Team USA begins World Cup pool play with a blowout win over Finland

 

Stephen Curry, Kenneth Faried, James Harden, DeMar Derozan and DeMarcus Cousins on USA Blue's sidelines. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

After leading 31-16 at the end of the first quarter, Team USA used stifling defense in the second to put away Finland in game one of World Cup pool play.  The All-Star-laden national team held Finland to just a pair of free throws in the second quarter while opening up a 60-18 to lead going to the break.  It was all down hill from there for Team Finland.

Led by Petteri Koponen and Cleveland Cavs forward Erik Murphy, Finland played in front of a huge Finnish crowd.  But they didn’t have the talent to match up with Team USA, falling by the final of 114-55.

Notes and Analysis

  • DeMarcus Cousins was a man amongst boys today.  The Sacramento Kings starting center finished with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds in 16 minutes of action.  He hustled up and down the court in a game that digressed into a glorified track meet. Cousins looked winded a couple of times, but this up-and-down game plays perfect into what the Kings hope to do in the regular season.
  • More than the scoring and rebounding, Cousins remained composed when an inferior team got physical.  The only thing limiting Cousins at this point, is the level of competition.  As Team USA progresses through the tournament, the role that Cousins is playing now will become more and more important.
  • Rudy Gay continued his strong play, dropping in 10 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes off Coach K’s bench.  The 28-year-old wing has solidified himself as a go-to reserve and the experience he is gaining as a stretch four will serve the Sacramento Kings well this season.
  • Golden State’s Klay Thompson hit 7-of-10 from the field and 4-for-7 from 3-point land on his way to a game-high 18 points.  The Warriors starting shooting guard hadn’t stood out before today, but his shooting ability will come in handy as Team USA moves through pool play and into the elimination rounds.
  • Anthony Davis continues to thrive in the international game.  The third-year forward/center out of Kentucky scored 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting in just 14 minutes.  We are seeing Davis become a superstar through the Team USA experience.
  • It appears that Derrick Rose has been supplanted in the starting lineup by Kyrie Irving, but that hasn’t stopped the former MVP from making a huge contribution.  Rose came off the bench to score 12 points and hand out three assists in 23 minutes of action.
  • Andre Drummond came off the bench to score nine points on 4-for-4 shooting and grabbed four rebounds in 10 minutes of action.  There will come a game where Team USA needs a big contribution from the Detroit Pistons’ big man and it looks like he is ready.
  • When you out-shoot your opponent from the field 67 to 32 percent and force 31 turnovers like Team USA did today, you are going to win a lot of games.
  • After struggling from the line last game, Team USA made 22 of 25 free throws against Finland.
  • All 12 players on the roster played double-figure minutes in the win, with no player playing more than Rose’s 22:41.

Quote of the Game

ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla during the telecast:

There are guys that are coming up the ranks now that understand that skill is important and not just how high you can jump and whether your dunks get on sports center.  That’s been good for the American game in recent years and I think that Team USA has a lot to do with that.

 

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About: James Ham

James Ham is co-owner and senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary film "Small Market, Big Heart".