After sleepwalking through their last two games in group play, Team USA took the court Monday for their first game in the knockout rounds. The Americans looked like a team ready to bring back a gold medal, as they scored a lopsided 121-66 over Angola to advance to the FIBA quarterfinals. Senior member Chauncey Billups lead a well-balanced U.S. attack with 19 points and four assists.
The United States won the opening tip-off for the first time in the tournament. A Billups three-pointer and Kevin Durant fast-break dunk helped the U.S. jump out to a 5-0 start. The game quickly got out of hand when the same tandem knocked down consecutive three-pointers later in the quarter to push the lead to 22-7. Continuing their high level of play on both ends of the floor, the Americans ended the quarter with the 33-13 lead.
Forwards Rudy Gay and Kevin Love got things started for the United States in the second quarter. The two combined for the team’s first 11 points of the period and helped make it known that the U.S. had no intentions of holding back after jumping out to the big lead. More hot shooting from Billups and Durant gave the Americans a 65-33 advantage at the half.
Not particularly known for his long-range shooting, Derrick Rose knocked down consecutive three-pointers to start the scoring for the United States in the second half. That only tells part of the story, as Team USA shot 6-of-9 from three-point range in the quarter to push the lead to 35 points at the buzzer. The story remained the same in the fourth quarter, where the Americans outscored Angola 30-10 to cap off a dominant performance.
In addition to the hot hand of Chauncey Billups, the United States got 17 points apiece from Durant, Gay and Eric Gordon. The team shot 52 percent from the field, 47 percent from three-point range and committed just five turnovers in the game. Perhaps pleasing Coach Mike Krzyzewski the most was the team’s 30 assists on 41 field goals. He praised his group for playing sharp and unselfish.
The Americans now look toward a quarterfinals match-up with Russia that promises to be a much closer contest. The Russians have 5-1 FIBA record, with their lone loss coming to a tough Turkey team. That game can be seen on Thursday morning at 11 a.m. on ESPN.
images via USA Basketball