Team USA has gotten off to slow starts in their previous two games. They came out sluggish against Serbia in the gold medal game. The same problems plagued the U.S. as Anthony Davis picked up two quick fouls. After that hiccup the game was in hand for the U.S.
After back to back scoreless first halves James Harden got it going early along with Kyrie Irving. They combined for 24 points, going 4-4 from beyond the arc. Irving had 15 points including an array of fancy moves. Team USA quickly went on a 14-0 run to take the lead and never looked back.
DeMarcus Cousins came in and played solid defense in the paint. He grabbed six rebounds and had one block in the first quarter. They ended the quarter on a 28-6 run to take a 35-21 lead into the second quarter.
It was more of the same in the second quarter. Anthony Davis picked up his 3rd foul. He sat down with zero points in the half. Faried had seven points before joining Davis on the bench with three fouls. The bench of DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Klay Thompson has played really well. They scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, had two blocks and went 3-5 from three point land.
The U.S. picked the perfect game to start knocking down shots early. They shot 61% in the 1st while shooting 11-16 (68%) from the three point line. Kyrie Irving and James Harden combined for 35 points on 13-16 shooting and 7-8 from three. They only had five assists as a team but they are hitting all those isolation shots in this game. They only had four turnovers while forcing nine. The defense was solid holding Serbia to 21 and 20 point quarters. They went into the half up 67-41. The most points they have scored in the first half in this tournament.
DeMarcus Cousins started the 2nd half because Anthony Davis had three fouls. Cousins had a great game off the bench for Davis. He finished with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks while going 7-8 from the line. Davis did finally get on the board but he picked up another foul and sat down for the night.
Kyrie Irving and James Harden continued their hot shooting. Irving had eight points in the quarter while Harden added six points. Irving finished the game with 26 points and 4 assists while shooting 6-6 from behind the arc. Harden had 23 points on 3-5 shooting from three point land. Serbia managed to score 26 points in the quarter but was still down 105-67 heading into the fourth.
The game was well in hand in the fourth. DeRozan came in to add to the bench scoring. Faried finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. The U.S. let up in the fourth on the defensive end as Serbia closed the gap. Team USA shot 57% for the game and went 15-30 from the three point line. They finished the game with 16 assists and only eight turnovers. It was their best game of the tournament.
This U.S. team went through a lot before the tournament started. We already knew Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James were not playing in this tournament. All-Star players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin backed out before training camp. We all remember the Paul George injury and then Kevin Durant backed out. This was looked at as the “C” team for team USA. They were so young and many of them did not have international experience.
This team came out to play each night. They struggled in games against Turkey, Slovenia and Lithuania but they always bounced back in the 2nd half of games. They blew out each team. In the beginning it was Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis but then Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson got it going. DeMarcus Cousins was solid as a backup center. Derrick Rose played in each game and although he’s rusty he still looks quick.
They didn’t have the dream matchup against Spain but they completed their mission. They finished off Serbia 129-92 to win the Gold Medal in the FIBA World Cup. It was the most points they have scored all tournament. It is the first time the U.S. has won back to back World Championships.
The All-Star five or the All-Tournament team was Kyrie Irving (USA), Nic Batum (France), Pau Gasol (Spain), Kenneth Faried (USA) and Milos Teodosic (Serbia). Kyrie Irving won the World Cup MVP after scoring 26 points against Serbia.