As expected, the USA basketball team are now up to 3-0 in the Basketball World Cup, beating New Zealand 98-71, once again led by the devastating inside duo of Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried, standing out ahead of the rest for a third consecutive game.
Davis scored 21 points to go with his nine rebounds as he once again scored at ease inside the paint and from mid range, going to the line quite often as well, finishing with 7-of-10 from there. While Turkey might have given him and the other American big men some trouble, they eventually got past it, and against New Zealand the opposition was minimal, maybe even non existent.
Faried doesn’t have Davis’ range, but he’s proving to be just as much of a problem for international teams. He finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, including seven of them on offense. He is shooting 81% from the field so far in the tournament, and is undeniably the player getting the biggest profile exposure among those who don’t watch the Denver Nuggets too closely during the regular season.
Without size to match down low, it was just about trying to shoot well enough to stay close. New Zealand attempted 26 three pointers, hitting 9 of them. Still, it wasn’t enough when rebounding was such a struggle and almost every miss turned into a long one and an easy two-point play or more for the Americans. Size and slowing down the play works against this team, but New Zealand don’t really have the tools for that kind of game.
Derrick Rose, maybe the most looked at player on this team, was a disappointment again. His pacing seems off and his decision making when shooting remains suspect, finishing with just 3 points on 1-of-6 from the field. At the moment, Kyrie Irving, who scored 10 points, looks like the best-performing point guard for Team USA, although he still remains as a backup to Stephen Curry.
Curry had a good game from the outside and so did Klay Thompson. James Harden scored 13 points and provided most of the wow moments in the game, with the crowd left slightly disappointed that the team made out of NBA stars didn’t try harder when it came to making extravagant plays. For the rest of the group stage, with games against the Dominican Republic and Ukraine, things are likely to look very similar. Whoever comes out of Group D shouldn’t pose a problem in the round of 16 as well.