Team USA thumps New Zealand to improve to 3-0 in 2014 FIBA World Cup

USA Basketball's Anthony Davis  at practice in Las Vegas. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)
After struggling in the first half of Sunday’s win over Turkey, USA Basketball jumped all over New Zealand on Tuesday, taking a 22-point lead into the half.  Led by the frontline of Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried, Team USA finished off New Zealand after intermission, coming away with the 98-71 victory and improving to 3-0 in group play.

Notes and Analysis

  • DeMarcus Cousins had a quiet game for Team USA.  The Sacramento Kings’ starting center finished with four points, two rebounds and two assists in 11 minutes of action.  Coach Mike Krzyzewski mixed and matched his rotations today, leaving Cousins with little opportunity to perform.
  • Rudy Gay struggled with his shot, scoring two points on 1-of-4 shooting.  But Gay stuffed the stat sheet in his 15 minutes of action, coming away with four rebounds, three assists and two steals.  After playing primarily as a stretch four in early games, Gay saw time at his natural position of small forward today.
  • Cousins picked up an early assist, hitting the Warriors’ Klay Thompson for a kick-out 3-pointer.  If the Sacramento Kings are going to have a successful season, Cousins needs to find open shooters.  Rookie Nik Stauskas should be watching Thompson and taking notes.
  • Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried are not just controlling the paint, they are playing exceptional off each other.  Davis will move back to power forward once the NBA season begins, but his length and athleticism are tailor made for center in the international game.  The budding Pelicans star finished with a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds.
  • Faried is a restricted free agent at the end of the season and he is raising his value each game.  The Denver Nuggets forward is running circles around international competition and did so again today with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Krzyzewski mixed it up in the second half when he turned to Derrick Rose to start and brought Andre Drummond off the bench as his first big.  Once again, all 15 players saw time, with Faried leading the way with 25 minutes of action.
  • Team USA tried a few new things in the third quarter and the results weren’t spectacular.  After dominating the first half, New Zealand held their own in the third, outscoring the American powerhouse 19-18.  Team USA recovered to outscore the Kiwis 23-17 in the second on their way to the 27 point victory.
  • Mason Plumlee played in both the first and second halves today, finishing with one point and three rebounds in five minutes.  Plumlee looked solid, but his free throw shooting was atrocious.

Quote of the Game

ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla on Sacramento Kings’ big man DeMarcus Cousins during the telecast:

I wouldn’t call him a pleasant surprise.  If you follow what he’s been able to do year-by-year in the league and then how he’s really handled himself since the start of training camp, the guy has played hard.  When he got hurt, he worked hard to get back.  He had that knee injury in training camp.  And that three-man rotation (of Davis, Faried and Cousins) has actually turned out to be, right now, Team USA’s greatest strength.

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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 provides game day coverage for NBA.com and is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart".