The U.S. men’s national team has not lost a basketball game in 10 years, and they extended that winning streak by dominating the Chinese basketball team in an exhibition game.
Team USA defeated the Chinese team by a score of 106-57. Fellow teammates Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson led the way with 19 and 17 points respectively, while Demarcus Cousins had 12 points and seven rebounds. DeAndre Jordan also had 12 points and some monstrous blocks, though he did dribble a ball off his foot which slammed into a referee’s groin.
While Team USA was heavily favored, Coach Mike Krzyzewski paid serious attention towards whether his athletes played like a team and worked together. In that regard, he liked what he saw.
“We should have won, but the way we won was excellent,” Krzyzewski told ESPN. “We’re really growing together as a group.”
The American basketball players also observed their strong teamwork. “We’ve only been together a week, but it seems like we’ve been teammates for years,” Jordan observed. Team USA worked together and played strong defense to hold China to just 30 percent shooting from the field.
A lack of competition
The blowout is a good start for a U.S. team which is missing many of its best players. LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Anthony Davis, and Chris Paul are just some of the elite athletes who would likely be on the Olympic team if they had decided to come.
There are a variety of reasons for why so many athletes have chosen not to play in this year’s Olympics. Some athletes are tired after a long, hard-fought NBA season and need to take a break to heal nagging injuries. Others are worried about the Zika virus or the stories of complete chaos which has surrounded the Rio games.
Spain will still have the 36-year old Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, and Ricky Rubio. And other teams will have NBA players as well. France, in particular, will be interesting with their defensive star Rudy Gobert. Unlike the NBA, Olympic basketball rules permit players to continually stay next to the rim, which will allow the lengthy Gobert to block more shots and play more interior defense.
A smattering of boos
The game was played in front of a crowded Staples Center. As Kevin Durant and Draymond Green practiced before the game, the two players were booed by the crowd. Durant has attracted controversy over his decision to join a Golden State Warriors team which won 73 games last season.
Durant and Green both said that they did not hear any boos, though Warriors general manager Bob Myers did. And while Durant had a strong game, Green did not score any points.
But neither player will hear any boos as they play against China again on Tuesday, this time in Oakland. After that game, they will play two more exhibition games before the Olympics begin on August 5. Their first game will be against China again on August 6. The two teams are in the same group, along with France, Venezuela, Serbia, and Australia.
[Photo By Ethan Miller/Getty Images]