Sacramento Kings duo cracks rotation in Team USA’s last tune-up before World Cup
Despite playing a Slovenian team with only one player over 6-foot-8, both Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings important minutes for Team USA 0n Tuesday. Neither started, but Gay was the first man off coach Mike Kzryzewski’s bench in the first quarter and Cousins joined him moments later in the team’s final friendly match before the World Cup begins in five days.
Led by brothers Goran and Zoran Dragic, Slovenia held their own in this one, trailing Team USA by just 11 at the half. But in the end, the high-powered American team was too much to handle, coming away with the 101-71 victory.
Notes and Analysis
- Cousins showed no ill-effects from the knee injury that knocked him out of Team USA practice two weeks ago. In his first stint on the court, the Sacramento Kings starting center stayed in front of his man on the perimeter and stole the ball for an easy, breakaway dunk. He was active on both ends of the floor and avoided camping out in the lane like we saw in his last few contests. Cousins finished with six points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 14 minutes, but shot just 2-for-8 from the field.
- Gay has earned a major role on this team as the first forward off the bench. Depending on the competition, the Sacramento Kings starting small forward will play either the wing or stretch four position for the national team. Slovenia forced Gay to float on the perimeter as a defender all game, which will really help when he returns back to Sacramento. Gay dropped in 11 points in 14 minutes and played exceptional defense.
- Kenneth Faried has not only earned a spot on the roster, but he’s also proven to be a great fit next to Anthony Davis on the frontline. Coach K has surrounded the pair with shooters and Faried continues to dominate the glass. The coaching staff doesn’t run a single play for the Denver Nuggets forward, but that didn’t stop him from scoring 14 points and grabbing eight rebounds in 23 minutes of action.
- Goran Dagic is a household name in the NBA, especially after winning the league’s Most Improved Player last season with the Phoenix Suns. But his brother Zoran, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, turned heads with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
- If the rotation holds, Derrick Rose and Klay Thompson will join Gay and Cousins as a powerful four-man bench. DeMar DeRozan played minutes as well, but Coach K has talked about a tight 8-9 man bench once the tournament starts at the end of the month.
- Anthony Davis continues to excel for Team USA. The 21-year-old center set game-highs in points with 18 and rebounds with nine. The Pelicans big man added five blocks and three steals in 19 minutes.
- Celebrating his 25th birthday, James Harden had a quiet game. The Houston Rocket star finished with nine points in 28 minutes of action.
- Team USA struggled from the free throw line, hitting just 29-of-46 from the stripe for a lackluster 63 percent. They also hit just six total 3-pointers in the win.
- All 12 players on the roster played in the win, but Andre Drummond and Mason Plumlee didn’t see action until the fourth quarter when the game was decided.