The Rundown: Spain’s defense suffocates Mills, Australia


San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills and assistant coach Brett Brown were back in Olympic action on Tuesday as Australia faced Spain, but facing Spain wasn’t any easier than facing Brazil for the Aussies.PM

Pau Gasol (20 points) and Spain played suffocating defense for two quarters that led to a 82-70 victory for the Spanish in Group B play. Gasol received help from Rudy Fernandez (17 points), his brother Marc Gasol (12 points) and other members of the Spanish national team.

Joe Ingles (12 points), Mills (11 points) and Matthew Dellavedova (9 points) did what they could to help Australia, but in the end Spain’s defense was just too much. Here’s the rundown.

First Quarter: Australia 19, Spain 14

Player of the quarter (AUS): Dellavedova/Team defense – Though his scoring (2 points) wasn’t a major factor, Dellavedova kept the Australians poised and productive by running the offense after Mills got into early foul trouble and was sent to the bench. Credit Australia’s overall team defense in the first quarter as they did an excellent job of shutting down almost all Spanish players outside of Gasol.

Player of the quarter (ESP): Pau Gasol – Gasol collected six points in the first quarter by getting to the free throw line and scoring with post play. What was noticeable was the chemistry between he and his brother, as Marc found him to get him open for the points.

Highlight (ESP): On one play, Marc caught the ball 18-feet away from the basket, he then threw a bounce pass that Pau collected under the rim and forced Australia to foul Pau.

Mills Spotlight: Mills was able to play just five minutes in the first quarter due to foul trouble. He drew a reaching foul 10 seconds into the game, missed both of his 3-pointers, and then got called for another reach-in foul midway through the quarter.

Second Quarter: AUS 32, ESP 37

Player of the quarter (AUS): Ingles – Ingles supplied Australia with seven points after Spain came out strong with an 8-2 run to begin the second quarter. Ingles was also active on the boards with five rebounds and his passing netted him two assists at half.

Player of the quarter (ESP): Pau Gasol/ Team defense – Gasol added five more points to his total in the second quarter, both by posting the Australians and scoring in the open court. Spain’s team defense held the Aussies to just 13-points in the second quarter, while their offense supplied 19 points.

Highlight (AUS): Late in the second, Ingles delivered a half court one-handed bounce pass to an open Mills underneath the rim.

Mills Spotlight: At half, Mills had six points on 3-of-8 shooting. When he came into the second quarter, he forced one layup, and two jumpers. I tweeted that with his freedom on offense to jack-up shots, it would make Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder jealous. Mills then let the game come to him late, by using his speed in the open court to score a layup and then Ingles found him for the highlight bucket.

Third Quarter: AUS 42, ESP 63

Player of the quarter (ESP): Fernandez, Gasol brothers – Pau continued to attack the rim, Marc hit turnaround jumpers in the post, and Fernandez hit three 3-pointers that gave the Spanish a 22-point lead at one time and blew the game open.

Mills spotlight: Mills missed all four of his shots in the quarter, but his team overall only scored 10 points in the third quarter, credit Spain’s defense once again for locking down on the Aussies.

Fourth Quarter: AUS 70, ESP 82

Player of the quarter (AUS): Aussie bench – Down 24 points when they were inserted with close to four minutes remaining in the game, the Australian bench put forth a valiant effort as they cut Spain’s lead down to 10 points with less than two minutes remaining, but it was too little too late. Brad Newley produced 12 points late to help the Aussies try to make a comeback.

Highlight (AUS): Early in the fourth, Mills and Ingles displayed a beautiful give-and-go play. Mills passed the ball to Ingles who was at halfcourt, Mils burst with his speed down the court and Ingles fed him the ball for the layup. It looked similar to the give-and-go play Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker run with the Spurs.

Highlight (ESP): With Ibaka on the floor, there’s bound to be a highlight dunk. Ibaka did just that on one play midway through the fourth quarter as he was fed an alley-oop in the air and dunked on his Australian defender for the and-1 opportunity. Borrowing a comment from twitter follower Brandon Moralez, “the Thunder dunked on the down-under.”

Spurs spotlight: Early in the fourth, Mills was able to score five points by using his speed to score layups and get into the lane. He missed his last 3-point attempt of the fourth quarter as he ended the game shooting 5-of-18 and 0/5 from 3-point range.

Mills and the Australian’s fall to 0-2 in Preliminary play, but there could be hope on Thursday as they face winless (0-2) China. Spain moves onto 2-0 in group B play.