With the Clippers center starting in the middle in front of a supportive home crowd, the team that will represent the United States at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro rolled to a 106-57 win over China in front of a sellout crowd of 19,060 at Staples Center.
Kevin Durant led a balanced performance for Team USA with 19 points and five assists, while Klay Thompson (17 points), DeMar DeRozan (13 points, four rebounds), DeAndre Jordan (12 points, five rebounds, three blocks) and DeMarcus Cousins (12 points, seven rebounds) were all superb in limited playing time.
Yi Jianlian led the way for China with 18 points and seven rebounds, while Zhao Jiwei added 14 points and two assists.
The United States wasted little time in asserting its dominance, racing out to a 26-13 lead in the first quarter. Durant led the way with nine points in the quarter, including this pull-up three-pointer from well beyond the arc, via USA Basketball:
The new Golden State Warriors star’s versatile game impressed ESPN’s J.A. Adande: “Kevin Durant has three assists in his first four minutes of action. Looks like he’s fitting into Golden State’s offense before he even gets there.”
Team USA continued to dominate in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 55-29 lead. Durant led all scorers with 14 points and four assists. Cousins added 12 points, Thompson notched nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc and Carmelo Anthony posted just two points but added six rebounds.
Team USA’s offensive outburst will attract the highlights and headlines, but basketball writer Dick Weiss was impressed with how the team fared on the other end of the court:
These teams will meet again Tuesday evening. The United States will be the prohibitive favorites to win the gold medal in Rio, and performances like Sunday night’s blowout and Friday’s 111-74 triumph over Argentina will do little to dispel that notion.
Still, the competition will be stiffer in Rio, as Weiss noted:
But given Team USA’s bounty of NBA superstars, anything less than a gold medal would be a significant surprise and disappointment. The United States has won the gold in five of the last six Olympics, failing to do so only at the 2004 Athens Games, where Team USA infamously fell short with a bronze medal.