USA Basketball Men's National Team Rolls to First Victory Over Dominican Republic, 113-59
Much to the delight of the sold-out crowd of 18,499 fans at Thomas & Mack Arena at UNLV in Las Vegas, the 2012 USA Basketball Men’s National Team (1-0) put on a dazzling display during its 113-59 exhibition win over Dominican Republic on July 12. The exhibition was the first of five games scheduled for the USA Men’s National Team.
Including 5-of-5 shooting from 3-point in the first 15 minutes of the game, Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) led the USA with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers) was named the Tiffany Player of Game after contributing 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Both players came off of the bench for USA.
“We were really pleased with our effort tonight,” said Mike Krzyzewski, USA and Duke University head coach. “There have been a lot of distractions, not Vegas distractions, but contract, injury, different situations during these first eight days. Overall one of the things we wanted to accomplish here was to develop good camaraderie. Guys seemed to get along really well. They pull for each other and they play hard. Now we have to translate that into an effective system both offensively and defensively, and they have to get to know one another and we have to get to know them in this context. I was pleased with the unselfishness of our team, the defensive intensity, the fact that we really shared the ball, and we got a lot of minutes for everybody tonight.”
Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), with 13 points, and James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder), with 11 points, also scored in double digits, while Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets) dished out 10 assists. Overall, the USA recorded 27 assists on its 42 made baskets.
“I have to give a shout to my teammates,” Durant said. “They did a great job of finding me. Everything felt like it was in rhythm. I was stepping into the shot. LeBron’s a great passer D-Will (Deron Williams) had 10 assists, he’s a great passer. Everyone was passing the ball well tonight. We had 27 assists, so if we can do that as a team, we’ll be fine.”
The USA broke the game open early in the first quarter with an 13-0 run that began with two points from Anthony at 6:44 and included two 3-pointers from Durant. The Dominican Republic’s Al Horford interrupted the onslaught with two free throws at 3:34, but the USA responded with three more 3-pointers, one from Durant and two from Iguodala, to take a 26-12 lead at the first break.
Shooting 39.4% from deep overall (13-33 3-pt FGs), the USA sank four more 3-pointers in the second period to help extend its lead to 50-27 at halftime.
“I'm a shooter, but we've got weapons all over the floor,” said Williams. “My job is to run the two and give guys the ball and get guys the shot.”
The Dominican Republic never gave up, but the USA was fast and furious in the third quarter, doubling up the score 70-35 after an alley-oop from Williams to Durant at 3:35 was followed by a basket from Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks) at 3:04. With 10 minutes remaining in the game, the USA had built a 79-41 advantage.
“Sellout crowd, the fans were great,” Anthony said. “There was a lot of USA pride in the building tonight, and we came out here and did what we had to do. Early on we let down a little bit, but early in the 3rd quarter we turned it on.”
Added to tonight’s lineup earlier in the afternoon, USA Men’s National Team alternate Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets) checked into his first game with the USA Men’s National Team in the fourth quarter, and all available players for the USA recorded minutes.
Davis finished with nine points, including a 4-point play with just 32 seconds remaining in the game, and his made free throw gave the USA its largest lead of the night, 113-59, to end the exhibition contest.
National Team member Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), who experienced discomfort in his left knee after practicing on Wednesday, flew back to Los Angeles this afternoon for further evaluation and missed the game.
Just one player reached double-digit scoring for Dominican Republic, which was held to 31.7% shooting from the field (20-63 FGs). Elipidio Fortuna scored 10 points, and Jack Martinez grabbed nine rebounds.
Overpowering its opponent with size and speed, the USA recorded 42 points in the paint compared to Dominican’s 16, and the USA won the battle on the boards, 42-32.
“Tonight was a little bit of a tough gauge, we kind of overwhelmed them with our speed, but I think defensive boards for us are always going to be a challenge,” said Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers). “Us guards and forwards are going to have to do a good job to get in there and rebound the ball.”
The U.S. men will move on to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., to train July 14-15 and play an exhibition contest versus Brazil at the Verizon Center on July 16 (8 p.m. EDT). The game is part of a doubleheader with the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, which will face Brazil’s Women’s National Team (5:30 p.m. EDT).
The USA men continue their preparations July 17-18 in Manchester, England, and on July 19 (7:30 p.m. local time, Manchester is +5 hours from EDT) will play Great Britain at the Manchester Arena. The USA women will square off against the Great Britain women at the Manchester Arena on July 18 (7:30 p.m. local time).
Twenty years after the USA Dream Team made its debut in Barcelona, Spain, the U.S. returns and will conclude its tour with a pair of exhibition games against FIBA’s No. 2 and No. 3 ranked world powers. Facing No. 3 ranked Argentina on July 22 (9:30 p.m. local time) at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, the USA will close out its exhibition tour against FIBA’s No. 2 ranked power Spain on July 24 (9:30 p.m. local time) at the Palau Sant Jordi.
Along with USA assistant coaches, Syracuse University and Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim and former NBA head coaches Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan, Krzyzewski has led the USA Men’s National Team to gold medal finishes at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and 2008 Beijing Olympics.