USA – China Scrimmage a Three-Quarter Victory
• Box Score (PDF)
The USA Men’s World Championship Team finalists got their first taste of international competition on Saturday afternoon when they took on the Chinese in a friendly scrimmage. The two nations clashed for a total of 40 minutes. However, it was broken up into four 10-minute games and the overall score was 98-51 in favor of the U.S.
Since USA and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski stresses the importance of winning all four quarters of a game – not just the overall game – the Americans took the first three games and China won the last by a single point when the Americans missed a last second game winning three.
Happy with more than just the lopsided score, the coaching staff was pleased with the overall team effort, especially since China has been together for awhile and this was the USA’s first taste of international competition.
“I was happy just with the fact that we played hard; we didn’t get down if we were missing some shots; we used our man and zone; we were trying a whole bunch of different combinations so it wasn’t like a regular game,” said Coach K. “And even tomorrow’s game against France we’ll be trying to do some different things.”
USA 20, China 11
The first game started off with a Kevin Durant 3-pointer as the USA led from wire-to-wire. After a Chauncey Billups basket, Durant sunk a pair of free throws to give the USA a 7-0 opening lead.
China got on the board with a 3-pointer at 5:03, sparking an 8-3 run and with 3:25 to play, the USA’s lead had shrunk to 10-8.
Enter Danny Granger. In the final three minutes he drained a pair of threes and hit back-to-back jumpers for 10 consecutive American points as the red, white and blue closed the opening game 20-11.
“Danny’s a key guy for us because when he does shoot the ball you feel it’s going in,” said Krzyzewski. “He’s a bigger guy and he can cover a three defensively and he’ll have to cover a four at times.”
All seven of the USA’s field goals were assisted in the win, while the USA also had five steals. Granger’s 10 points in a little over four minutes of play led all scorers in the period.
“We’re all playing for the USA. I’m not worried about making the cut, making the team,” stated Granger. “That wasn’t my main motivation. I just played my game and did what I do.”
USA 27, China 15
For the second straight 10-minute session the USA jumped out to a 7-0 lead and Durant had a hand in all seven points. He hit the game’s first bucket, followed that up with a rim-rattling dunk at 9:04 and assisted on an Eric Gordon 3-pointer at 8:38.
Less than a minute later Andre Igoudala slammed one home to put the U.S. up 11-4.
Still owning a 7-point lead, 19-12, Derrick Rose had a fast-break layup to spark an 8-3 game-closing run that ended with another slam dunk, this time at the hands of Rudy Gay.
Gay and Rose checked in as the game’s top scorers with seven points apiece as the U.S. team dished out seven assists on nine field goals. The team also notched seven steals and turned the ball over just three times.
USA 35, China 8
It was Tyson Chandler who got the first score of the game, but in this one China tied it up pretty quickly to make it 2-2.
But that was as close as it would be.
Durant kicked-off a 23-0 scoring spree that included eight points from Granger, six from Gordon and five from Durant that left China in the dust, 25-2, with 4:10 remaining.
“Yeah, it was just a rhythm within the team and that’s why I was able to run down and get a good couple of shots and hits some threes,” said Gordon. “When teams are in rhythm a lot of players get in rhythm.”
China hit a pair of 3-pointers that bookended a Stephen Curry put-back and the score was 27-8. Those were the final points for the Chinese as Granger, who scored a high of 10 points, had a dunk on a Curry assist, Curry nailed a three and Russell Westbrook had three points to close the game with the USA on top 35-8.
China 17, USA 16
Rose netted a three to get the action started in the final game, but China soon owned its first lead of the day, 4-3, and again pulled ahead 9-7 with 6:08 to go.
From there the lead changed hands five times and with 1.3 seconds to play China’s Liu Wei stepped to the line with his team trailing 16-15. He sunk both tries to push China to a 17-16 lead.
The USA called a time-out, which advances the ball to half court upon the break’s conclusion, but a quick catch and turnaround jumper by Gordon hit the rim and China celebrated its victory.
TOTAL: USA 98, China 51
Overall the USA played well together and showed the crowd of military personnel and their families glimmers of greatness. The fans witnessed a team starting to really come together and gel.
Granger, who was out a day during the team’s training camp in Las Vegas, and who has been hampered by a finger injury this week, came off the bench to score a high of 22 points on 9-of-12 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point. Gordon followed with 15 points, Durant scored 14 and Rose notched 12. Gay nabbed a team-high seven boards, while Chandler and Igoudala each grabbed six.
“We have a lot of good players” noted Igoudala. “Once we get in a comfort zone, guys get used to playing with each other some more, this can be a really good team.”
Rajon Rondo passed out seven of the USA’s 24 assists and had three steals, while Gay was credited for four.
The USA outrebounded China 40-33, had 22 steals to China’s five, and had just nine turnovers compared to 25 on the other end. The U.S. offense shot 46.7% (35-75 FGs) from the field, while its defense limited China to just 30.2% (16-53 FGs).
Recent Washington Wizards acquisition Yi Jianlian scored a team-high 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds for China.
“It’s just a matter of us making sure we knock those shots down,” replied Durant on what the team still needs to work on. “I think we have a great mix on the offensive end. Everybody stuck together, so it was a great win for us.”
“I thought we shared the ball well and we tried to take a look at a bunch of different things,” added Krzyzewski. “We’re still evaluating as to who’s going to be going on the final trip. I thought our point guard play by Rondo and Derrick Rose was very good. Their ball pressure, they distributed the ball. I think guys have to learn to play with Derrick as far as keeping the court wide. The wider the court for Derrick the better, he’ll get you the ball, you don’t have to come and get it, but that’s part of learning to play with one another.”