And of course, when the technology isn’t sufficiently advanced, the magic disappears.
Such was the sad reality in the gold medal game in the London Olympics, as France’s magical run to the finals was abruptly halted by an American team that was not impressed with narrow escapes and Cinderella stories. After allowing the French to hang around for a while, the Americans won 86-50, outscoring Les Bleues 62-29 in the final 27:23.
The primary magicbuster was Candace Parker, who was simply incredible. She finished 10 of 14 from the field for 21 points, and added 11 rebounds, but her eight points in just 3:43 that turned a tight 24-21 game into a 34-23 American edge was the key. Parker’s offensive explosion seemed to cast a spell of its own of the French, who suddenly couldn’t make a shot after a hot start that even had them in the lead (13-11) with 3:52 left in the first quarter.
The win gave the United States its 41st straight Olympic victory (the last loss came in 1992 to the Unified team, representing the fragmenting Soviet Union), and its record-breaking fifth straight gold medal.
Fittingly, as it turned out, it was Parker who put the U.S. up for good, making a superb spinning catch of a perfect Diana Taurasi feed just over a minute later. The French hung around for a few more minutes, but the magic that earned them four wins by four or fewer points was simply overwhelmed by the depth and talent of Team USA.
And speaking of Taurasi, she started out guarding France’s Celine Dumerc, a somewhat surprising assignment given the general consensus that she is not a great defender. But Taurasi is three inches taller than Dumerc, and refused to let the Frenchwoman dribble with her left hand – and Dumerc made only two of 10 shots in the gold medal game. And though Taurasi only scored nine points in the final, she did have six assists to just one turnover.Sue Bird was the only other American in double figures with 11, on five of seven shooting, as coach Geno Auriemma played everyone once Team USA took over midway through the second quarter.
Sandrine Gruda and Edwige Lawson-Wade each had 12 for France, which won its first-ever Olympic medal, but the U.S. simply dominated the game. The Americans outscored the French 46-20 in the paint, forced 21 turnovers and held them to just 29 percent shooting.
The American slow start was all that kept the game interesting, if only for a while, but once Team USA kicked it into gear, the French needed a lot more than pixie dust to keep up.
In the end, the magic got France to the finals was no match for skill, depth and talent – and the United States left no doubt as to the identity of the best team in the world.
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