USA starts slow, pulls away from Tunisia


Team USA's Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant and Team USA moved to 2-0 in preliminary play, but Tunisia put up a tough fight for the first 20 minutes. (Photo credit to Sports&Stars)

Disappointing wouldn’t be the exact word to describe Team USA‘s first half against and over-matched Tunisia team. Pathetic or embarrassing would be more like it. Thankfully Team USA’s second unit, led by Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love, helped them cruise to an easy victory in the end.

This game was projected to be a blowout. The spread was 55 points in Las Vegas. But no one told Tunisia that in the first half of the game. Tunisia shocked the U.S. and the world with an array of three-point shots, layups and dunks in the first half of Tuesday’s preliminary game. Macram Ben Romdhane was one of the stars for Tunisia, posting a double-double (22 pts and 11 rebs). He had a variety of dunks and layups, leaving the U.S. defense in complete disarray a few times. Tunisia was only down 13 points at half.

But the second half performance was far more inspiring, dominating and USA-like for the Americans. Coach K started the second unit to start the second half and they responded big time. Team USA posted 39 points in the third quarter, blowing the game wide open. The game ended in a rout, 110-63 in favor of Team USA. Love and Anthony each scored 16 points, Kevin Durant had 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Anthony Davis finished with 12, and Russell Westbrook and James Harden with 11 and 10, respectively.

Some of the disappointments for Team USA have to be Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, and Tyson Chandler. Chandler hasn’t been protecting the rim or playing great defense, Paul hasn’t hit open jumpshots and has fouled more than he should be, and nobody really knows where Bryant’s head is anymore. He only played nine minutes in today’s game, scoring four points and committing three fouls. I don’t believe he played in the second half, either.

I am not coming at Paul or Bryant, because their resumes speak for themselves, but there comes a point where Coach K needs to start giving other players, like Westbrook or Deron Williams, more minutes. As for Chandler, I wouldn’t mind seeing Love or Davis get the bulk of the minutes from now on or at least for the rest of preliminary round. I like the energy Davis and versatility Love bring when they enter the game. Chandler is a liability offensively (we all know this) and hasn’t been playing Defensive Player of the Year-like defense. We are starting to find out why he wasn’t even All NBA First-Team Defense.

In the end, Team USA won the game handily but it was far from impressive. They were too lackadaisical on defense and didn’t defend the three-point line (Tunisia made eight three-pointers) and their own three-point shooting was terrible. They had a lot of good looks which they couldn’t make. They shot 10-25 from three-point range but they could have been 15-25 if they were able to hit all the open ones they missed.

Even when the starting five plays uninspired, it’s always nice to have a second group who brings energy to floor. Today showed that playing with energy makes just as much of a difference as talent does when talent plays with no energy.

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