Team USA got off to another slow start in a rematch against Slovenia. It was by far the worst start in this tournament.
They started the game shooting 1-11. Slovenia had an early 8-4 lead as team USA continued to struggle from the field. Offensive rebounding kept the US in the game. They had 14 offensive rebounds in the 1st quarter. Faried was active early grabbing 6 rebounds and scoring 8 points.
Slovenia was unable to capitalize on the poor shooting. The US did not move the ball as they only had 2 assists. Klay Thompson came in off the bench and scored 7 points while knocking down their only 3 pointer. Rose also came in and scored a quick 4 points. He looks fast but rusty. Free throw shooting kept the US in the game, they were 10-14 in the 1st.
They finished the quarter shooting only 9-30 (30%) from the field. James Harden and Steph Curry were a combined 0-9 shooting and Curry had 3 fouls. Somehow they were still up 29-22 at the end of the quarter.
The 2nd quarter was not any better for team USA. They came out strong but that did not last. Curry missed the whole quarter with 3 fouls and DeMarcus Cousins picked up his 3rd foul as well. Harden continued to struggle as he went into halftime shooting 0-8 with no free throw attempts and 0 points.
The defense was very bad as Slovenia went into the half shooting 48% from the field. While only shooting 2-12 from beyond the arc they are getting easy buckets in close. On the other side the Americans are only shooting 36% from the field and 30% from 3 point land.
After grabbing 14 offensive rebounds in the 1st quarter, USA only grabbed 2 in the 2nd. Faried is the leading scorer with 12 points and 7 rebounds. Klay added 10 off the bench and Anthony Davis had 9 points and 10 rebounds. Harden and Curry went into the half scoreless and Kyrie Irving has not been that effective. Slovenia tied team USA with 20 points in the 2nd quarter; they ended the half on an 8-3 run to cut the US lead to 49-42.
The 3rd quarter is usually when team USA turns it on and puts a team away. This was no different as they went on a 19-5 run to push their lead to up to 20 points. The defense was much better and that led to easy dunks in transition. They had 6 assists in the quarter after only having 7 in the 1st half altogether. Everyone played with better energy on both ends.
James Harden finally got it going. He scored his 1st point at the 6:28 mark in the 3rd quarter. He finished the quarter off with a three pointer capping off a 12 point quarter to go along with 2 assists. He was able to get to the free throw line 5 times and set up his teammates for some nice finishes. Curry added four points after going scoreless in the 1st half as well.
Slovenia shot the ball well but they had 7 turnovers in the quarter. You cannot have live ball turnovers and hope to win. Team USA knocked down 3 three pointers in the quarter tying their first half total. Their field goal percentage increased as well and they outscored Slovenia 34-22. After only being up 7 points at the half, team USA went into the fourth quarter up 86-64.
The game was well in hand during the fourth. Derrick Rose easily had his best game of the tournament. He always looked fast but he was missing easy baskets. This game Rose was finishing over defenders as he scored 12 points on 6-10 shooting. He added 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal.
Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried had double-doubles and James Harden added 14 points to lead the starters. Klay Thompson was the player of the game scoring 20 points, shooting 4-8 from downtown.
Team USA scored a tournament high 119 points. After giving up 42 points in the 1st half, they held Slovenia to 32 points in the second half. Everyone scored for team USA and DeMarcus Cousins fouled out of the game.
With a slow start the Americans still played defense and protected the ball. They dominated the glass, grabbing 22 offensive rebounds and they only had 10 turnovers total. Their half-court offense can be too dependent on isolation plays and that will hurt them going forward. They still have to work on their execution if they hope to beat Lithuania on Thursday.