The game against Ukraine does not affect team USA because they already clinched Group C with their win yesterday over the Dominican Republic. However they still had things to work on as they head into the elimination round.
Derrick Rose was playing in his 3rd game in 3 days. Team USA came out slow and uninterested. They were down early to Ukraine. There was too much 1 on 1 in the beginning. They didn’t score their first basket until the 5:18 mark. The defense was bad and giving up layups. The starters only managed to score eight points in the first quarter. For the first time in this tournament Team USA was down in the first quarter 19-14.
The ball movement improved in the 2nd quarter and that led to better shot opportunities and 3 made three pointers. The starters found a better grove and everyone besides Anthony Davis scored in the 2nd. The defense was much better as they held the Ukraine to only 13 points in the quarter. They finished the quarter on an 11-1 run to take a 44-32 lead into the half.
After a decent first half James Harden scored 10 points for Team USA in the 3rd quarter. He did a lot of his damage coming off screens. Steph Curry added 6 points as he has started to find his jumper. The game is much easier when the ball is moving. Team USA had 9 assists in the quarter as they extended the lead to 69-54 at the end of 3.
Kenneth Faried did get it going until the game was well in hand but DeMarcus Cousins came in and played really well. He finished with 11 points, 4 rebounds, and a block and steal apiece. The guard play was much improved in this game. Harden got it going with 17 points and 5 assists. He missed all of his 3 pointers but that did not stop him from attacking the basket. Steph Curry shot the ball better, going 3-4 from beyond the arc and finishing with 14 points.
Team USA ran away with the game 95-71 and they play again in the round of 16 on Saturday. Slow starts can come back to hunt this team when they play better teams. They have a lot of fire power so 14 points in an opening quarter is not acceptable. They need to come out and move the ball early, this helps get Davis and Faried easy baskets and then it can open up the 3 pointer. They shot 5-12 from beyond the arc in this game but with all these shooters they can do better and they will need to do better against tougher competition. They did a good job of protecting the ball and only had 9 turnovers while forcing 17.
While playing in 3 games in 3 days Derrick Rose did not shoot the ball well, only 2-9 for 4 points. He did show some explosiveness on missed shots and his defense was still good. Kyrie Irving left the game late after he appeared to fall on his hip. He walked off on his own and should be good to play on Saturday.