gortat converted his FTs), or just couldn’t FREAKIN’ catch! Plus he put his head down alot when he gets beat off the dribble not going back in time to play the offense or defense (he lets his emotion get the best out of him).

    Let’s just say this: Suns look much better with Amare leading the offense in a losing game compared to Gortat running the offense with a losing game. With Amare atleast he looked like he knows what he was doing (high bball IQ), compared to what Gortat does on the offensive end of the game (dumb plays High Blood Nash). Didn’t you see how frustrated Nash was throughout the season? I’ve never seen Nash so frustrated in my entire life watching him. That’s why it’s too bad Nash had to leave when Scola came along, Scola would’ve made it easier for him.

    Again, I’m not hating on Gortat he’s a nice dude n’ all. But dude was a weak mentality and just doesn’t know how to read plays. I will always remember Gortat as the player in orlando where he actually defense against his own man going for the lay-up. Sometimes I don’t know where his head goes. nuff said. I’d rather take Amare’s low % game with a winning record compared to Gortat’s high % game with a losing record. Isn’t it what it’s all about? Winning?

  • PennyAnd1

    And1

    If you don’t believe me, look for past articles about Gortat being criticize for not dunking the ball & doing fade-aways when nobody was there.lol

    Or how about the article where Gortat just can’t make his FTs.

    I got fed up with Gortat not able to learn from a game and applying it to the next. Seriously, I think it’s of the reasons why Nash left.

  • PennyAnd1

    I got two videos to contrast Amare & Gortat

    Amare gets crowds involve and intimidates opponents, doesn’t back down, finishes strong:

    Gortat, good defense, easy shots, makes shots look harder than it should be, clumsy and has no body control:

  • Greg

    dude pennyand1, i went back and looked at every losses free throws last night and there was not anywhere near 10 games because of his free throws! thats the biggest joke statement with no statistical basis ive ever heard. you reach far to puil that one out. a guy that goes to the line less then 3 or 4 times a game cannot blow you 10 games at the free throw line.

    and amare does not have a low percentage game haha. hes a career 53% shooter and until last year he was over 50% every year. With the Suns he had field goal percentages of 56% 58% 59%54% and 56% his last 5 seasons in PHX. with the Knicks he has dipped to 50% and 48%, but you cant really begin to say he is a low percentage player….

    you act like the Suns picked Gortat over Amare or something… and ofcourse its about winning, and the Suns couldnt win with Amare because he didnt play defense either….but its dumb for you to even compare Gortat and Amare. thats not really a hard comparison to analyze….plus, Suns werent very good outside of Nash and Gortat, thats why they didnt win games. not because of Gortat. you are trying to shoulder 10 games on one person???so the suns should have been 43 and 23? lol thats the most ridiculous thing i have ever heard….Important free throws? lol your argument makes me laugh. he shot 65% from the line…lets say he shoots 75%…thats good for any center.

    he made 2.5 of 3.8 in the season
    10% increase puts him at
    2.9 of 3.8!!! where is the ten games?? The suns had alot more going wrong for them then Gortat’s mistakes. The Suns had no number one scoring option, no players that could penetrate and attack the rim. Heck, if it wasnt for Gortat, Suns would have been awful. absolutely horrid. but you sit here and claim he is the cost of 10 games? you have lost all my respect with your factless claims.

    Gortat only had 1.4 turnovers per game, so i dont know where he his not smart and doesnt catch?

    If Gortat did everything you said he did wrong. he would shoot 68% instead of 56% from the field and hed shoot 85% from the line instead of 65% and he would score 25 points per game….

    stats dont lie, he helped the suns. your expectations are unrealistic for any player.

    Durant only shot 49.5%??? wow if it wasnt for some of his bad/missed shots Thunder would have won the title!

    10 games…lol

  • Greg

    and i dont care about your dumb videos i never made an amare comparison you did lol

  • PennyAnd1

    @Greg

    I didn’t put up the videos to compare Amare & Gortat, I put them up to see how each one impacts the team. Trust me I remember those FTs man, I was pulling my hair. There is just something about Gortat you don’t see. He acts & talks like he’s been a Suns for a long time complaining whining and acting like he’s number 1. He should just stay humble and get better in every games. Like I said, he undid everything what Amare, Nash, Hill and 05-09 Suns players worked hard for in putting up a standard what it means to be a Suns. Face it Gortat sucks. You can’t deny his stupid shot selection and his dumbheaded plays unless of course you a Gortat fan which you claimed you are. So there’s no point in arguing with you.

  • PennyAnd1

    And1

    Yeah, Gortat should’ve had 70% FG if he just executed right. That’s why I put up the videos! Quit blinding yourself will you. Amare had tougher defenders on him compared to Gortat. Just check out the video to make it easier on you. Easy missed shots and missed FTs did it for Nash & the Suns last season. nuff said.

  • PennyAnd1

    And 1 more
    Like I said stats don’t tell the whole story. Gortat’s low Turnovers per game is low in %, because he gave it to Nash by not catching it, hence Nash got the turnover. Man what were you watching last season?! That’s why Nash would leave too.

    And what has Gortat’s defense did for the Suns? oh yeah two seasons not making it in the playoffs. lol Oh and Durant is a proven scorer, that’s his job! Gortat’s job is defense & rebounding! That’s my point! he should stay to his strength and let the shooters do the shooting! Why the f*ck would he do a fade-away when there was no freakin’ defender! explain that!lol

  • Greg

    no one in the entire league shoots 70%, so just stop lol. Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum suck too right??

    Check Gortats PER….that will tell you if he sucks….you are ridiculous lol.

    Im not saying he shouldnt have faded away sometimes, and im not saying he didnt make mistakes. but to say he “sucks”?

    if you want to say he isnt as good as some fans think, then i will allow you to be entitled to your opinion, but if you legit think he sucks, you are clueless lol. 21 PER. Statistically he is top 5/6 center in the league….

    You can say thats a product of Nash, but 21 is extremely good…you cant do that if you arent a quality player. Gortat does not “suck” he just may not be “as good” as the stats show.

    Nash’s turnover stats were nearly identical to every other year for the past 6 seasons….i guess thats Gortats fault too??

    So if Gortat wasnt on the team Nash would of had only 1 or 2 turnovers a game?

    Just because you have some distinct memories of Gortat missing easy shots, missing free throws, or dropping passes, does not mean he is a bad player lol.

    i am not blind, you are just being extremely unfair and unrealistic. who would you prefer at center ?

    keep in mind, alot of big men have poor hands, thats what happens when you are damn near 7 feet tall.

  • Greg

    Gortat shot 72% at the rim….4th best in league. behind Chandler, Howard, Bynum….so you think he should have shot 85% at the rim?? he should have been the best by far??

  • PennyAnd1

    Well he doesn’t suck all that much. Given the easy shot opportunity that was given to him, Amare woould’ve reached 70% ill tell you that.
    But Gortat is good in defense & rebounding no doubt. But he totally suX when it comes to being him as the number 1 man for scoring and he sux for having a low bball IQ for the game.

  • Greg

    lol and stop saying thats why Nash left. we didnt want him back and didnt offer him a deal so please just stop. you are making yourself look really unintelligent because you have a hatred for gortat.

  • Greg

    Amare would have reach 70%%%%%% hahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahhahahhahahaha considering 59% is his career high and he also played with Nash for alot longer….

  • Greg

    and i never said he should be the number 1 option…he became the number 1 option by default last year because they had no one else….so instead of saying he cost them 10 games, you should appreciate we even had him or we would have been 20 and 46

  • Greg

    ok not quite that bad, but you get my point

  • Greg

    oh im sorry, i misread your amare quote

  • PennyAnd1

    We will really see how good Gortat is this season. With Nash gone, and more help at the offensive end. We will see the IQ of the man.

    Will he do too much with the ball beyond his limits? Will he stick to rebound & defense? Will he hog the ball and do fade-aways or will he make the simple extra pass? Will Goran give him more chances if he keeps dropping the ball? will his FT % increase? let’s just hope he proves me wrong because the mentality should be a team win, not an individual win concerning stats if that’s what you & Gortat is concerned about. We will see. Until then, let’s postpone this conversation.

  • Greg

    and no, amare did not shoot 70% at the rim…i check the stats….he shot 67 and 65% last two seasons with the Suns, and he dunked wayyyy more then Gortat….meaning….Amare missed more “easy shots” because he also took 2 more shots per game at the rim then gortat…meaning Amare missed significantly more baskets inside that Marcin Gortat….and Nash was even better 2 or 3 years ago

  • PennyAnd1

    Suns were foolish to let Nash go. You’ll see what Nash can do in LA land. And yeah, if Amare had those same easy look that was presented to Gortat by Nash, he definitely would’ve broke records going 70 % or more.

  • PennyAnd1

    like I said, stats don’t tell the whole story.

  • Greg

    btw….gortat was 14th in usage rate for starting centers….so it doesnt sound like he was a guy being concerned with stats or else he would have had a way higher usage rate and took way more shots.

  • Greg

    when did Amare not have those easy looks nash gave him?? Nash played with Amare too in the same pickn roll offense….

  • Greg

    and i dont need to see what Nash can do in LA lol hes the best offensive creator the league has ever seen, i never argued about that

  • steve

    @Penny

    Amare had his chance at those same shots, and he didn’t do it. History has spoken.

    If you’re going to argue Amare was taking more difficult shots, then why wasn’t Amare smart enough to get easier shots? Aren’t you arguing Amare’s bball IQ is better than Gortat’s? Then why does Gortat, with the same exact PG, put himself in position to get easier buckets than Amare did?

    I’m not trying to pick on you, but your position is weak on this one. It’s time to give it up. It’s ridiculous to argue that something that has already happened and had a chance to run its course could have happened any different than it did. If Amare could have shot a higher percentage, then he would have.

  • Greg

    thank you Steve jeez
    stats done lie.
    like i said, amare dunked way more, which should be made 99% of the time…Amare dunked 208 times and only made 67%…that means he dunked almost 3 times per game, but then missed enough shots to shoot 5% less then Gortat….

    stats do tell the whole story. you are wrong.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Steve & Greg

    Amare was a scorer it is his job, same thing with Durant. Those guys get double- triple- teamed, and are forced to make their offensive plays hence a lower % rate. Their offense comes harder compare to what Gortat gets. Gortat isn’t or wasn’t forced to score but he did it anyways, hence the low IQ. don’t you guys get it? get a grip.

  • PennyAnd1

    That’s why Gortat sux because he don’t know how to play the game not sticking to where his strength is knowing his weakness and learning from it. The team’s success this season will depend on how well the team will gel this season. Suns was all about ca·ma·ra·de·rie. Without Nash & Hill to keep everyone in line, let’s see how Gortat will be affected with the guys around him not tolerating his dumb plays. Goodluck Dudley!

  • PennyAnd1

    Gortat has an IQ similar to that of Andray Blatche & Jamal McGee combined.lol

  • PennyAnd1

  • Greg

    im not in this conversation anymore…no one in the league gets triple teamed. and even if amare was double teamed, he wasnt on 208 of his dunks, so in your opinion every shot he missed must have been a double team? stats dont lie in this case. Gortat is not as bad as you keep saying and just admit it. if you arent willing to admit it, then this conversation is over from my end.

    btw, with all the 3 pt shooting the suns have had over the years, Amare actually didnt get doubled that often because teams had to maintain their defense on the perimeter….most of Amares scoring at the rim were uncontested dunks, or one on one matchups…and gortat was more efficient.

    just admit you are wrong.

  • PennyAnd1

    btw, with Amare attracting a double- or triple-team, the Suns were able to hit more threes. stats don’t lie on that.

    you’ll see what I mean come game time. good luck with your defense.

  • Greg

    lol when did i ever compare amare and gortat? you did! you created my argument in your argument, and all i did was point out some simple facts, and now you turned it into “my defense” haha. i never said Gortat has a higher IQ then Amare. I never said Gortat is better then Amare. I admitted already Gortat does make poor decisions and ill advised shots at times. i dont understand what you are looking for…..

    for me to say Gortat sucks? lol he doesnt and thats fact.