Skip to content

After lackluster start, Team USA rallies to blow out Dominican Republic, secure group top spot

Sep 3, 2014, 5:45 PM EST

Team USA has won the FIBA World Cup Group C.

Which is about as big a surprise as your mother forwarding an email with a cute cat video in it — we all knew that was coming. We’re all still waiting for something more interesting.

The USA grabbed the top spot with a 106-71 thrashing of the Dominican Republic on Wednesday, improving to 4-0 in the World Cup. Team USA was not energetic and focused to start the game — they led just 25-22 after one quarter — but went on a 22-0 run late in the third into the fourth, turning a comfortable win into a laugher.

The USA has one group game left, Thursday against the Ukraine (ESPN 2 at 11:30 ET), then they start the knockout round Saturday in Barcelona against an opponent yet to be determined. That’s when things start to get interesting, although it may well be a couple games after that before the USA gets its first real test.

Once again Wednesday it was the energy of Kenneth Faried that led the way for Team USA, he had 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting, plus pulled down six rebounds. He’s the big story right now — and to do it heading into a contract year is a good time to break out. DeMarcus Cousins had 13 points and six steals and brought some passion to the court, Anthony Davis finished with 10 points and five blocks as again it was the inside play of the Americans that anchored them and got them the win.

The Dominican Republic was without Houston Rockets swingman Francisco Garcia — he’s averaged 21 points a game and played 31 minutes a game so far this World Cup — who sat out with a sprained ankle. He tweaked it at the end of Tuesday’s game against Finland and with Thursday’s Dominican Republic game against Turkey determining whether or not they advance to the knockout stage (win and they move on, lose and it could get dicey), the Dominican Republic coaches wisely gave Garcia a game off. A game they weren’t going to win anyway.

Credit the Dominican roster, filled with guys who played college ball in the USA, for playing well early on. They slowed the game down at points, got back on defense in transition, ran a solid zone defense, made smart fouls and drove the lane. The problem was they struggled with the length of Team USA when they tried to finish those drives (DR shot just 39.6 percent on two pointers). The USA had five first quarter blocks and altered many more shots — the USA bigs were cleaning up a lot of messes.

It also was close early because the USA just missed stuff they normally make. Davis missed a couple dunks, Curry clanked a wide open three, and the USA started 2-of-7 from the free throw line. Just not in a rhythm, not playing with energy. USA struggled again against the zone.

The USA got a spark off the bench, particularly some chemistry between Cousins and Derrick Rose. It wasn’t a great statistical game for Rose — six points on five shots, three assist in 13 minutes — but his defense was better than the guys on the floor, he made some smart passes, and bottom line he was out there when the complexion of the game started to change. By the half the USA was up 15, 56-41, and had yet to go on a real run.

In the second half the USA played improved defense (the Dominican Republic scored just 30 points after the half) and with that started to really pull away and make this a rout.

Thursday’s game against Mike Fratello’s Ukranian team likely ends in pretty similar fashion.

Again for the USA there are legit areas of concern. There are the slow starts, we can pick apart the half court defensive decisions at times, not to mention the ball movement vs. too much isolation basketball ratio, but the USA seemed a little better about those things today (well, not the slow starts). It’s not easy to judge until they face a team they can’t just overwhelm, but that likely does not happen until the quarter or semi-finals next week.

Against Spain (or maybe Slovenia or Lithuania) these kinds of sloppy starts and defensive miscues could be real trouble. But the USA knew how this game would end and it’s human nature not to be as focused in those cases.

Thursday likely sees more of the same.

Latest Posts
  1. Phil Jackson denies illegally deflating basketballs while playing for the Knicks

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:50 PM EST

    Phil Jackson, James Dolan, executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company AP

    “Softer but not illegal,” Jackson attempted to clarify.

  2. LeBron James out Wednesday vs. Blazers with wrist injury

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Cleveland is just 1-8 without LeBron in the lineup this season.

  3. Kobe Bryant expected to be ready for start of 2015-16 season after undergoing successful shoulder surgery

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:37 PM EST

    Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Bryant will miss the remainder of the current season, and is expected to be sidelined for nine months.

  4. J.R. Smith says he’s playing better in Cleveland because there’s less partying

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:13 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    One may have to work a little harder to find the late night parties in Cleveland.

  5. Bucks sign Jorge Gutierrez to 10-day contract

    Jan 28, 2015, 5:30 PM EST

    Jason Kidd AP

    Larry Sanders’ suspension allows Milwaukee to add 16th player

  6. Tayshaun Prince: “Obviously I want to be in a winning situation”

    Jan 28, 2015, 4:45 PM EST

    Boston Celtics v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    He is likely bought out if the Celtics can’t find a trade partner.

  7. Nets doctor expects Mirza Teletovic to make full recovery

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:55 PM EST

    Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Teletovic being released from hospital today

  8. Phil Jackson once admitted championship Knicks deflated balls

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:17 PM EST

    Jackson AP

    Jackson said breaking rule gave New York an edge due to team’s style of play

  9. Kevin Durant out against Knicks

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:42 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Thunder remain heavy favorites

  10. Report: Terrence Ross riding bench in Toronto but will not be traded

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:05 PM EST

    Philadelphia 76ers V Toronto Raptors Getty Images

    The Raptors are trying to be patient and tap into his potential.

  11. Nikola Mirotic’s unique style rewarding Bulls for waiting on him

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:17 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls V San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    Mirotic, drafted in 2011, is a darkhorse challenger to Andrew Wiggins for Rookie of the Year

  12. Report: Executives have proposed moving up NBA trade deadline

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:59 AM EST

    Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    It probably would matter less than before, but why change the date?

  13. Report: Potential first rounder Robert Upshaw could sign in D-League after Washington dismissal

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:22 AM EST

    Robert Upshaw, Gary Payton II AP

    Upshaw reportedly failed multiple drug tests at Washington and Fresno State

  14. Stephen Curry had a great passing night (VIDEO)

    Jan 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    He can do more than just shoot the rock.

  15. Report: Bucks to sign Kenyon Martin through end of season

    Jan 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    Kenyon Martin, Chris Bosh AP

    They like his veteran leadership on a young team.

Featured video

Who should be All-Star Game reserves?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (8143)
  2. H. Whiteside (7508)
  3. R. Rubio (7233)
  4. N. Batum (6906)
  5. C. Anthony (6882)
  1. K. Martin (6869)
  2. L. Aldridge (6781)
  3. K. Walker (6502)
  4. D. Howard (6364)
  5. J. Noah (6297)