London Olympics 2012: Team USA Basketball Crush Tunisia 110-63 After A Close First Half

  on

 

Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love scored 16 points apiece to lead the American men to a 110-63 victory over Tunisia in the Olympic basketball tournament on Tuesday.

Kevin Durant recorded 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for Team USA (2-0), while Russell Westbrook and James Harden totaled 11 and 10 points, respectively.

"We started slow in the first half, but we figured it out," Anthony said.

Makram Ben Romdhane paced Tunisia (0-2) with a game-high 22 points. Playing in its maiden Games, Tunisia grabbed its first-ever lead in Olympic competition when Amine Rzig drained a three-pointer after Kobe Bryant had opened the scoring with a shot from inside the paint.

Mourad El Mabrouk made two free throws to put Tunisia up 15-12 with 2:39 remaining in the first quarter, but the Americans countered with a 14-0 run that stretched into the second quarter. A Westbrook bucket capped the surge for a 26-15 lead.

Tunisia continue to show spirit, closing to within 35-30, but the talent disparity between the two clubs became evident when the Americans opened the second half on a 10-0 run to go up 56-33 on a Love free throw.

Team USA led 85-47 heading into the fourth quarter.

"In the second half our defense picked it up and did not give the open looks and created turnovers which produced offense," said Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Team USA look to cruise through their second Olympic newcomers, Nigeria, in London on Thursday. Nigeria pulled off a win of their own over Tunisia on Sunday, but by a much slimmer margin at 60-56.

America's starters looked like they were mired in memories of 2004 when they took the floor against Tunisia. They settled for long jump shots on offense, looked lethargic on defense, and displayed a general disinterest in their overmatched opponent.

Mike Krzyzewski's mass substitutions helped to turn the beat around for his team, but was indicative of a lackadaisical overconfidence that could come back to bite the gold-medal favorites before too long.

Nigeria presents a similar mental challenge to Team USA's sense of focus, but with decidedly better talent than Tunisia. A slow start would hardly doom the Americans against the Nigerians, but they can't afford to develop bad habits with tougher competition on the horizon.

If Team USA takes its talent for granted again, as it did early on against Tunisia, the game can get pretty close. The Nigerians have a few weapons capable of making America pay for its insolent laziness, at least early on in the game.

The longer it takes the Americans to get their engines revved up against their inferior competitors, the closer David can come to felling Goliath.

Expect a story similar to the ones seen against France and Tunisia to play out Thursday-a slow, close start, followed by an uptick in play by the reserves as Team USA wears down yet another opponent with its unmatched depth, talent and athleticism.