Luis Scola drops 32 points on Lithuania

Luis Scola scored 32 points on 12-of-19 shooting to help Argentina beat Lithuania 102-79 in its first game at the 2012 London Olympics. Scola, along with San Antonio’s Manu Ginobli and Milwaukee’s Carlos Delfino, were too much for the Lithuanians, who were led by Toronto’s Linas Kleiza and the Raptors’ 2011 first-round pick, Jonas Valanciunas.

Scola was an offensive machine in this game. He scored off pick-and-roll, catch-and-shoot, and postups. He was everywhere. Most of his best work came off pick-and-rolls with Ginobili.

What’s impressive about Scola as the big man in a pick-and-roll is his ability to dive to the hoop or pop out to the top of the key. Most bigs in the NBA who get as much pick-and-roll work as Scola prefer to roll or pop, but Scola is equally adept at both. He really showed the impressive diversity of his offensive game in this one. If his defender was showing high to turn back the ball handler, Scola dove straight to the hoop.

If his man sunk into the key to prevent penetration, Scola ran to the free throw line. He was great no matter what the defense gave him. Watching him catch passes from a crafty, left-handed guard and score with ease gave me visions of what he and Goran Dragic could do in Phoenix next season. Scola had impressive chemistry with Ginobili, his long-time national teammate. His chemistry with Dragic, with whom he played all of last season, should be excellent by the time the season starts as well.

The other thing that impressed me about Luis’ game was his ability and assertiveness in the post. Though he isn’t the most physical player, Scola is very comfortable operating with his back to the basket. He uses his body position and long arms well. He scored twice by spinning to the baseline and draining a 6-foot baby hook, a move he can use against much larger defenders with great success. And although he isn’t the quickest guy, his footwork in the lane is impeccable, much like Suns starting center Marcin Gortat.

Scola can catch the ball on the move in the lane and finish without putting the ball on the floor. He may not hammer it home like his Polish frontcourt mate, but he can finish well in traffic. This was exhibited on a ridiculous up-and-under and-1 that Scola converted in the third quarter. He caught a pass at the top of the key, pump faked, drove past his man, and got the shot up high on the glass while being fouled by two Lithuanian defenders. The ball dropped in the hoop, and Scola headed to the free throw line screaming exuberantly. It was great to see that side of Scola. Oftentimes, his only outward expression is displeasure with the referees, but in this one he was extremely fired up.

The competition in the opening rounds of the Summer Olympics is a lot like that of the NBA’s Vegas Summer League only with worse nightlife. So Suns fans shouldn’t see this box score and pencil in Phoenix for next year’s postseason. What can be taken from Scola’s performance is his desire and ability to carry his team.

Even with Ginobili on the floor, Scola was Argentina’s most dominant player. It’s important for Phoenix, especially with all the new faces on the roster, that Scola brings this confidence and assertiveness with him to training camp. There is not an obvious top dog on the Suns’ roster, but for now it’s good to know that Luis Scola can step up when he’s called upon.

Scola on the win to The AP

“I think the message is that we are old but we can play, something like that. We didn’t want to show nothing to nobody. We weren’t playing well in the preparation. We weren’t feeling well, we got this feeling that it’s not going well, we need to do something, we’ve got to play better, we’ve got to move faster, we’ve got to have a little bit more of a spark, so we needed to have this game.”

And 1

Argentina will next face off against France at noon Arizona time on Tuesday. Tony Parker and his teammates dropped a 98-71 decision to the Americans in their first game.

Tags: Argentina Luis Scola Olympics Phoenix Suns

  • sun also rises

    I remember watching Hedo in the Worlds when we signed him and feeling my heart sink into my trainers. Dude looked like a dead man walking while Scola was the exact opposite out there. I don’t think he’ll have this kind of swag for the Suns (The hype of playing for your country’s team must be like running on star dust or something) but there’s a lot to like about what went down in this game.

  • Scott

    I first saw Scola in Olympic play. He was impressive. When the Spurs got him, I thought, “Typical Spurs! They recognize talent ahead of the rest of the herd.” But then they passed him off to Houston for a song, before he’d played a game, and it’s seemed to me that ever since then people have been overlooking Scola.

    If the Spurs had kept Scola years ago, they might have kept their title runs going.

  • Awesome

    Scola is a guy who just loves playing basketball. He’s the kind of guy who wouldn’t surprise people if he joined a suburban league when he’s retired from pro ball.

  • bk

    Nothing against Scola, but I am more worrying about the playing time of Morris.

  • Ryan Weisert

    The thing to consider with Markieff is that the Suns might be able to go small with him and Scola in the frontcourt for stretches when Gortat is off the floor.

  • Joe

    @Ryan Do you think the Suns are looking for a back-up center or are they going to go with Scola there until Frye is available?

    I’d like to see them pick up Jerome Jordan.

  • Michael Schwartz

    Suns definitely plan on signing a backup center. I’m sure Scola will log some time, though, while Frye is out.

  • shazam

    i wish they would sign redd and wait for frye…there is no bb logic to my wish..i just like redd for some unexplainable reason..i guess its that i remember what he was and keep thinking he can pull a grant hill because of the progress he made last year

  • Sturmtank

    I’d also like to see redd back in phx …

    good allround game from scola. in addition to his 32 (12-19fg, 8-13 ft) points, he had 5 reb, 4 ass, 3 blk, 1 stl, 1 to, 3 fouls and 9 fouls drawn

  • Greg

    Did you guys check out the game Yi Jianlian had against the Gasol brothers and I-blocka? Even though I feel he is a player that needs minutes to really play up to his capabilities, Yi could be a cheap 1 year option for the Suns and his recent seasons do not indicate that he will need to be given a ton of minutes or clog the rotation. We would be able to get a decent look at him before Frye comes back healthy. After watching him on Sunday, and yes, international play is very different, but it was obvious that Yi was playing with confidence. Confidence has seemed to be one of the things missing from his game in the past, and it was clear the guy can score with a variety of offensive weapons. He is also a very good pick and roll defender, although average defender overall.

    I don’t see many true 7 footers available, and if the price is right, I don’t see why signing Yi would be a bad move. If the guy sucks then leave him at the end of the bench, nothing hurt other than becoming a locker room problem, which is where you trade him for nothing or waive him.

    At 24, 25 come the season, I see Yi in a similar way i view Beasley. A very talented scorer with height, (except Yi seems to be unware he is 7 feet tall) that just hasnt landed in the right situation to flourish.

    Not saying the guy is going to be a stud, he has done nothing to show he deserved being the 6th pick in the 2007 draft. However, with the few options available, Yi would give the Suns quality pick and roll defense and he may learn to use his height as an advantage defensively. On offense he would give you more of the same of guys like Morris, Frye, and Beasley, but at 7 feet he has the chance to develop his game closer to the rim.

    The only way this signing hurts is if his play is so awful he can’t be on the floor. The only way he hurts you off the floor is if he complains and becomes a locker room problem, which as mentioned, there are ways to fix that.

  • Andres

    “Oftentimes, his only outward expression is displeasure with the referees, but in this one he was extremely fired up.”
    Probably you haven’t seen enough of Luis playing for Argentina.. He’s a monster and he’s been a monster for years!

  • Zuperman

    “…and 2011 No. 1 pick Jonas Valanciunas…”

    Jonas Valanciunas was NOT the no. 1 pick in 2011. Kyrie Irving was.

  • Greg

    he meant Toronto’s number 1 pick. read the context clues in the rest of the sentence @Zuperman

  • B. Cray Z.

    Welcome to the Suns Luis.

    When they play Brazil, I will also look forward to seeing Barbosa play. Last game he lead the team in scoring in a win over Australia.

    Suns need to bring him & Louis back, like they did with Gogi & reunite them with Gogi, Dud & Frye.

    MUST reunite that killer bench unit. Let’s go SUNS!!!!