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USA starts slow, picks up pace to blow out France 98-71

Jul 29, 2012, 12:03 PM EDT

London Olympics Basketball Men AP

We’re going to see a lot of games from Team USA during the Olympics.

This was not an end-to-end dominant performance to open the Olympics from the Americans. France was in it early. Tony Parker was making smart plays slashing into the lane while The USA shot 29.2 percent overall and was 0-of-6 shooting from three in the first quarter. The result was this was a one-point game after one (22-21 USA).

But Team USA comes at you in waves. They are insanely deep — the 12th guy on the bench is the NCAA Player of the Year. They wear you down. Against France it started with threes from LeBron James and Kobe Bryant to open the second quarter as the USA went on an 11-0 run and they never looked back, going on to win 98-71 to open their Olympics. The USA is now 1-0 in Group A play (with four more group stage games left).

Kevin Durant led the USA with 22 points and you’re going to see him lead this team in scoring all through the Olympics (he is the best scorer in the world and the Americans best pure shooter). Kevin Love chipped in 14 and Kobe Bryant had 10. LeBron James had 9 points, 8 assists and 5 boards, Carmelo Anthony added 9 points and 9 rebounds.

A lot of the keys for Team USA were evident in this one.

First, they need to knock down the outside shots and when they started 0-for-6 from three it allowed France to hang around. The game felt like one refereed by FIBA as there were a lot of foul calls, but that slowed the game down and took the USA out of the transition rhythm they like. The result was a lot of isolation hoops from Team USA in the first half.

France, however, did not make the USA pay for its transgressions, in part because of the USA’s athletic pressure defense. France shot just 39.4 percent overall and was 2-of-22 from three. That’s not good enough. France got some nice post play out of Ali Traore, who led France with 12 points. Parker added 10.

But those two combined for 8 turnovers as well, part of the 18 their team had, and that is part of what started to wear France down. The USA’s relentless depth and pressure started to lead to some transition buckets and the threes started to fall. The result was a 30-15 Team USA second quarter win and from there it was all over.

Whatever Coach Mike Krzyzewski said at halftime worked as in the second half the USA’s ball movement improved dramatically as they started to really stretch out the lead. It was 78-51 USA after three and the only real question was if Team USA would break 100. They didn’t, and in the USA that would have led to unhappy fans who didn’t get free tacos. In London, the fans just all went to the pub and were fine.

The USA’s next two games — Tuesday and Thursday — are against Tunisia and Nigeria, two games the USA should win handily. Well, more handily. The level of talent drops off with the African squads. The USA’s next real test is against Lithuania next Saturday.

But even as they get tested before the medal rounds, expect more games that look like this. The USA just wears you down.

  1. proballerslounge - Jul 29, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    Good looking score lol

  2. acdc363 - Jul 29, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    Effin BS that it was on at 930 in the morning

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 29, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      Those damn time zones are a pain in the ass.

    • adzs - Jul 29, 2012 at 7:40 PM

      BS for who?? US might be a major tv market but UK is just as big + the whole world is watching not just america; we have no need to pander to the NBC’s of the world so we put on game and events when its most convenient for us rather than for you guys; Indeed, only the 100m final has been adjusted to suit a US audience and even then its not in the most convenient of time slots (around 4et if i remember rightly). Really need to get over the mentalility of the world being centred around the USA….

  3. zblott - Jul 29, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Olympic preview written by an International fan who really knows the International game:

  4. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jul 29, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    No Angolas for this Olympic Team to beat up on.

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 29, 2012 at 1:13 PM

      No Charles Barkley to administer one.

  5. BigBeachBall - Jul 30, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    Hey Kurt, or somebody… how are you finding out when the basketball games will be televised? I can’t find a reliable site for this information yet. Thanks.

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