Goran Dragic didn’t force anything he didn’t need to, and he didn’t have the opportunity to do much more than that. Team USA closed its World Cup exhibition schedule with a 101-71 victory Tuesday against Slovenia by keeping the ball out of The Dragon’s hands, forcing him into four turnovers and a 3-for-10 shooting outing.
How did Dragic look?
Dragic didn’t play as poorly as his stat line would indicate. Aside from losing his dribble against ball pressure once, his turnover issues came as Team USA used its length to disrupt pick-and-roll passes and get into the open court (more on that in a bit). The Suns point guard shot poorly by picking and choosing his spots, and he got out to a fast start against the American squad, slashing past Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis in the first few minutes. But the U.S. defense adjusted, and Dragic began deferring to his teammates, mostly brother Zoran.
Goran did show exceptional speed, at one point blowing by a cemented Derrick Rose straight away and getting fouled at the rim. Another time in transition, Dragic got to the opposite side of a retreating Rose with his behind-the-back wrap-around move scored — but on a goaltend.
The younger Dragic led the Slovenians with 16 points, while guard Domen Lorbek added 10 and Edo Muric added 14 off the bench. Slovenia couldn’t crack 20 points in any of the 10-minute quarters but held steady in the first half, where it trailed 46-35. Dragic didn’t start the second half and played just 21 minutes, and that’s when Slovenia lost whatever footing it had left.
What about the Americans?
Irving indeed put solid ball pressure on Dragic, and the rotations bottled up Dragic following his impressive first score. The issue for Slovenia was its 20 turnovers and lack of foot speed from small forward to center. While the Dragic brothers faired decently, the USA lineup of Davis and Kenneth Faried outran Slovenia’s big men. Davis scored 18, grabbed 11 rebounds and had four blocks, and Faried added 14 points and nine boards. Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team got its hands on a number of pick-and-roll passes, leading to transition opportunities.
Faried perhaps made the case for the biggest surprise — again. From the onset, he was switching onto Dragic and forcing contested, fadeaway jumpers following failed pick-and-rolls.
Both teams begin group play on Saturday. Slovenia has a Group D where Australia and Lithuania will be challenges. They are joined by Mexico, Angola and Korea. USA faces a Group C of Finland, New Zealand, Turkey, Ukraine and the Dominican Republic.
Suns draft pick Bogdan Bogdanovic will be in action for Serbia, which finds itself in the group of death. Spain, Brazil, France, Egypt and Iran fill out Group A.