With four seconds remaining and Australia leading 79-78 over Russia, Russian Vitally Fridzon was at the free throw line ready to be the hero of another game for Russia. Fridzon made his two free throws to give Russia an 80-79 lead over Australia with four seconds remaining.
Australia called timeout, and drew up the final shot for a player who was 0-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills. The ball was inbounded, Mills ran around the perimeter without the ball and received a screen about 25-feet on top of the arc, he was fed the ball, released a fade away jumper and the ball sank through the net without hitting the rim.
Mills’ buzzer beater gave the Australians an 82-80 victory over powerhouse Russia, who had come into Monday’s game undefeated. Mills had already drawn a lot of attention from his 39-point performance Saturday against Great Britain, but on a day when his shot wasn’t falling (5-of-16 shooting), Mills made his final shot the most important of the game.
Here’s the rundown.
First quarter: Australia (AUS) 29, Russia (RUS) 20
Player of the quarter (AUS): Joe Ingles, David Andersen, Matthew Dellavedova – Australia shot 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, and Ingles (20 points), Andersen (13 points), and Dellavedova (10 points, 7 assists) were responsible for all four of those threes. Dellavedova also collected four assists in the quarter to help Australia end the first with a nine-point lead.
Player of the quarter (RUS): Aleksey Shved, Sasha Kaun – Shved (13 points) scored seven points in the first quarter with his outside shooting and he even performed a Manu-esque layup to slice through the defense and finish with a finger roll. Kaun (18 points) was a recipient of passes underneath for easy dunks and shot attempts.
Mills after one: Mills hit one jumper off a screen, while assisting on one basket, and he even blocked a Russian player trying to score an easy lay-up all in the first quarter.
Second quarter: AUS 46, RUS 45
Player of the quarter (RUS): Semen Antonov, Timofey Mozgov – After Australia took a seven point lead early in the quarter, Mozgov (10 points) and Antonov led the Russians with a 10-3 run to cut the Boomers lead to two points. Both teams went back and forth for the rest of the quarter, but Russia outscored Australia 25-17 in the second to cut the Boomers lead to one at halftime.
Mills at the half: Mills hit one corner 3-pointer to go into halftime with five points and two turnovers.
Third quarter: AUS 69, RUS 64
Player of the quarter (AUS): Ingles – Once Russia came to take the lead in the third, Ingles put the Aussies on his back as he scored nine points in the quarter.
Player of the quarter (RUS): Kaun – Kaun continued to stay productive in the paint as he was scoring consistently on rolls to the basket. He had 16 points after three quarters to lead the Russians.
Mills after the third: Mills’ hot shooting was clearly missing from Saturday, when after three quarters he was only shooting 2-of-7 from three point range, and most of the shots were wide open. None were more noticeable than his missed open 3-pointer at the buzzer of the third quarter. Mills had eight points going into the final quarter.
Fourth quarter: AUS 82, RUS 80
Player of the quarter (AUS): Mills – As explained above, Mills just couldn’t connect from the outside or inside in the fourth. With Australia leading by one point and less than a minute remaining, Mills had a chance to end the game, as he took and missed an open 3-pointer that would have given the Aussies a comfortable four point lead to work with.
Player of the quarter (RUS): Fridzon, Russian Coach David Blatt – After not scoring since the first quarter, Fridzon took and made both of his free throws. Early in the fourth quarter, Coach Blatt did something that not many coaches would do on the Olympic stage were millions are watching. He subbed out two of his best players, Shved and Mozgov, for talking during one of his timeouts. It was clearly a message to his team that he demands respect, and the players can’t complain, they should have waited for what he had to say instead of being disrespectful.
With the win, Australia finished the preliminary round of Group B with a 3-2 records. Unfortunately, the Boomers can’t move up any higher than their current fourth place position, which means they’re projected to face the United States in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, so long as the U.S. doesn’t lose to Argentina by 19 more points later today.