U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team Gets Rolling With 119-62 Rout Of China
Facing a familiar opponent, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team (1-0) produced a similar result. Taking on China, a team it twice had beaten in exhibition play in recent weeks, the USA recorded an easy, 119-62 victory in its first game on Saturday evening at Carioca in Rio de Janeiro.
The USA previously topped China 106-57 on July 24 in Los Angeles and 107-57 on July 26 in Oakland, California.
Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors) led the USA with 25 points on 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point to go along with six assists. Overall, the USA had 31 assists on 38 field goals.
“I thought our guys played really hard,” said USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke). “I thought China played hard, again. We’ve played them in two exhibition games, and they have a lot of young players. They are getting better, and we were good. Obviously, we’re older and more talented, but they have good talents. We played really hard, and we shared the ball. I think we had 31 assists. In the third quarter, every bucket we made, it was assisted. We keep playing hard and sharing, I think we are going to keep getting better.”
The USA began the game 0-for-4 from the field, and the score was tied at 4-4 early on when the USA began to heat up. Ignited by a dunk from DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), the USA reeled off nine unanswered points to lead 13-4 at 5:10 when China called a timeout. China scored out of the break, but the USA put together an 8-0 run and led 21-6 when Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls) made a jumper at 2:49. The USA scored nine more points and allowed China four to lead 30-10 after the first quarter. The USA committed just one turnover in the first quarter and nine throughout the game.
The USA’s 20-point lead remained intact, 42-22, after 4:20 of play in the second quarter, but after free throws from Cousins and Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Durant nailed three 3-pointers in a row to put the USA up 55-27 at 3:16. Each team scored twice more, and the USA led 59-30 at halftime.
“I think when you get hot, you want to see your bench get excited for you,” Durant said. “I think that’s better than making the shot, to be honest, and to see my teammates getting excited for me, that’s what kept me going. So, after the first one, they just kept telling me to shoot the ball, and Kyrie was trying to come to me every time. I think that is better than making the shot to be honest. So, the bench was great, and we played a good overall game.”
The USA put together its largest run of the game, 17 points, from 6:38 to 2:44 in the third quarter to lead 84-40. Helped by five 3s, with four of those coming from Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) in a little more than two mintues (4:08 to 1:59), the USA outscored China 32-17 in the quarter and was ahead 91-47 headed into the final period.
The red, white and blue outscored China 28-15 in the fourth quarter to earn the 119-62 win.
Cousins had 17 points, Paul George (Indiana Pacers) added 15 points and Irving finished with 12 points and five assists.
“We’re still learning,” George said. “Some shots we’re passing up that we should take. Some shots we are taking we should pass up. It’s a little give and go on that end. We’re still trying to figure this thing out. The best thing about it is our energy is phenomenal. Our effort is phenomenal. You put those two together with the talent that we have, and everything else will kind of all into shape.”
The USA outrebounded China 52-29, forced 24 Chinese turnovers and China was whistled for 34 fouls in the game. Additionally, 31 of the USA’s points came on fastbreak opporutnites, and the bench contributed 54 points.
Yi Jianlian scored 25 points for China.
Also today in Group A action, Australia (1-0) won against France (87-66), while Serbia (0-0) and Venezuela (0-0) will play at 9:30 p.m. (EDT).
The U.S. men continue preliminary round play against Venezuela at 6 p.m. (all times EDT) on Aug. 8, followed by Australia at 6 p.m. on Aug. 10, Serbia at 6 p.m. on Aug. 12 and a final preliminary round game against France at 1:15 p.m. on Aug. 14.
The top four finishing teams from each preliminary round group advance to the quarterfinals on Aug. 17.
The semifinals will be played on Aug. 19, and the finals are on Aug. 21.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Tom Thibodeau (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Monty Williams.