Game Recap: USA 119 – China 62


Team USA kicked off their pool play with a resounding 57 point victory over China. Kevin Durant led Team USA with 25 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds on a scorching 10/14 shooting. On the Chinese side it was Yi Jianlin, the former NBA lottery pick, who lead the way with 25 points and 6 rebounds.

The US started Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and DeMarcus Cousins. The game started off slow with the US not getting their first field goal until two and a half minutes into the first quarter. The US did not let up from that point on, following up with an 8-0 run. Throughout the remainder of the first quarter Team USA played smothering defense, holding China to only 10 points while scoring 30 of their own. Near the end of Q1 we got our first glimpses of the Raptors guards. Both Kyle and DeMar played tight defense and Kyle’s tenacity was evident as he guarded the Chinese guards from baseline to baseline. Lowry’s defensive domination cannot be overstated; he was all over the Chinese guards. He forced them into help defenders or disrupted passing lanes. What he did doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but was evident in the final score. Kyle chipped in a few points from the free throw line and both him and DeMar were crucial in running the fast break.

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Shortly after the start of Q2 DeMar went on his own little run. He started with an assist to Paul George, who responded by lobbing it up for DeMar on the next possession. Then, DeMar drew a foul and hit his free throws and stripped Zhao Jiwei. Finally, to end off his run DeMar threw down a big slam in transition off a Jimmy Butler dime. After this sequence, Coach K reinserted the starters. The rebounding presence of DeMarcus and Carmelo was too much for the Chinese to handle and resulted in many Chinese fouls under the basket. Kevin Durant responded to Cousins’ strong play by going on a hot streak of his own, shooting jumper after jumper over the outstretched hands of helpless Chinese defenders. Near the end of the second Kyle contributed some nice cross court assists in sparking the fast break.

Throughout Q3 the US continued much of their excellence on defense. Kyle and DeMar adeptly handled switches onto guards, wings, and bigs alike, and both forced some turnovers. Kyrie Irving scored his first Olympic points with a trio of threes. By the fourth quarter, the game was essentially over and DeMar began to relax a bit. He forced some bad passes which contributed to his three turnovers.

DeMarcus Cousins closed out the fourth quarter with remarkable scoring on the fast break and in the paint. The last three minutes of the game consisted of the US jacking up shots from all around the court.

The US impressed in their first official outing. It is clear that this team is destined to be a dominant defensive team. They held China to a woeful 36% field goal percentage and forced 24 turnovers, which only helped pad the lead. Offensively, Team USA is like a prize wheel. The team spins the wheel and whichever member it lands on takes over for the next two to five possessions and after their own run is finished, the wheel spins again and it’s one to the next one. The most impressive part of this style is that it does not feel forced at all. The players are not calling frequent isolations or dominating the ball, but instead the team works to get the ball to that player’s sweet spot. This US team is still figuring out their own greatness, but US fans can be assured their journey to gold will be exciting to watch.