USA Men's National Team Defeats China, 107-57 In Oakland
OAKLAND, Calif. -- San Francisco Bay Area basketball fans came to see a three-man show from their very own Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.
Instead, what they got was a 12-man clinic by many of America’s best.
New Warriors superstar Kevin Durant scored the game’s first 10 points, but his 11 American teammates quickly found ways to contribute as well, as the USA Men’s National Team (3-0) ran circles around China in a 107-57 exhibition win.
With Warriors stars of past (Chris Mullin) and present (Stephen Curry) among the 19,596 cheering them on, the Americans made it three straight exhibition wins with their most impressive showing of the Rio de Janeiro Games lead-up.
“They’re a hard-nosed team. They play extremely hard,” USA point guard Kyrie Irving assessed of the Chinese. “But every single game that we play going forward is about us. How we come out. Our approach. How we execute on both ends of the floor.”
For most in attendance, the night was supposed to be all about Durant. And it was for almost three full minutes.
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist and former NBA Most Valuable Player, who signed with the Warriors as a free agent earlier this month, scored the Americans’ first 10 points, including a by-design 3-pointer just eight seconds into the mismatch.
“Kyrie, being such a great guy he is, he told me before the tip that he was throwing it to me no matter what,” Durant said of the game’s first action after he had received a rousing standing ovation from the sellout crowd. “I knew I was going to pull the first shot since like yesterday. Luckily, it went in.”
Durant quickly added two dunks and three free throws, accounting in just 2:56 for 10 of the 13 points he scored in the game.
But with future Warriors teammates Draymond Green and Klay Thompson also in the starting lineup in a ceremonial move by USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Americans led just 14-8 before the coach made his first substitutions just past the midpoint of the first period.
And that’s when the landslide began.
Big men DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordandominated the paint with 27 points on 10-for-11 shooting and 16 rebounds, Carmelo Anthony put on a Curry-type shooting exhibition in a 16-point, third-quarter explosion and every American both scored and rebounded before night’s end, leading to the 50-point shellacking.
“It was amazing. The atmosphere was great. The energy was great," Durant boasted. "The fans showed me major love. I appreciate that. It was good to get out there in front of them and play well."
The final score was nearly identical to the 106-57 win over the same Chinese team in Los Angeles two nights earlier. But this one featured a near-perfect defensive display in the second quarter, during which China was held to just three field goals and nine total points in 10 minutes.
“The one thing we should be able to do better than everyone is play defense,” Krzyzewski insisted. “Other teams can score. A lot of them have real good 3-point shooters. And we do, too. But we should be a better defensive team than those other teams.”
If there was an awkward moment in the game, it occurred while the Oakland fans went into their first “Warriors” chorus about five minutes into the second period.
It ended when Harrison Barnes, who was allowed to leave the Warriors in free agency to create salary-cap space with which to sign Durant, dunked.
Barnes finished with seven points, Green with four and Thompson 15, with the latter two being the last among the Americans to score.
In fact, Thompson kept the big crowd engaged well after Durant had called it a night, pouring in all 15 of his points in the final 6:59 of the game.
"We are going to grow together,” Thompson said of having Durant as a teammate. “And that starts with (this team).”
The exhibition was the third of five the Americans will play before heading to Brazil next week. For one night, Green admitted, focus on the team took a back seat to shining the spotlight on one special individual.
“It was definitely a warm welcome and he came out guns blazing, which was great to see,” Green said of Durant. “Just to play with him on this floor is great.”
China played without star Yi Jianlian, who had visa issues. The Chinese hope to resolve the problem quickly. Their next stop is South America.
Center Zhou Qi led China with 13 points.
Krzyzewski praised the relentlessness of the Chinese players, which led him to see a positive despite the fact his team was sloppy at times, finishing with 16 turnovers.
“They do a couple of things that are very good for us: They pressure the ball and they deny wing passes,” the legendary Duke coach observed. “I mean, our talent level was superior. But the fact that they play so hard against you, it makes you have a really good night.”
The game’s final two minutes featured one of the night’s highlights, with guard DeMar DeRozan attempting a 360-degree spin on a dunk attempt on which he was fouled.
Even though the Toronto Raptors standout didn’t make the shot, the American bench erupted in excitement, drawing a technical foul for excessive celebration.
“We’ll tone it down some,” Krzyzewski promised.