Team USA Romps Over Croatia Behind Eric Gordon's Sharp Shooting
"I got to say I am (the better shooter), and he's going to say he is," said Curry, a Golden State guard.
"Of course, I think I'd like to be at the end of the day (the better shooter)," said Gordon, a Clippers guard.
One could spend many a fortnight debating the subject. But let's put it this way: On Saturday, Gordon definitely was the superior marksman.
Gordon scored a team-high 16 points, including shooting 4-of-6 from three-point range, as the Americans defeated Croatia 106-78 at Abdi Ipekci Arena in their 2010 FIBA World Championship opener.
Curry might share a name with a spice, but he was pretty bland on this day. He scored four points, missing all three of his three-point attempts.
But there no doubt will be a game in the Worlds in which Curry is hot and Gordon is off. As long as one is on, Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski figures to be content.
It was believed by many when the Americans headed to Europe two weeks ago with 13 players that the final cut would come down between Gordon and Curry. But point guard Rajon Rondo's situation got a bit mysterious and he eventually dropped out for what were called family reasons.
It might end up being a blessing in disguise that Rondo's departure took care of Team USA's final roster decision. The Americans have plenty of point guards and team officials had been feeling uneasy about the prospect of possibly cutting one of their two best shooters in Gordon or Curry.
Especially Gordon, whom Krzyzewski said before leaving for Europe hadn't had a bad day yet on the court.
"He has been consistently excellent, and the guys I know have great confidence in him," Krzyzewski said after Saturday's win. "Just like the staff. He probably had the hardest road to being selected for the team. He didn't get as much playing time. And then whenever he did he did something really good. He's been terrific."
The trend of Gordon providing a boost off the bench continued Saturday after a first quarter in which the Americans fell behind 19-18 and had a 22-20 lead at the end after a Croatian three-pointer rimmed out. Team USA started the second quarter with a 16-4 spurt to take control of the game, six of the points coming on a pair of three-pointers from Gordon.
"Not just (Saturday), but the whole summer he's been playing great," Team USA forward Rudy Gay said of Gordon, who played a team-high 22 minutes against Croatia and shot 6-of-8 overall. "He's been a real spark off the bench. For us, he's been a great player. I've known that for a while."
Not everybody is as familiar with Gordon considering he plays for that other team in Los Angeles.
"I probably don't have as much publicity as other people have," Gordon said.
What Gordon does have is confidence. He said he never has been cut by a team at any level, and he wasn't planning on there to be a first time this summer.
"What I did was look at it and try to look at the things I could do better than probably some people, definitely making shots and playing defense," Gordon said. "And I think that has helped me along the way. My thing was not to back down."
The Americans certainly didn't after their shaky start. They outscored Croatia 26-6 in the second quarter to take a 48-26 halftime lead and cruised the rest of the game.
Using a balanced scoring attack, Team USA had five players in double figures. Forward Kevin Durant added 14 and guard Chauncey Billups scored 12.
The Americans are off to a good start as they seek to bring home a World Championship gold medal for the first time since 1994. Team USA has settled for two bronze medals since then and finished a disastrous sixth in Indianapolis in 2002.
Gordon, a native of Indianapolis, needs no reminding of that American implosion. Then 13 and in middle school, he attended many of the games eight years ago.
"I remember that team," Gordon said. "They just weren't together ... I think we're a way different team. I think we're a better team."
If the Americans take care of business in Istanbul, it won't be a subject open to much debate about which team is better. As to who is the superior marksman between Gordon and Curry, that might be much tougher to settle even if Gordon was Saturday's shooting star.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@christomasson