LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: Luol Deng of Briatain in action during the LOCOG Test Event for London 2012 London International Basketball Invitational match between Great Britain and Australia at Basketball Arena on August 21, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
Minutes before the U.S. Men's National Team destroyed poor little Nigeria in a beatdown of historic proportion, host Great Britain and powerhouse Spain squared off in a surprisingly epic battle that came down to the final moments. Heading into Thursday's game, the Brits had struggled mightily in two losses, so most figured the Spaniards would just run roughshod over Luol Deng and Co.
Deng himself had had a rough go of it, shooting just 8-27 from the field in Great Britain's 95-75 loss to Russia in their Olympics opener. He followed that up with a dismal 3-13 shooting effort in a 67-62 loss to Brazil. So if you're counting, that's 11-40 (27.5%) through two games, which certainly made this Bulls fan question how that injured left wrist was holding up.
Things didn't start too well for Deng against Spain, as he finished the first half just 3-10. The second half however, and especially the fourth quarter, was a different story. Trailing by 12 heading into the final frame, Deng and teammate Joel Freeland ( who will finally be joining Portland this year) helped lead a furious charge that resulted in a frantic final few minutes. Deng would have a couple of costly turnovers that would hurt Great Britain down the stretch, but he also hit a three with eight seconds left that cut the deficit to one and gave them a final hope. Unfortunately, Great Britain failed to commit a foul and Spain simply ran out the clock. With the loss, the hosts fell to 0-3 in Olympic play.
For the game, Deng finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, but as mentioned, a lot of his damage came in the second half. He scored 19 points overall on 7-10 shooting in the second half, with 13 of those points coming in the fourth quarter.
I'm sure this strong performance will have some people proclaiming that Deng is fine and doesn't need the surgery on his wrist. But remember, he did have multiple huge games last year even while battling that injury. Of course, that wrist truly could be doing much better, as Deng himself as insisted. Either way, it's good to see Lu perform like this against top notch competition, and it can only help when he's called upon to be a first scoring option next season when Derrick Rose is out (and even when Rose returns). And on another positive note, Deng "only" played 34+ minutes!
Also, I wasn't actually able to watch this game, so if anybody that did would like to add some better analysis in the comments, please do. Full box score here.