Rio Olympics: Team USA men's basketball destroys Venezuela
The Americans overcame a rough first half of play to beat the Venezuelans by 44 points.
Team USA's dominance over the rest of the Olympic field continued on Monday with a blowout 113-69 victory over Venezuela. Yet despite the 44-point victory, Team USA did not look dominant at the start of this game.
Playing sloppy and continually getting called for ticky-tack fouls, Team USA just had a miserable start to their second Olympic game. Team USA turned the ball over six times and scored just 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting in the first. The score was surprisingly all tied up at 18 after one, as a scrappy Venezuela took advantage of Team USA getting in foul trouble by shooting 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.
But led by Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony (10 points in the half), Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan. Team USA quickly established order in the second. Playing hellacious defense and taking better care of the ball, Team USA closed the second quarter on a 24-4 run to go into the half up 48-26. The aggressiveness picked up on both sides of the court for Team USA in the second but defensively they were studs and held Venezuela to just eight points in the quarter.
Team USA continued to cruise in the second half, locking down Venezuela on defense and keeping their offense free flowing, extending the lead to 30-plus and then 40-plus points. Paul George led Team USA with 20 points, Butler had 17, Durant chipped in 16, Anthony had 14 points and Jordan finished with a near double double of 14 points and nine rebounds.
Team USA will have a day off before facing off against the 2-0 Australian team on Wednesday. For now, here are three takeaways from the dominant win.
Paul George continues dominate Olympic play
After suffering a gruesome leg injury in an USA basketball two years ago, George has quickly gotten back to playing like a superstar. And since he suffered the injury while suiting up for Team USA, it is quite the treat to see George actually playing in the Olympics just two years after what could've been a career-altering injury.
George was just brilliant against Venezuela. He played tough, pressuring defense and was aggressive on offense, leading Team USA with 20 points. Now George did score the bulk of his points once everything was out of hand, but he also had the highlight of the game during this time frame with a one-handed hammer dunk on a fast break.
The signature PG dunk in a Team USA uniform will never get old. pic.twitter.com/bqNR53lqxi— whitney (@its_whitney) August 9, 2016
George was also lights out from long range, as he shot 3-of-4 from three and overall, shot 86 percent from the field. Team USA is incredibly deep and George's versatility on both ends of the court is one of the many reasons why they are the favorites to win gold.
Team USA only has two true centers on their roster with DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan, yet as they showed on Monday, that is more than enough. Especially since with Cousins plagued with foul trouble (he actually fouled out during garbage time), Jordan stepped up and made a big difference for Team USA.
Jordan was a key part of Team USA's big second run as his energy and sheer size on defense sparked the team's aggressiveness in the quarter. Throwing down dunks and leading the team in rebounds, Jordan finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. He was quite efficient around the rim as well, missing just one shot on 6-of-7 shooting.
Klay Thompson can't buy a bucket
Despite being one of the best shooters in the league, Klay Thompson's stroke just has not carried over to Rio de Janeiro. The amazing thing is that Thompson gets open looks but has simply been unable to convert.
Against China on Saturday, Thompson shot 1-of-6 from the field and missed all three of his 3-point attempts. He finished that game with just 2 points. Somehow, Thompson managed to take a step back against Venezuela. Shooting 0-for-5 from the field and missing all four of his 3-point attempts, Thompson failed to score in just under 15 minutes of action. He was the only member of Team USA to not score, which seems wild considering his scoring prowess in the NBA.
Team USA doesn't really need Thompson to be one of their leading scorers, so his lack of scoring isn't that big of a deal. Besides, USA won by 44 points. That said, Thompson needs to be a threat from long range for Coach K's squad to secure another gold medal, which so far he hasn't. And with a tough Australian team on deck for Wednesday, Team USA will need Thompson to step up then and throughout the rest of the Olympic tournament, otherwise his role on the starting lineup could be in jeopardy.
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