Team USA Showcase: Plumlee struggles+shines, but our best to Paul George

Mason Plumlee CENTER

First and foremost: the game was cut short because of a horrific leg injury to Paul George, who needed to be carried off by a stretcher. It was a gruesome image, and if you want to see it, well, it’s out there. But for now, I send my heartfelt wishes to George on a speedy recovery, and hoping that the doctors and physical therapists that are sent to help him recover can help bring him back to full health.

The injury cast a pall over the evening, cutting the scrimmage short, but we’ll try to keep this Plumlee-focused:

Plumlee’s Blue team may have struggled with its arbitrary rival, but Plumlee shined against his very real roster spot rival, DeMarcus Cousins. After a rough first half, Plumlee dove to the rim for dunks and easy buckets alike for 10 third-quarter points, none better than a pretty one-handed alley-oop in transition.

Plumlee backed up Anthony Davis, first entering with 4:42 left in the first quarter, and had a slow start. Led off his offensive repertoire with a cringeworthy possession where he should’ve dunked immediately and hesitated. Had a smoother stint in the second quarter, but his unpolished offensive game and lack of natural alley-oop attempts meant his offensive performance was nearly nil. Plumlee was stronger on the defensive end, stopping Andre Drummond on a couple of possessions.

But it was his efforts in that third quarter that highlighted why Plumlee’s a good fit on Team USA. He didn’t play out of his comfort zone. He didn’t take possessions that other players would finish. He had a clearly defined role and executed it about as well as anyone could. (He also, for the record, made Cousins look bad.)

No matter what, it’s worth noting that Plumlee has worked his way onto this roster and earned a spot in the final 19, a remarkable achievement for a late first-round pick just a year ago. The fact that he’s even here is incredible, even if you consider his inclusion came on the heels of a few dropouts.

But at the end of it all, we’re just hoping Paul George makes a full recovery. As the old cliche goes, injuries are part of the sport, but nobody wants to see someone go down like that. An awful ending to what was otherwise a fun night. Our best to PG.

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