The Fourth of July is a great day for Americans named “Washington.” 241 years ago George Washington commanded the Continental Army in New York, but it took him seven years to earn ultimate victory. Today it only took P.J. Washington one quarter to dominate Italy into submission.
P.J. Washington scored a team-high 20 points to lead Team USA to a 98-65 win over Italy, but their third World Cup victory did not come easy. Their greatest challenge yet, Team USA’s early 10-0 lead was quickly erased. Italy took an 18-15 lead until Washington re-entered the game with 2:17 left in the first quarter.
Washington ended the quarter with a personal 6-0 run. After knocking down a pair of free throws, he stole a pass in the backcourt and finished with a powerful slam. He finished the next possession with an “and one” off the dribble.
Washington’s momentum was slowed by foul trouble in the second quarter, but not in the second half. He took one defensive rebound the length of the court, drove through the middle of the lane and finished off the glass. He spun through the middle of the lane, went up and under, then finished another “and one” through contact. He knocked down a three.
Washington did everything right for Team USA on the Fourth of July and that’s exactly how it should be.
A few game notes and observations…
— Romeo Langford returns. Sidelined in the second game of the tournament with back spasms, Langford returned to the court today. He played nine minutes and didn’t look too hobbled when he threw down a powerful slam dunk and blocked a shot into the stands on a fast break.
— Reddish was good, again. Reddish is essentially a Diet P.J. Washington. A year younger, they are built similarly, they share a similar skill set and today they both were limited with foul trouble in the first half. Reddish still found a way to score 15 points in 17 minutes. The 6’8″ forward was 3-of-4 from behind the three-point line, now 9-of-12 (75%) through three games.
— Quickley’s improved outside shot. A question mark entering the summer, Quickley’s shot continues to look better. The stat sheet from behind the three-point line is very average (1-of-3), but he hit another deep shot with his foot on the line. Most importantly, he’s shooting with confidence from long range.
— Diallo’s worst offensive performance. One of the tournament’s top scorers couldn’t get into a rhythm today. He scored 5 points and made just 2-of-9 shots. Calipari limited Diallo’s playing time in the second half to save his legs for the upcoming single-elimination portion of the tournament.