Team USA Basketball tipped off group play against China on Saturday, and the result wasn’t pretty for the country of China.
The United States took care of business on Saturday. It was clear from tip-off that China could not keep pace with the talent of Team USA Basketball.
Team USA Basketball actually got off to a slow start, scoring just two points over the first two minutes of play. Team USA had many chances in transition early, but the offense wasn’t clicking. Three minutes into the game, Kevin Durant knocked down the first field goal for the Red White and Blue.
Eventually, Team USA found their stride. They showed their size advantage early on, as DeMarcus Cousins and Carmelo Anthony showed dominance in the paint with their ability to score. Midway through the first quarter, a 9-0 United States run put Team USA up 13-4. China’s defense continued to struggle to keep up.
Team USA’s versatile offense posed problems for China once they settled in. The United States was clearly bigger than China, and their length paid dividends on the defensive end, which led to fast break opportunities on offense.
8 Points, 9 Seconds
Team USA Basketball had multiple offensive weapons on the floor at all times. Crisp, frequent ball movement left China overmatched defensively for much of the first quarter. The United States took a 30-10 lead into the second quarter after a 26-6 run.
Team USA’s second unit entered the game to begin the second quarter, and the defensive prowess was immediately apparent. China struggled to create on offense with the U.S playing airtight defense. Draymond Green, Paul George, and Jimmy Butler led the defensive push for the Americans. As sound as Team USA Basketball was defensively, China was the opposite. Team USA was able to assert themselves, as Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, and others stretched the lead to 22 midway through the second quarter.
With 4:45 remaining in the second quarter, China had a fast break opportunity, but what should have been a layup turned into an ugly turnover. The possession epitomized the state of China’s offense on Saturday. It was one of the few possessions that China had numbers coming down the floor, but they could not capitalize.
With three minutes to play in the first half, Kevin Durant started to heat up. Durant got hot after he knocked down two three’s in succession to put Team USA up 55-27. In the final seconds of the first half, Durant made a beautiful pass to find DeAndre Jordan for an easy dunk, giving Team USA a 59-30 lead heading into the half.
By half time, it was abundantly clear that Team USA was in control. The first half was filled with ball movement, uncontested three pointers, and high-flying dunks. Through 20 minutes of play, eleven of Team USA’s twelve players had scored, save for Kyrie Irving. Durant led all scorers through the first half, with 17 points. The United States also out-rebounded China 25 to 16 in the first half.
Interestingly, Team USA looked slightly out of rhythm on offense to begin the third quarter, but China still struggled to make any headway. Once Kevin Durant re-entered the game, Team USA settled down. Draymond Green found Durant for a wide open three, which Durant promptly knocked down to give the United States a 38 point lead. Kyrie Irving then hit three straight three pointers, quickly getting his point total up to 16 after going scoreless in the first half.
Team USA took a commanding 91-47 lead into the fourth and final quarter. Through three-quarters, China turned the ball over 20 times. It was clear that Team USA’s length and willingness to switch on defense overwhelmed China.
DeMarcus Cousins continued to dominate on the glass in the fourth quarter, as China was no match in the paint for the big man. Cousins also showed his athleticism on a fast break, laying the ball off the glass after a nice no-look pass from Klay Thompson.
The United States made a good showing by continuing to play defense late in the fourth quarter. Team USA continued to switch and force turnovers defensively, capping off a solid defensive performance overall.
The United States made easy work of China, cruising to a 119-62 victory. Kevin Durant led Team USA Basketball with 25 points. As a team, the United States committed just 9 turnovers, on their way to the 18th straight victory for Team USA Basketball.
Team USA Basketball lived up to expectations in their opening game, and will now turn their attention to Venezuela on Monday, August 8.
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