After a tough game against Turkey, Team USA came out with a better defensive effort against New Zealand.
The veteran guards of Turkey controlled the pace against USA and made the game slower. New Zealand could not do the same and they were pressured early by the US guards. USA played defense without fouling and they were able to get out on the break for easy baskets.
Stephen Curry and Kenneth Faried paved the way in the 1st quarter. Curry had eight points and Faried had seven. When they were not playing 1 on 1 the ball movement was crisp and they shot 3-5 from beyond the arc. At the end of the 1st Team USA was up 27-20.
It was more of the same in the 2nd quarter for Team USA. Their defense and ball movement was solid. Kyrie Irving pushed the tempo and was able to find his teammates. Stephen Curry had his best half as he finished with 10 points. Team USA attacked the basket and went to the free throw line 20 times. Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried led the way with 11 points each, as Team USA led 57-35 at the half.
With a big lead Derrick Rose started the 2nd half over Kyrie Irving. Rose did not have a good game, scoring just three points on 1-6 shooting. He tried to be aggressive attacking the basket but he just missed shots he would usually make. James Harden got going early in the 3rd as he scored three quick baskets including a nice two handed dunk over a defender. The play was sloppy at the end of the quarter but Team USA led 75-54.
Kenneth Faried finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds while Anthony Davis had 21 points and 9 rebounds. They were effective on both ends of the floor as Team USA ran away with the game 98-71. Overall the half court execution was more consistent than the previous game against Turkey. The ball pressure was good and they only committed 13 fouls all game. New Zealand was limited to seven free throws while Team USA took 34.
The game was out of hand early but Team USA could still learn from this game. They need to stop playing 1 on 1 for stretches and move the ball. In the first quarter they moved the ball and knocked down three open three pointers. They only hit 3 threes the rest of the game. Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried are the anchors for this team and they should play inside-out to get better shots.
There were six players in double figures including Klay Thompson who played well off the bench. Kyrie continues to impress as he finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals. The energy from the start of the game was good but they need to put teams away quickly. They played sloppy in the 3rd quarter instead of learning and executing better. Team USA improves to 3-0 in Group C. They play again on Wednesday against the Dominican Republic.